These are type designer Oz Cooper’s original drawings for the swash capitals for Cooper Black Italic. They are kept in the Newberry Museum in Chicago, Illinois. I visited Chicago in the winter of 2009 to research Cooper’s work for a feature that I wanted to write for IDEA magazine in Japan. I’d been fascinated with Cooper’s work ever since my time in undergrad, nearly a decade prior, and I’d always wanted to go see the originals, as there was nothing online about them.

I flew from Tokyo to Chicago and stayed with my amazing friend Nate Beaty who kindly gave up his couch and hung out with me every day after I spent all day poring through the boxes of Cooper’s archive and engaging in amazing conversations with a new friend, Paul Gehl, the Curator of Rare Books at the Newberry. Paul is sweet, kind, incredibly brainy, and was the penultimate host.

Every day, taking the bus crosstown was like going from hearth to hearth, filled with amazing conversations and kindnesses.

I was just resolutely, incredibly, unfathomably happy—I was engaged in meaningful international design research for my favorite magazine, studying things that I loved, and just radiating that happiness at everyone I met. Dudes on the bus would ask me if I would lend them my cellphone so that they could pop their SIM card in and call someone, bartenders beamed smiles back at me, baristas were charming, pizza-sellers had sparkles in their eyes, and feral cats would cuddle up to me.

You can keep Utopia. I’ll take Chicago.

-Ian Lynam

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