Monday, October 24, 2011

Cholo Writing: Latino Gang Graffitti in Los Angeles by Francois Chastanet (EXCERPT)

The following is an excerpt from the book "Cholo Writing: Latino Gang Graffitti in Los Angeles" edited by Francois Chastanet:
"Each Latino gang, each neighborhood, has a slightly distinct style, but visual conventions in letterforms are clearly shared, defining a kind of "geographic homogeneity" in wall handwriting, i.e. a lettering identity on a metropolitan scale. The Los Angeles "gangster touch" in letters can be presented as a writing system in four handstyles:
* the Cholo or gangster script, mainly composed in upper case letters, hybrid monolinear versions of mixed "Old English", uppercases with roman capitals.
* the outlined block letter, with sometimes additional tridimensional cross-hatching fill-in shadings.
* the strict and precise typographical outlined renderings, essentially from gothics or more rarely of heavy slab-serif romans, almost exclusively composed in upper case and sometimes filled in.
* the cursive script close to an English roundhand or pointed pen calligraphy (rarely observed in the streets but used extensively in Latino gang members)."

"Cholo Writing" is a historical, photographical inventory of Latino gang graffiti, which was born in Los Angeles and although it has inspired graffiti art as a whole, it is still mostly restricted to the southwestern United States. Featured essays by Chaz Bojorquez, Howard Gribble and Francois Chastanet trace the origins of Cholo writing and explain its broad significance and meanings.

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