Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wednesday Wonder: Paul Smith's Typewriter Art

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.


Dave King said...

It's fascinating stuff. Thanks for it.

Louise Gallagher said...

The most poignant part of his work is his typed by signature.

I've seen his work before -- but never visited the online foundation or seen the video.


Thanks Maureen.

Marylinn Kelly said...

This is a Wednesday wonder...something, someone about which I knew nothing. Have been thinking how we all, in some fashion, live adaptively. Some, it seems, much more skillfully than others. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

good one.

Hannah Stephenson said...

Oh, how amazing and incredibly beautiful. Thank you.

Kathleen Overby said...

Loverby is looking over my shoulder - we're both exclaiming in unison every few seconds, "Unbelievable"