Cholo Writing – Latino Gang Graffiti in Los Angeles


In 2009 the French graphic and type designer François Chastanet did publish Cholo Writing: Latino Gang Graffiti in Los Angeles. After his brilliant Pixação: São Paulo Signature he once again did research a form of namewriting in a specific region without direct continuation or relation to traditional New York graffiti writing. This 2024 reissue makes the content finally available again.

The Los Angeles located so called placas are a specific form of gang graffiti with own origins, history and traditions. Mexican and Latin American street gangs use these signs since the 1930s to mark their districts and to separate from turfs of rivalling groups. Based on historic blackletter typography a unique local handstyle developed which influenced the aesthetics of Californian lifestyle brands, tattoo, skate, and street culture as well as graffiti writing and tagging.

Cholo Writing includes a black and white photograph series by Howard Gribble and a text by him on his 1970s shots from East L.A. to South Central. A 2008 series of photographs by François Chastanet shows updated insights into the same neighbourhoods. He also added an analytic essay on this movement which was updated in the new edition. Both pictorial chapters have also been extended with extra shots.

Especially the historic material amazes when you see how extremely clean the straight lined letters have been executed. This book is the perfect introduction into this independent namewriting phenomenon with its logo-like font and calligraphy of which some date back even to 1962. A foreword by legendary L.A. writer Dr. Chaz Bojórquez rounds up this long awaited 2nd edition which comes as a 140-paged hardcover.

140 pages, 16 x 24 cm, hardcover
Language: English
Release date: May 2024 (October 2009)
ISBN: I978-91-88369-85-7
Publisher: Dokument Press

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