One of the nicest surprises we've found has been that something we thought most unlikely with letterpress turned out to not be so. That is spontaneity—designing off the top of your head, or as we say at Lead Graffiti, printing from the hip. Firing without aiming. Foundry metal and wood are hard to reshape. We will often, as with this piece, start with a ‘moment,' a small idea with no particular importance, except that it offers a point-of-departure, a cliff from which to jump. In this instance, it was the fact that our Intertype C4 allows you to push a lever and cast multiple slugs from the same band of matrices. Designer Bob Gill urges us to do work that is Surprising. Original. Inevitable. Surprise the viewer with something unexpected. Find a solution that doesn't look like something you've seen. Make the solution so powerful that you cannot imagine any other solution for the problem. It is a hard mantra to follow. Back in the early 1990s, I had the opportunity to visit advertising art director Helmut Krone. Talking about design Krone said, ”You should know the answer before you hear the problem.” He said when you are presented a problem you should be able to reach into your brain ﬁlled with shelves of ideas and pull down a solution. Then redeﬁne the problem, to fit the solution.
Experiment on every project so you can store new ideas on your pull-from shelf. We offer creative letterpress workshops for design students. We want them to leave a bit disturbed creatively. Later when they design we want them to hear their type hit the
paper. Students usually come with their instructor and a quote to compose. The instructor almost always tells them to start with a sketch. We always say, ”No sketching.” Look for a nugget of an idea in your quote that says, ”There may be gold here.” Take that idea and stick it in your head. Make your head a bookcase of shelves. Let the nugget bounce around. Let it stick to other ideas. Throw a bit of coincidence into the mix. And some play. ”Why did you do that?” ”]ust for fun.” Constantly shufﬂe new and old ideas on and off those shelves. We love punctuation. We love reasons to not space or break letters or words in the expected way. We tinker with readability in a way that makes being unreadable more important than readable. We think that letterpress offers us more opportunity to be more surprised than the computer does. The computer seems to pull things off our shelves for us. Or at least it pulls from the easy-to-reach shelves. Letterpress invites the opportunity to use a ladder to climb up to the hard-to-reach shelves.
That is where the surprising ideas live.
This leaf was conceived and printed slowly 8: patiently at Lead Grafﬁti for It's a Small World by Ray Nichols, Iill Cypher & Tray Nichols. We hope it fits into Surprising. Original. Inevitable. The idea for this piece was pulled from one of our shelves and executed from the hip and without a sketch. March 2012.
This page is the third in a series of “Rain Poems" produced for our Lead Graffiti contribution to It's a Small World, each experimenting with some element of our lntertype C4.
This time it is I point rules merged with periods.We like the notion that periods ﬁt quite nicely into the idea of "It’s a small world."
We think it is about time to start thinking about a book of them.
It is interesting how an idea can sometimes start to develop out of nowhere and without any notice. Our ongoing effort for It's a Small World is a good example that includes two such idea paths.The ﬁrst in issue #58 came from producing the visual poem with lines cast from our lntertype C4. The second is that it has become consistently about rain. As I write this, there is a slow drizzle that is supposed to last for three or four days here in Delaware. Rain Poem #l was focused on the ability for the lntertype to cast duplicate lines of text. Rain Poem #2 was controlling with absolute accuracy the spacing between four periods on each line using the lntertype which is contrary to the very reason you would use an Intertype. Now Rain Poem #3 utilizes the lntertype’s ability to cast, in this instance, I point rule along with the merger of those rules with 6 point periods to produce the rain visual. Figuring out a new visual way to essentially show the same thing had become as much fun as the actual work involved in printing the piece via letterpress.
Our three editions of our Tour de Lead Graffiti posters, one each day for 23 consecutive days, translating the stage events of the Tour de France to ink on paper, has been a parallel experience. How do you do essentially the same thing a different way day after day? We are now up to 69 posters over those three editions and looking forward to July 5th for the start of our 2014 edition. All pretty different.
The repetition of It's a Small World has turned out to be a nice constant in an ever changing landscape of creative possibilities.
And just to see if anyone reads the copy on these pieces.
Anyone out there have the first edition of It's a Small World that would scan or photocopy it for us so we could put it in our archives?
Email to ray@|eadgrafﬁti.com.
Also, anyone who has issues 1, 43, 51 - 57 that are willing to give them up, we are interested in obtaining them.We want to donate as complete a set as possible to Special Collections at the University of Delaware.
Email to ray@leadgraﬁiti.com.
This leaf was conceived and printed slowly & patiently at Lead Graﬁiti for It's a Small World by Ray Nichols. Jill Cypher &Tray Nichols.We hope it continues to fit into our creative mantra - Surprising. Original. Inevitable. The idea for this piece was pulled from one of our shelves and executed from the hip and without a sketch. March 2013.