News


Workshop «Latin Dishu» experimenting ephemeral lettering in public spaces during the Agora 2014 Biennale in Bordeaux, an event organized from 8th to 12th September 2014 by the École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture et de Paysage de Bordeaux / ensapBX.


Lecture entitled «Architecture & Signe, du documentaire au projet» at the 308 in Bordeaux, 15th April 2014, 18h30, an event organized by the École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture et de Paysage de Bordeaux / ensapBX.


The book Dishu: Ground Calligraphy in China was selected amongst the 25 most beautiful Swedish Books / Svensk Bokkonst for 2013, check some views of the catalogue.


Lecture entitled «Urban Monolinear Blackletters» in the research program «Display» of the Graphic Design Department of the École Nationale Supérieure d'Art de Lyon / Ensba, 7th February 2014.


A review of the book Dishu: Ground Calligraphy in China was recently published on Strabic digital magazine, a complete interview on this topic is also available in French on AllCity Blog.


Workshop «Latin Dishu — Expansion Contrast» experimenting ephemeral lettering in public spaces at the École Supérieure d'Art des Pyrénées / Ésap in Pau from 16th to 20th December 2013, lecture entitled «L'eau comme encre», 17th December 2013, 18h, Médiathèque André Labarrère.

Publications

«A diseapearing act» (interview with Robin Sutton Anders), Letter Arts Review vol. 27 no. 4, December 2013, pp. 18 – 31


Dishu: Ground Calligraphy in China, Dokument Press, 320 pages, 2013 • ISBN 978-91-85639-59-5


«Grounding Chinese Calligraphy» (interview with Steven Heller), Print online magazine, September 2012


«Hall C versus Billi» (interview with Matthieu Meyer), Azimuts no. 37 – 38, 2012, pp. 81 – 92


«What's to be seen: scriptural gestures», in Graphic Design: History in the Writing (1983 – 2011) edited by Catherine de Smet and Sara De Bondt, Occasional Papers, 2012


«SP / LA», Le Salon no. 4, review of the École Supérieure d’Art de Metz-Métropole / ÉSAMM Research Center, 2012


«Échelles du signe» (interview with Alban-Paul Valmary), online review From — To, March 2011


«A revolution of the ductus», in The Art and Life of Chaz Bojórquez, Damiani, 2010


«Marking in L.A.» (interview with Steven Heller), Aiga online «Inspiration» articles, November 2009


Cholo Writing: Latino Gang Graffiti in Los Angeles, Dokument Press, 136 pages, 2009 • ISBN 978-91-85639-21-2


«Lire entre les lignes. À propos de Structure of Connection conçu par Wladyslaw Pluta», Back Cover no. 2, 2009


«Placas in Los Angeles, the first suburban blackletters?», Baseline no. 55, 2008, pp. 6 – 13


Pixação: São Paulo Signature, XGpress, 280 pages, 2007 • ISBN 978-2-9528097-1-9 (English) • ISBN 978-2-9528097-0-2 (French)


«Pichação», Eye no. 56, 2005, pp. 40 – 47


Profile

François Chastanet (1975) is an architect & graphic designer, co-founder of the studio TypoMorpho based in Bordeaux, France. Teaches graphic design and typography since 2002 in the Graphic Design Department of the Institut Supérieur des Arts de Toulouse / ISDAT, and jointly from 2010 to 2012 in the Design Department of the École Supérieure d’Art et de Design de Saint Étienne / ESADSE.

Writes on contemporary epigraphy, with a special interest in the visual communication of urban cultures. Published in 2007 a work of reference entitled Pixação: São Paulo Signature, a photographic survey documenting the relation between urban signature, body and architecture and a second work in 2009 at Dokument Press entitled Cholo Writing: Latino Gang Graffiti in Los Angeles. Laureate in 2011 of the «Hors Les Murs» international program of the Institut Français, published in 2013 at Dokument Press a new documentary project entitled Dishu: Ground Calligraphy in China about contemporary calligraphic practices in Chinese public spaces.


