Paul Smith (1921-2007), as his biography notes, was a remarkable person. Denied a formal education because of severe cerebral palsy, which also limited his ability to speak, Smith became an artist. . . with the help of a manual typewriter. Unable to use both hands at the same time, needing to use one to hold down the other as it pressed the typewriter keys, Smith created images based on several letters and an assortment of ASCII characters: @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) - . He's been called "The Father of ASCII Art" and also "ASCII Art's Grandfather".
Refining techniques he developed over some 70 years, Smith made hundreds of typewriter pictures, each taking several months to create, all full of shadings, colors, textures. His subjects ranged from Americana, animal portraits, and seascapes, to trains, Christian art, portraits of American presidents, and World War II. Look at any of the artworks here; if you did not know otherwise, you might remark on the skillful use Smith made of his fine drawing pencils, pastels, or charcoal.
Although Smith's originals remain largely in the hands of those to whom he presented his gifts, copies were maintained and have become Smith's gift to all of us.
Time-lapse Demo of Stages in Making a Portrait by Typewriter
Flickr Photostream of Smith's Typewriter Art
Other artists who use typewriters in their work, though without the challenges imposed by an incurable neurological disorder, include Keira Rathbone.