Paul Smith suffered from severe spastic cerebral palsy from a very young age. The loss of fine motor control of his hands made impossible for him to perform the most basics of tasks, like eating, bathing or clothing himself, but through sheer willpower he managed to become one of the most acclaimed typewriter artists in history.
Born in September1921, in Philadelphia, Paul Smith was diagnosed with severe spastic cerebral palsy as a child, but although this terrible condition made it impossible for him to express himself or attend school like any other child, it didn’t stop him from having a remarkable life. At age 15, Paul started working with the typewriter to create art, and slowly refined his technique until he was able to create real masterpieces. He would use his left hand to steady the right, so because he couldn’t type with both hands the artist would lock the “Shift” key and create most of his works with the characters “@ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _”. He spent 2-3 hours a day typing away on his typewriter while listening to Classical music, and each of his artworks would take him anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months. Over 70 years of artistic activity, Paul Lung created hundreds of beautiful typewriter art pieces, most of which he simply gave away.
Battling cerebral palsy, it took Paul 32 years to learn how to walk, and half that to learn how to speak, but he somehow found the willpower to also improve his typewriter art to such a degree that he was able to create shadings and textures that resembled charcoal and pencil drawings. Unfortunately, as he aged, Paul Smith’s cataracts worsened and prevented him from exercising his artistic skill at the fullest of his abilities, and he stopped making typewriter art in 2004. He died on June 24, 2007, at the Rose Haven Nursing Center in Roseburg, Oregon, but left behind an impressive portfolio of typewriter art, and most importantly the inspiration that you can overcome anything in life, if you put your mind to it.
If you find typewriter art fascinating, you might want to check out Keira Rathbone’s work as well.