François Chastanet has a background in architecture and graphic design specializing in typography. His published work is an anthropological and historical approach to typography in public spaces. From this standpoint he investigated, through photography, the origins of “Cholo writing”, the graffiti of Latino gangs in Los Angeles.
Cholo writing can be traced back to the 1950s, long before the New York graffiti boom of the late 1970s.
He also investigated the inimitable Pixação letter style of the “pixadores”, grafitti writers from the favelas of Sao Paulo who took the city into their own hands. Their work becomes a political statement, wherein graffiti writers undertake dangerous or life-threatening actions in order to become visible. Recently, Chastanet completed extensive research into the phenomenon of water-based calligraphy made with giant brushes on the streets of China. Chastanet has published several books on Pixação including: São Paulo Signature and Cholo Writing in Los Angeles.