 
 

 
 

Pixação

The city of São Paulo, Brazil, has been invaded by an unprecedented writing movement, known as «pixação», a manifestation of major interference with the urban landscape, vastly exceeding in terms of quantity all hitherto recognized graffiti situations. A true calligraphic shock, that has caused a deep aesthetic transformation of the city since the end of the 1980s. Through numerous photos taken at the core of the Brazilian megalopolis as well as a detailed analysis of the phenomenon, «São Paulo Signature» deciphers for the very first time an unparalleled graphic universe, strictly reserved to initiates before today. The observed «pixações» can be seen as an expression of the consequences of the 21th century megapolis conditions on the drawing of letterforms, an unespected evolution of the latin alphabet.

«Pixadores have coined a gestural written language all their own, using the buildings of São Paulo as veritable signboards for their messages. The astute analysis which is expanded upon in this volume, opened my myopic eyes to a system of writing and ethic of creation that rises above even the most high-spirited and emblematic American graffiti. For residents of São Paulo it may contribute to blight, but in its massiveness it is an urban wonder» (extract from the foreword of Steven Heller).


title: Pixação: São Paulo Signature | author: François Chastanet | publisher: XG Press, Paris | size: 19,5 × 26 cm | cover: colour hard cover | content: 280 pages, 125 colour photographs, 85 black & white illustrations | texts: 4 original essays by the author & foreword by Steven Heller | ISBN 978-2-9528097-1-9 (English version), ISBN 978-2-9528097-0-2 (French version) | official release date: April 2007 | international distribution: Gingko Press, Critique Livres (FR).

Cholo

Cholo writing is the 20th century’s oldest form of graffiti, evident in Los Angeles long before the appearance of tags and pieces in the early 1970s New York. It has had a major influence on the visual expressions of Californian popular culture, including the lowrider, surf, skate and hip-hop movements. Cholo writing is a Mexican-American phenomenom based on blackletter typography. The inscriptions are territorial signs, created to define a gang’s turf. A genuine urban calligraphy with strict codes, it was developed by Latino gangs for street writing. Here, for the first time, the evolution and aesthetic of Cholo writing is documented and the influence of gothic typefaces is traced.

«Cholo Writing: Latino Gang Graffiti in Los Angeles» presents two collections of photographs: one by Californian Howard Gribble, who photographed Latino gang graffiti over a wide geographic area in the 1970s, and one by French graphic designer and writer François Chastanet, who travelled to the same neighborhoods more than thirty years later to document today’s inscriptions. Foreword by Chaz Bojórquez.


title: Cholo Writing: Latino Gang Graffiti in Los Angeles | author: François Chastanet | publisher: Dokument Press, Stockholm | size: 16 × 24 cm | cover: colour paperback cover with flaps | content: 136 pages, 75 photographs, 5 calligraphic illustrations | texts: 2 original essays by the author & Howard Gribble, foreword by Chaz Bojórquez | ISBN 978-91-85639-21-2 (English language) | official release date: October 2009 | international distribution: SCB Distributors (USA), Turnaround (UK, Europe), InterArt (FR).

Dishu

Thousands of anonymous street calligraphers operate daily in Chinese parks and streets, endlessly tracing texts composed of «hanzi» characters that slowly disappear as the water evaporates. This phenomenon called «dishu» (earth writing or practicing ephemeral calligraphy on the ground using clear water as ink) appeared in the beginning of the 1990s in a North Beijing park and soon spread to most major Chinese cities. Based on classic Chinese literature, poetry or aphorisms, these monumental letterings, ranging from static regular to highly cursive styles, make the whole body break into a spontaneous dance and infinite formal renewals. This street calligraphic practice corresponds to both a socializing need and an individual search for self accomplishment or improvement.

