Type in the city

History on display

11/25/2012 12:00 PM

By Bill Motchan

1 Comment - Add Your Comment


Lidia Varesco Racoma with one of her favorite West Loop ghost signs.



Varesco Racoma's book "Typography In The City."

Lidia Varesco Racoma is an urban forager. She doesn’t stalk wild mushrooms or the flotsam and jetsam that collects in vacant lots. It’s images she’s after.

Specifically, Varesco Racoma is on the hunt for typography—classic, modern, or just plain funky. And in the West Loop, she’s found a gold mine. She also is a keen student of ghost signs, the fading advertisements on the sides of buildings from businesses long gone.

Varesco Racoma is a graphic designer by trade, so she knows a thing or two about typography. On her walks throughout the neighborhood, she began to notice something interesting—the area is chock full of great examples of typography. Now, she’s capturing those in her blog. She’s also created a collection of typographic discoveries in a hardcover book, “Typography in the City Volume 1: West Loop.” It’s available from the blurb.com bookstore for $41.95.

“I’ve always had an interest in photography and typography,” she said. “The way this got started was when I attended a conference and picked up a book called ’Photo Idea Index.’ It inspired me to go out and shoot photographs every day.”

It also kept her active while she was pregnant with her son. Varesco Racoma’s doctor recommended exercise, but kick-boxing was out of the question. She decided to start walking around her home and office, both conveniently located in the West Loop.

“I kept taking my camera on walks and I started to see all these really interesting typographic examples on signs and walls of buildings in the West Loop. After I got enough images collected, I started the blog, which I update a couple of times a week.”

The photos are stark images of typographic specimens on unusual surfaces, including manhole covers and brickwork, even on intake valves on the sides of buildings.

“Typography is supposed to express something about a piece of art or design,” she said. “In this area, it also tells you something about the history of the building. Like the engraved addresses you see in archways above the entrance in older buildings.

“There’s a rich history in this neighborhood and you can see it in the type and design,” she said.

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By Lidia Varesco Racoma from West Loop
Posted: 12/06/2012 10:08 PM

Thank you Bill, for sharing my typographic obsession! The West Loop is a great place to get creatively inspired.