So you're telling me this art was created with a typewriter?

typewriter art
(Image credit: James Cook)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and one artist is out to prove that, making pictures from words by typing them out. He types his captivating visual art into existence with retro tools more associated with journalists and office secretaries than artists.

Anyone who thinks the typewriter is dead, should think again. James Cook has repurposed classic Remingtons and Silverettes as tools for creating art, even recreating works by artists as diverse as Van Gogh and Banksy in type (speaking of type, if you're wondering what fonts to use for digital projects, see our pick of the best free fonts).

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Cook is a 26-year-old artist from Essex who's been amazing audiences on social media with his detailed artworks created using old typewriters. He's types original work, including portraits and landscapes as well as recreations of famous pieces of art and photos of well known artists and other figures. 

As Twitter spiralled into chaos in recent week, Cook tweeted that “some technologies live forever," which he says was the guiding motive for his work. He started with Da Vinci's Mona Lisa as a tribute the typewriter artist Paul Smith, a pioneer of the medium, and then carried on from there. He's since typed up Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, Grant Wood’s American Gothic and a Van Gogh self portrait. 

The timelapse video below shows how the latter was created. Cook, who has a collection of 50 typewriters, says the piece took four attempts because of Van Gogh's tricky impressionistic style.

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As another nice touch, there are Easter eggs hidden in many of Cook's pieces, including references to things that were in the news when he was typing them – you just have to know where to look to find them, he says.

Cook's typed American Gothic - click top right to enlarge (Image credit: James Cook)

It may seem impossible to create art like this using a typewriter – some people might remember typing out stickmen in typing classes. But Cook even typed a two-metre-wide image of the London skyline made from half a million letters, numbers and punctuation marks, which took a month to complete. Cook says that with people he always starts with the eyes and then goes from there.

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Cooks set out to show that social media and digital platforms in don't have a monopoly on either the written work or the sharing of visual art, elevating a classic tool in the process. You can see more of Cook's work at his website jamescookartwork.com (opens in new tab).

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Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.