How Sebastián Chicchón reinterprets visual traditions through type-led design
The Peruvian graphic designer is constantly pushing himself to experiment with new forms and tap into untouched corners of the culture.
- Roz Jones
- 18 October 2022
It’s easy to understand why Sebastián Chicchón has a laundry list of clients, ranging from Katy Perry to Coca-Cola and Pi'erre Bourne. Despite only getting into design later, the Peruvian creative has always been enamoured by visual culture, commenting that “design has always been a fascination of mine although I didn't notice that for many years”. He unknowingly began working on his process in his adolescence when he’d cut out images and typography from Spanish film magazines that his father bought. “As a kid growing up in Lima, Peru, I remember I used to paste all kinds of stickers with colourful images and typography on the door of my bedroom,” he reminisces. By fortunate happenstance, his love for the discipline was reignited with a personal art project. The rest is history.
Sebastián carried this cut and paste approach into his professional career – utilising bits and pieces from far corners of the internet to produce something entirely new. “I feel that the mixture of completely different things sparks my creativity and I believe this combination of interests and influences can be seen throughout all of my work," he says. His designs are therefore littered with nods to mass media, fragments of niche cultural material and experimental elaborations on well-loved iconography. Sebastián's use of these stylistic cues speaks not only to his visual tenacity but to his refined sensitivity to those enduring graphic hallmarks. It’s the respect that he has for these visual traditions – honouring the qualities that made them successful while adding a completely new dimension – that makes his work so interesting.
The breadth of his influences is especially felt where contrasting styles are blended into a stylistic mish mash that, by all accounts, shouldn’t work. His effortless movement from chromatic type-led designs that glimmer on stage to softer filmic graphics show Sebastián's deep understanding of the craft.
Before diving into a project, Sebastián scopes out exactly what it is that everyone involved wants. His recent foray into film poster production, for instance, meant that this was even more important. For the designer, it all comes down to trust. “I have the luck most of the time to work with amazing directors from different parts of the world who really trust my taste and give me a lot of freedom to explore,” he notes. It’s this freedom that enables him to push his creative boundaries. “This collaborative environment allows me to come up with different ideas and wild concepts."
Being a keen observer of creative history, Sebastián knows his onions. In working on the title for the 44 music video by Bad Gyal and Rema, he was given “a few stills from the film as a reference and a tight deadline”. But, he was immediately set on how he wanted it to look. “It was the first time I saw my design work used in a live concert, so that was very exciting for me,” he says. The shimmering crystal 44 was projected on stage at the Caviar Urban Music festival. It features hints of Sebastián's retro-futurist influences as well as the fluid typographic style that can be seen in earlier projects like Suspiria and Dalila.
Take some time to scan through Sebastián's designs and you might find traces of 80’s punk aesthetics alongside 2000’s euro-kitsch, or Metallica-esque work framed by a title card reminiscent of a Spaghetti Western. It’s this archival approach to visual history that energises Sebastián's practice and pushes him to explore new avenues. “I'm constantly exploring different fields of my artistic side. All I know is I will continue to work on the things I love as long as I feel free and happy with what I'm doing,” he concludes.
Sebastián Chicchón: L'Haine (Copyright © Sebastián Chicchón, 2022)
About the Author
Roz (he/him) joined It’s Nice That for three months as an editorial assistant in October 2022 after graduating from Magazine Journalism and Publishing at London College of Communication. He’s particularly interested in publications, archives and multi-media design.