«Dishu: Ground Calligraphy in China» is the first survey on contemporary calligraphic practices in Chinese public spaces, documented during the summer of 2011 in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenyang. It takes the form of a major photographic essay, which traces the roots of this handwriting phenomenon and its development in Chinese society, analyses in detail the home-made writing tools specially designed for street lettering and explores its possible transposition into other writing cultures.


title: Dishu: Ground Calligraphy in China | author: François Chastanet | publisher: Dokument Press, Stockholm | dimension: 16 × 24 cm | cover: black & white paperback cover with flaps | content: 320 pages, more than 150 photographs, 3 illustrations | texts: 1 original essay by the author | ISBN 978-91-85639-59-5 (English language & traditionnal Chinese) | official release date: May 2013 | international distribution: SCB Distributors (USA), Turnaround (UK, Europe), InterArt (FR).


 

Sequences

A video collection of uncut sequences presenting various anonymous street calligraphers in Chinese public spaces. Watch the Dishu official trailer.

 

Workshop

Experiments with Latin letters using Chinese home-made street calligraphic brushes, Utrecht, NL, 2011, an event organized by Impakt & Hoax, video editing by Remko Dekker. This workshop explores strategies to invade public spaces through ephemeral lettering, first attempt to spread the Chinese practice of «dishu» in an Occidental context. Each participant was invited to create his own writing tool and to make experiments following several latin lettering models optimized for street calligraphy.

 
 

 
 

Selected Works


Report of the exhibition entitled «François Chastanet — Architecture & Lettering: Documentaries & Projects» presented in May and June 2013 at Okendo Cultural Center, Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain [A4 format / 22 pages].


Posters

A selection of posters from the Lpdme.org collaborative website, home made large size posters based on A4 paper format as module.


House & Tower, architectural photographs documenting São Paulo «pichação» lettering [49 A4 sheets / 208 × 147 cm].


Labyrinth, how to draw a labyrinth with a cross and four dots [49 A4 sheets / 208 × 147 cm].


Droit, Henri Lefebvre and Le droit à la ville, «Quotations» series [49 A4 sheets / 208 × 147 cm].


Feff, Louis Henri Sullivan and Form Ever Follows Function design statement, «Quotations» series [32 A4 sheets / 168 × 119 cm].


Troupeau, Bernard Stiegler and individualism in Aimer, s'aimer, nous aimer, «Quotations» series [49 A4 sheets / 208 × 147 cm].


Shoplift, Jean Eustache and books in La maman et la putain from the «Quotations» series [49 A4 sheets / 208 × 147 cm].


Booklets

A selection of booklets from the Lpdme.org collaborative website, a home made collection based on folded A4 sheets and ring binders.


That Place, At Any Rate, reprint of three articles of Ken Garland, some thoughts on street lettering, from corporate logotypes to graffiti: «Horrible, horrible ?» (1988), «Improper lettering» (1988), «Design and the Spirit of the Place» (1995) [A5 format / 14,5 × 21 cm / 38 pages].


Metropolis, reprint in french and english in an unique booklet of the article of Georg Simmel «Die Großstädte und das Geistesleben» (1903): «Métropoles et mentalité» and «The Metropolis and Mental Life» [10,5 × 29,7 cm / 54 pages].


Kool Killer, reprint in french of the original article of Jean Baudrillard «Kool Killer ou l'insurrection par les signes» (1976), reflexions on the early graffiti of New York. A complete english translation «Kool Killer or the insurrection of signs» is also available in this booklet [A5 format / 14,5 × 21 cm / 40 pages].


 
 

 
 

 


 

 


 

2013


Workshop «Latin Dishu — Expansion Contrast» experimenting ephemeral lettering in public spaces at the École Supérieure d'Art des Pyrénées / Ésap in Pau from 16th to 20th December 2013, lecture entitled «L'eau comme encre», 17th December 2013, 18h, Médiathèque André Labarrère.


Master Class entitled «Visual identities emerging from megacities: the case study of São Paulo & Los Angeles» at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas / ENAP, 15th November 2013, 12h30, Auditorium Francisco Goitia, Xochimilco, Mexico City.


