Typewriter Art

Typewriter art predates ASCII Art, and anticipates many of its techniques. See Basics of ASCII Art.

October 1898 typewriter art, by Flora Stacy in Phonetic Journal. (source)
October 1898 typewriter art, by Flora Stacy in Phonetic Journal. (source)

Flora Stacy is the first well-known typewriter artist, although people were playing with the possibilities of typewriter art from the invention of the very first typewriter. Stacy’s picture of a butterfly, typed on an early typewriter, appeared in the Phonetic Journal in 1898.

Interestingly, typewriters allow more granular positioning of the typed elements than most electronic means, allowing for the creation of more organic looking compositions. Also, on older manual typewriters the darkness of the letter can be adjusted through the force with which the key is hit.

Works such as the Portrait of Nicole Kidman by Keira Rathbone make use of this ability to position, overtype, and vary darkness. (html)

Portrait of Nicole Kidman, by Keira Rathbone (source)
Portrait of Nicole Kidman, by Keira Rathbone (source)

Paul Smith, a man with cerebral palsy, is famous for his typewriter art. To see his technique, try Paul Smith’s Typewriter Art.

Typewriter artists even did things close to emojis. See Typewriter Emojis.

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