Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Review + Video: Cholo Writing: Latino Gang Graffiti in Los Angeles

Gangs and graffiti writers are not the same. The media likes to confuse them to build outrage in the public. Nevertheless, gang graffiti has a large influence in the writing styles of graffiti writers. This is especially true in Los Angeles where many inner city kids were first exposed to writings on the walls by local gangs.

The influence of gang writing is very apparent in both graffiti tags, as well as, pieces. For example, the letter "E" that is written like a backwards "3" in gang writing is used by many graffiti writers, of course, stylized to their own liking.
Cholo Writing: Latino Gang Graffiti in Los Angeles
In November of 2009, Dokument Press put out a significant book titled: Cholo Writing: Latino Gang Graffiti in Los Angeles. The book begins with a forword by renowned artist, Chaz Bojorquez. He writes about the roots of Los Angeles gang graffiti and describes the origins of gangs in Los Angeles. Cholo graffiti is the style of graffiti used by Los Angeles gangs. However, as Mr. Bojorquez states it: "Cholo is much more than just graffiti. It's a lifestyle."

The book is full of pictures of gang graffiti taken in the streets of Los Angeles, as early as, 1962. Co-author/photographer, Howard Gribble describes his motivation and method for taking the pictures. He, as well, describes many of the pictures featured in the book. Co-author, Francois Chastanet describes the origins and growth of Cholo graffiti. We also get a detailed description of the meaning of each part of the graffiti blocks.

I leave you with a quote from Mr. Chastanet: "As the typeface Garamond is the image of French Renaissance, as the typeface Gill Sans is the spirit of England, Cholo writing in the same manner represents the very essence of Los Angeles, Southern California."


dona junta said...

Is there going to be a book release on this?

GraffHead said...

Sorry, don't have that info. You may want to get in touch with the publisher: Dokument Press.

Steve Grody said...


Is where you can order the book easily, but it only has 75 pictures I believe which is a tiny amount for the subject. If you want to see the best pictures from the '70s (large, too), then simply go to flickr.com and search for "The Golden Age of Gang Graffiti" and you can see the collection that Chastenet uses. Also see the interview with Chastenet at http://journal.aiga.org/content.cfm/marking-in-la-an-interview-with-francois-chastanet

GraffHead said...

Steve - thank you for the insightful comment!

Anonymous said...

gracias to htese great people that focus and participate on lighting a dark world of our knowledge.. let them no what that SS represent! im not a cholo but my brothers n cousin's are and they live by that SS and theyll die for that SS

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