Lecture entitled «Water as Ink» at the 9th International Symposium of the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas / ENAP, Universida Nacional Autonoma de México / UNAM, 13th November 2013, 14h30, Auditorium Francisco Goitia, Xochimilco, Mexico City.


Lecture & meeting at Grupo Horma, 11th November 2013, 19h00, Mexico City.


Lecture entitled «Water as Ink» presented at KIKK Festival in Namur, Belgium, 8th November 2013.


Lecture entitled «Pixo, Cholo, Dishu — Urban Documentaries & Global Lettering» presented during the 8th edition of the Festival Asalto in Zaragoza, Spain, 11th September 2013, 19h. Workshop on ephemeral lettering in public spaces 13th & 14th September with Chinese street lettering brushes.


Lecture entitled «L'eau comme encre — Pratiques calligraphiques dans l'espace public chinois, expérimentations pour une diffusion globale» presented at the Institut Mémoires de l'édition contemporaine / IMEC, Abbaye des Ardennes in Caen, France, 29th June 2013.


Monographic exhibition in collaboration with Atari Cultura Arquitectónica presented at Okendo Cultural Center, Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain, from 8th May to 29th June 2013. Official launch of the book Dishu: Ground Calligraphy in China.


Lecture entitled «Urban Documentaries & teaching lettering» presented at Bold Italic 2013 conference, March 2013 in Ghent, Belgium.

2012


Publication of an interview in the review Azimuts no. 37 – 38, a special double issue focusing on the relation between low cost and design.


Publication of the article «What's to be seen: scriptural gestures» in Graphic Design: History in the Writing (1983 – 2011), a reader edited by Catherine de Smet and Sara De Bondt and published by Occasionnal Papers.


Lecture entitled «Dishu: écritures éphémères dans l'espace public chinois» presented for the Printemps de la Typo 2012 conference about the topic «Writing and Power», Tuesday 10th April in Colbert auditorium of the Institut National du Patrimoine / INP in Paris.


Participation to the group show Ever Living Ornement, large scale photographic poster and videos from the documentary project «Dishu: Ground Calligraphy in China», opening Friday 5 April in L'Onde, Vélizy (Paris), an exhibition presented until 1st July.


The New York Times publishes on 28th January an article about São Paulo and the «pixação» phenomenon, a report written by Simon Romero.


Participation to the session #3 of the meeting series «Situations du graphisme» at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Lyon / ENSBA at the Subsistances, Thursday 19th January from 15 to 18h, free entrance.


2011


Photographic exhibition together with Howard Gribble entitled «Cholo Writing 1971 – 2008» in Köln, Germany, at Arty Farty Gallery, opening 26th November 2011.


Intervention «Lettering in public space», 12th November 2011 in Utrecht, Netherlands. This workshop explores ephemeral strategies to invade public spaces through lettering, trying to spread the Chinese practice of «dishu» or water-based ground calligraphy made with giant foam brushes in an Occidental context. Each participant was invited to create his own writing tool and to make experiments following several lettering models optimized for street calligraphy. A comprehensive video is available on Impakt.nl association You Tube Channel that organized this event.


The Graphic Design & Architecture special issue #185 / August 2011 of the French review Étapes features the poster «Tower» from Lpdme.org website downloads section.


Lecture & photo exhibition Sunday 27th February 2011 at the Plateforme gallery in Paris about the book «Cholo Writing in Los Angeles».


Lecture & meeting Monday 10th January 2011 at the École Supérieure d’Art de Metz Métropole / ÉSAMM about the book «Cholo Writing in Los Angeles».

2010


The issue #187 / December 2010 of the French review Étapes focuses on Garonne typeface’s specimen presented during the exhibition «N-1» of the 2010 St Étienne International Design Biennal.


Some drawings published fall 2010 in Graphic: Inside the Sketchbooks of the World’s Great Graphic Designers by Steven Heller & Lita Talarico, The Monacelli Press in the US and Thames & Hudson for Europe.


