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Typewriter Artist Paul Smith

Updated on December 30, 2010

Paul Smith, Typewriter Artist

Paul Smith was born with severe cerebral palsy and his parents were told he had no chance of surviving his infancy. Despite handicaps that kept him out of school, Paul went on to create a whole new art form using only paper and a manual typewriter - but this is NOT your regular old ASCII art, so don't be fooled! He was also a masterful chess player and rarely turned down a chance to play.

Paul Smith was born in Philadelphia on 21 September 1921. He died at age 85 on 25 June 2007.

100% of proceeds generated from this lens will go to benefit the March of Dimes.

@ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _

Paul's Artistic Medium

Because of the spasticity caused by his cerebral palsy, Paul was unable to button his shirt or hold a toothbrush, much less a paintbrush. He was unable even to press two keys on the keyboard at the same time, but had to use his left hand to steady his right hand as he typed. Consequently, he usually put the caps lock on, and typed his art using the characters @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _. Every stroke of this type of artwork must be planned in advance. White spaces will have to be left blank; outlines must be consistent around the entire picture.

Despite his own physical limitations and the narrow scope of his chosen medium, Paul was able to create amazing artwork, both original pieces and copies of famous works of art such as DaVinci's Mona Lisa.

"Mona Lisa"

"Mona Lisa"
"Mona Lisa"

"Mona Lisa" Eyes

"Mona Lisa" Eyes
"Mona Lisa" Eyes

Developing His Art

From simpler pictures, Paul grew in skill, developing techniques and methods to create subtle shapes and shading. His later artwork resembled pencil or charcoal drawings. Only close inspection would reveal the true character of the strokes, hatchmarks, and asterisks that made up the artwork.

Paul often gave away his work. He was passionate about his gifts and believed that others should utilize their gifts, whatever those might be, as well.

The other gift that Paul had, and concentrated on developing, was his chess game. The intense planning that went into creating each work of typewriter art, which had to be completely planned out before the first stroke was placed, served him well in the planning and strategy necessary to play a good chess game. Paul frequently played with visitors to the nursing home where he spent the last 40 years of his life, as well as carrying on several games by correspondence.

"My Dog"

"My Dog"
"My Dog"

"My Dog" Detail

"My Dog" Detail
"My Dog" Detail

News Report on Paul Smith

"Lighthouse on a Starry Night"

"Lighthouse on a Starry Night"
"Lighthouse on a Starry Night"

"Lighthouse on a Starry Night" Detail

"Lighthouse on a Starry Night" Detail
"Lighthouse on a Starry Night" Detail

Paul Smith Stills & Story Video

"The Old Mill"

"The Old Mill"
"The Old Mill"

"The Old Mill" Detail

"The Old Mill" Detail
"The Old Mill" Detail

"Self-Portrait"

"Self-Portrait"
"Self-Portrait"

Another Typewriter Artist

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What Do You Think of Paul Smith? - Paul Smith, Typewriter Artist, on Squidoo

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    • profile image

      cindyloo 2 years ago

      This is so beautiful. I want to buy a piece of his art.

    • profile image

      Bob 2 years ago

      How can I buy a piece of art by Paul?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      WOW!!!!! What an inspiration!

      Paul truly is and has a gift from God!

      I am a single mom of a 3 year old boy with CP and this has truly inspired me! I have never underestimated a child with a disability and Paul is a perfect example of why!

      Now I have seen first hand, 2 examples of why we should never give up.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      God truly gave him an awesome talent!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      One man's journey, beautiful art work! What spirit! An Inspiration!

    • Seasons Greetings profile image

      Laura Brown 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      The Paul Smith Foundation link is a dud now. Looks like they sold the domain, or just let it go. Either way the domain is just a place holder/ spam now.

    • Seasons Greetings profile image

      Laura Brown 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I've seen posts about Paul Smith before. You created a good one. Thanks.

    • italianizeyours profile image

      italianizeyours 7 years ago

      Wow, that's really neat. When I saw the title, I thought that it would be simple pictures, but these are pretty complex. Paul overcame a lot, and it makes me feel guilty that I sometimes feel bad for myself. This is inspriational.

    • ottoblotto profile image

      ottoblotto 7 years ago

      Totally cool lens! You've been very busy.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 7 years ago

      absolutely awesome! great lens...a ~"Squid Angel Blessing"~

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 8 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Absolutely amazing story. Wow! Returning the lensroll to my Typewriter History lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Where can you buy it?!!

      If anyone knows -- please leave message here, I want some!

      Thank you.

    • AlisonMeacham profile image

      AlisonMeacham 8 years ago

      What amazing art work. Great lens as always.

    • profile image

      ratopiangirl 8 years ago

      This is so cool.

    • profile image

      WebSpinstress 8 years ago

      Amazing artwork! Who knew a typewriter could be used as an artistic medium for multiple formats? :-) 5*'s!

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 8 years ago

      His art is simply amazing! Very nice work on this lens!