Typewriter Artist Paul Smith
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.
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@ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _
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" 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" Detail
News Report on Paul Smith
"Lighthouse on a Starry Night"
"Lighthouse on a Starry Night" Detail
Paul Smith Stills & Story Video
"The Old Mill"
"The Old Mill" Detail
LINKS for More About Paul Smith
- Paul Smith Foundation
The Paul Smith Foundation webpage has a large sampling of his artwork, a biography, and several video clips.
- Paul Smith's Obituary
An overview of Smith's life and artwork, up until his death in 2007.
- All the Way Around the Block
Paul Smith's life and achievements stand as an inspiration to others with physical challenges.
- Chess and Art
A beautiful tribute to the life of Paul Smith and his artistry in both typewriter pictures and the difficult mastery of chess.
Another Typewriter Artist
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