A video interview (in French) is avaiblable online on the Typographe website about the approach developped in the books «Cholo Writing» and «Pixação: São Paulo Signature», a meeting organized by Jérémie Baboukhian.


A short video presentation about the book «Cholo Writing» is avaiblable online on the YouTube channel of Mollat bookshop in Bordeaux, France.


Participation to the themathic exhibition «Graphic Design… Architecture» organized by the Maison de l’Architecture et de la Ville / MAV in Lille from 19th October to 23th December 2010.


Participation to the group show Codex curated by HyperTexte & ManyStuff in Toulouse from 16th to 17 October 2010, with the two books «Cholo Writing» and «São Paulo Signature» in consultation.


Recruitment as Professor in Graphic Design and Typography at the École Supérieure d’Art & Design de Saint Étienne / ESADSE, Design Department.


Lecture at the conference «Livres À Venir», an event curated by Stéphane Le Mercier, 8th October 2010 at the École des Arts Décoratifs de Strasbourg / ÉSAD.


Exhibition at Mollat’s bookshop in Bordeaux from 25th August to 15th September 2010, large scale photographs from the book «Cholo Writing».


Participation to a group show organized by IFF Gallery from 10th July to 15th August 2010 in Marseille against the theme of mourning. Featured artists: François Chastanet, Sarah Dornner, Douglas Gordon, Graham Gussin, Alan Johnston, Adam McEwen, Scott Myles, Gary Rough, Seán Shanahan, Tony Scherman, Fraser Stables, and Phoebe Unwin.


Workshop on monumental lettering & banners from 20 to 25th March 2010 and lecture about the book «Cholo Writing» at the École Régionale des Beaux-Arts de Besançon.


Lecture / meeting Friday 5th February 2010 organized by Les Rencontres de Lure in Anatome gallery, Paris, about the book «Cholo Writing in Los Angeles».

2009


Aiga website publishes an interview by Steven Heller about the project «Cholo Writing».


Lecture about Cholo writing during «Typ09», the annual conference of AtypI (Association Typographique Internationale), 26th October 2009 at 11:00 am in Mexico City at the Museo Interactivo de Economía (MIDE), located in the historic Convent of Betlemitas.


Publication in October 2009 of «Cholo Writing. Latino Gang Graffiti in Los Angeles» at Dokument Press publishing house, a work about «cholo» writing practiced by chicano gangs in Los Angeles’ suburbs.


Lecture and intervention Tuesday 19th May 2009 in a workshop proposed by Juan Aizpitarte at the Bordeaux fine art school / BA-BX.


Publication of an article entitled «Reading between the lines» in the French review BackCover #2 about «Structures of Connections», a work designed by the graphic designer Wladislaw Pluta (1949) based in Kraków, Poland.


Intervention at the École Supérieure d’Art & Design de Saint Étienne / ESADSE, one week workshop on lettering and type design from 20 to 24th April 2009.


The issue #164 / January 2009 of the French review Étapes presents a small article about Lpdme.org website paper projects.

2008


Brazilian magazine Carta Capital published in December 2008 an article about the invasion of the 28th Bienal de Artes de São Paulo and of the Oscar Niemeyer building where the exhibition took place by a group of pixadores, a facsimile is available on this site.


Publication of an article entitled «Placas in Los Angeles, the first suburban blackletters?» in the international typographics magazine Baseline no. 55, a survey on «Cholo» writing in 20th century graffiti history, the written language of Mexican American culture in suburban Los Angeles, Southern California.


Lecture on Friday 16th May 2008 at 2:00 pm at the École Estienne in Paris, about the book «Pixação: São Paulo Signature».


Lecture on Thursday 15th May 2008 at 5:00 pm at the École Supérieure d’Art et de Design d’Amiens / ESAD, about the book «Pixação: São Paulo Signature».


