The Type Directors Club (TDC) is delivering a grand conference right around the corner, next Friday, March 3rd, and Saturday, March 4th. The main conference will be held virtually, gathering speakers from all over the continent and abroad allowing anyone to attend. In addition, there will be adjoining conferences in-person in the cities of New York, California, Belo Horizonte, and São Paulo. The Cha Che Chi conference aims to discuss how typography is used to form and transform creative communities and the broader culture in Latin America.
For the local parties, TDC will be partnering with leading Latin American design agencies in order to make the magic happen: Tátil Design (São Paulo), Greco Design (Belo Horizonte), Porto Rocha (New York) and Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography (California). The combo of creators promises to deliver a dynamic range and rhythm of the continent’s culture as it manifests visually, and – of course – topographically.
On the Cha Che Chi website, the organizers define its main goal as to “explore how the connection to history and heritage manifests among Latin American diaspora, and showcase for the rest of the world how Latin American typography and design exists and innovates.”
The conference avows to cover a range of topics, from amateur street lettering to agency boardroom campaigns. The presentations and discussions will include the behind-the-scenes of a logotype that dances to the beat of Rio Carnival, distinctive reinterpretations of popular Mexican imagery, Perú’s Chicha public placard and poster styles, the evolution of a campaign to raise women’s voices, and how lettering and politics mix in the famous distinctive style of Brazilian graffiti Pichação.
Curated by Latin Americans, the lineup was coordinated by Sol Matas, a Berlin-based independent type designer originally from Argentina and a member of the TDC Advisory Board, and Laura Scofield, a Brazilian-born, New York-based graphic designer, and educator who currently serves as Sr. Design Manager at The Atlantic Re:think and Part-Time Faculty at The New School.
This is not, however, the first time the Type Directors Club holds conferences and conversations exploring cultural typography. In November 2022, TDC dived into Native Noth American typography with the conference Ezhishin.
“We were fortunate enough to get sponsorship from Google for the Ezhishin videos, so now all of the presentations from those days (outside of hangouts and workshops) are available for viewing“, explains TDC’s Managing Director, Ksenya Samarskaya.
“Ezhishin answered questions I’ve been wondering about for a while regarding Indigenous opinions and perspectives, and opened the door for further, deeper explorations—there are so many voices and communities that historically haven’t been listened to in lieu of dominant culture’s dictum.”
Chabonga, Chela, Checar, Chulo: the mix between Cha Che Chi’s name
As a lot of you are probably asking – I know I did –, the origin of the name Cha Che Chi. Coined by Sol Matas, it derives from a huge mix of sounds that echo across Latin America, in words such as chabona, chango, chava, chela, checar, chicha, chichón, chido, chimichurri, chulo, churro, salsicha, chimarrão, bochecha, pichação. Across languages, that common alliteration connects the cultures of the continent, serving as a thread amongst very diverse people.
“Cha Che Chi is a unique forum for the design communities to explore cultures and practices that aren’t often gathered on the same stage,” Matas, Scofield, and Samarskaya explain on the conference webpage. “The scope of Latin American communities is enormous and spread over a vast geography including the diaspora. This will be a rare opportunity to learn from, and celebrate the abundance it has to offer.”
We asked the artists Nubia Navarro, Gustavo Greco, Raphaël Verona, Carga Maxima, and Porto Rocha how they feel participating in a conference dedicated to their continent, their roots, and the different typography each one offers culturally. Check what they said:
“I feel honored to be part of a space that allows me to connect, as well as get to know the work of other creatives from my continent and from around the world. Being part of the efforts to bring together and grow the community while recognizing and making visible much of what we are made of”
— Nubia Navarro, Nubikini
“Participating in events such as Cha Che Chi presents a singular opportunity to connect with designers who share our cultural heritage, and to broaden our perspectives by learning from a diverse range of experiences and viewpoints. Moreover, it provides us with a platform to showcase our own projects and demonstrate the creative power of Brazilian endeavors.”
— Gustavo Greco, Greco Design
“The TDC through Cha Che Chi offers visibility to many designers from a vivacious and culturally vibrant continent. In fact, the world is looking towards South America: it is difficult not to feel concerned by the social-political-ecological crises that are taking place there. And let’s not forget its music, its cinema, and its literature!
As far as I am concerned, in addition to the family and cultural connections, and the feelings that attach me to this continent, I have been working for a long time in Switzerland. I also studied here (ECAL Lausanne). It wouldn’t be honest not to consider myself a Swiss designer—even if I am not a big fan of labels; creolization is a subject around which I have had the chance to work through different prisms and through interdisciplinary collaborations. This is one of the themes I would like to bring up during my little conference.”
— Raphaël Verona, Altiplano
“Nos sentimos orgullosos de nuestras raices y de las manifestaciones visuales que forman parte de nuestra identidad peruana y latinoamericana; nos sentimos orgullosos de ver otros artistas por sus extraordinarios trabajos y su gran aporte a la práctica y el estudio de las letras.
Como nación latinoamericana tenemos un patrimonio cultural muy importante, y agradecemos estas oportunidades de mostrar y dialogar mediante nuestros trabajos. Nos motiva a seguir creciendo y sobre todo a seguir compartiendo nuestra visión de latinoamérica.”
(We are proud of our roots and of the visual manifestations that are part of our Peruvian and Latin American identity; we are proud to see other artists for their extraordinary works and their great contribution to the practice and study of letters.
As a Latin American nation, we have a very important cultural heritage, and we appreciate these opportunities to show and dialogue through our work. It motivates us to continue growing and above all to continue sharing our vision of Latin America.)
— Azucena Cabezas León & Alinder Espada Camones, Carga Maxima
“We’re excited to be a part of this conference, it is a good step in the right direction of making the design world more representative of different cultures, but there are always more ways to improve and become more inclusive. Cha Che Chi is a reflection of the times we are living in and there’s no way to ignore the work created by Latin designers anymore.”
— Felipe Rocha & Leo Porto, Porto Rocha
All around the world – and with gifts
As stated above, alongside the virtual conference, Cha Che Chi will provide space for connection and continued conversations via four in-person locations: New York, California, Belo Horizonte, and São Paulo. The in-person events aim to create space for networking and embodied celebrating – and will feature drinks sponsored by Other Half (Brooklyn), letterpress activities (Pasadena), video projections, Cha Che Chi gift bags (Belo Horizonte), and a promise of more yet to come.
See the schedule on the locations – the timezone follows each location’s time:
Brooklyn, New York
Friday, March 3
6:30 PM—10:00 PM
Saturday, March 4
3:45 PM—5:45 PM
Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Friday, March 3
São Paulo, Brazil
Friday, March 3
The Cha Che Chi main conference will be held online, on March 3rd and 4th, as a two-day showcase of presentations and panels. To facilitate a bit, you can change the timezone on their website according to your preference. If you’d like to know more, email email@example.com. Register on their webpage according to what time would be best, but honestly? Missing out should not be an option.