Striking Works of Art Made With a Manual Typewriter

Slate’s design blog.
April 4 2014 10:52 AM

Striking Designs From the World’s Typewriter Artists

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The author notes that the two panels of Carnival, made by Steve McCaffery between 1967 and 1975, are among the most significant pieces of typewriter art ever produced.

Courtesy of Laurence King

The typewriter may have become obsolete for committing thoughts to paper, but the object itself remains a powerful instrument for designers, artists, illustrators, poets, and writers, who have been using the pre-digital machinery to make art for more than a century.

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Alan Riddell's ‘o’ from The Seasons Suite, 1975–76, from an uncompleted serial visual poem by this major figure in the promotion of typewriter art.

Courtesy of Laurence King

Typewriter Art: A Modern Anthology by Barrie Tullett, a graphic designer and senior lecturer in graphic design at the Lincoln School of Art and Design in the United Kingdom, will be published later this month by Laurence King.

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Typewriter Art: A Modern Anthology contains 180 illustrations of work by typewriter artists from around the world.

Courtesy of Laurence King

"The definition of typewriter art can really only ever be a personal one," writes Tullett in the book's introduction. "For some artists, it is an object to draw—from the machine itself, to the ephemera associated with it (typewriter oils, ribbon cases and so on)—or ... a tool to draw with; a means of making art."

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Looking Forward, 2010 (left), and Typeface, 2004 (right), by Leslie Nichols. The artist combines texts with images to create mixed-media landscapes and portraits. Large-scale text pieces are made with hand-stamped oil-based inks and stencilled graphite; smaller, more intimate works are produced entirely with a manual typewriter.

Courtesy of Laurence King

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The author notes that "the book follows the development of the typewriter as a medium for creating work far beyond anything envisioned by the machine’s makers, from the earliest known works produced at the end of the 1800s, through the pioneers of the 1920s, to the exuberance of the concrete and kinetic poets of the 1950s, and on to a discussion of the relationship between typewritten text and narrative form."

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British fine artist Ruth Broadbent's String Wrapped (Typewriter) from 2012–13.

Courtesy of Laurence King

The book features 180 illustrations of work by typewriter artists from around the world as well as interviews with a handful of contemporary working typewriter artists.

Kristin Hohenadel's writing on design has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Fast Company, Vogue, Elle Decor, Lonny, and Apartment Therapy.

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