As part of the Bordeaux architecture biennale Agora 2008, exhibition in the bookshop Mollat, from Saturday 5th to Saturday 26th April 2008, six large scale photographs from the book «Pixação: São Paulo Signature».


Lecture on Tuesday 18th March 2008 at 5:00 pm at the École Régionale des Beaux-Arts de Rennes / ERBA, about the book «Pixação: São Paulo Signature».


Lecture entitled «Signature, body & architecture» Saturday 1st March 2008 at Green on Red Gallery in Dublin, an invitation by Dennis McNulty during his exhibition «Framework / Rupture», from February 8th to March 8th.


Exhibition in the bookshop Mollat in Bordeaux, from Monday 28th January to Monday 11th February 2008, six large scale photographs from the book «Pixação: São Paulo Signature».

2007


Paperideas published online an interview on the book «Pixação: São Paulo Signature» and the typographical project «Garonne».


Lecture on Wednesday 28th November 2007 at 6:00 pm at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs / ENSAD, Paris, about the book «Pixação: São Paulo Signature».


Alejandro Lo Celso will give a talk about his recent works and the typographical project Garonne conducted in 2006 with students of the Communication Department of the Fine Arts school of Toulouse, France, Friday 23th November 2007 at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs / ENSAD, Paris.


French magazine Archistorm published in June 2007 a review about the work «Pixação: São Paulo Signature», a facsimile is available on this site.


Étapes magazine published in June 2007 a review about the work «Pixação: São Paulo Signature», a facsimile is available on this site.


Publication in April 2007 of «Pixação: São Paulo Signature» at XGpress publishing house, a work (internationally distributed by Gingko Press and in France by Critiques Livres) about «pixações», an illegal vernacular lettering phenomenon in São Paulo, Brazil. This project documents the relation between urban signature, the body, and the architectural environment.


Lecture on Thursday 1st February 2007 at the École des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux about the work developped on the website www.lpdme.org, the book and the poster as modular constructions.

2006


Selection of images issued from the photographic campaign in the streets of São Paulo in February 2004 (twelve inkjet prints, format 145 × 100 cm on polypropylene canvas), exhibition presented from October 26th to November 5th at the Artothèque de Pessac (Bordeaux, France) during the 2006 edition of the festival «Vibrations Urbaines».


Invitation in Lisbon in September 2006 to give a talk about São Paulo letteforms during «Typographical Journeys», the 50th ATypI (Association Typographique Internationale) annual conference at the Universidade de Lisboa / Faculdade de Belas Artes. Some online comments and images of the lecture. An abstract is also available on AtypI website.

2005


Invitation in London in October 2005 to present a lecture during «Temporary Type», the fourth annual St Bride Library conference. Read a short résumé of the lecture online.


Publication of an article entitled «Pichação» in the international graphic design review Eye no. 56.


Invitation in April 2005 to «Codice 5», an international conference in information design at UDLA (Universidad de las Americas) in Puebla, Mexico.


Invitation in March 2005 to give a conference and a workshop at the École Régionale des Beaux-Arts de Besançon.

2004


Invitation in March 2004 to participate to the seminar «Les écrits urbains: images, enquêtes, enjeux» at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, an event organized by Béatrice Fraenkel, EHESS.


Workshop and lecture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków / ASP, Poland, Industrial Design Department, a graphic reflexion about bilingual page layout in book design, French and Polish for this occasion.

2003


Launching of the website Lpdme.org, original concept and coordination: presentation of PDF documents which can be downloaded free of charge, filed and reconstructed by the user at home in paper form, exploring the relationship between the printed object/screen in contemporary graphic practices. The website received the contribution of articles from international personalities of the graphic design field such as Ken Garland or Alejandro Lo Celso.

2002


Professor in Graphic Design and Typography at the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Toulouse, Communication Department. Recruitment on competition.

2001


Invited professor at Konstfack, University College of Arts and Crafts and Design of Stockholm, Department of Graphic Design and Illustration: one week workshop and presentation of a lecture about graphic design and its relation with architecture, notably through signage system projects.