Paul Smith, the man with extraordinary talent was born in Philadelphia on September 21, 1921 with severe cerebral palsy. Not only had Paul beaten the odds of a life with spastic cerebral palsy, a disability that impeded his speech & mobility but also taught himself to become a master artist as well as a terrific chess player even after being devoid of a formal education as a child.
When typing, Paul used his left hand to steady his right one. Since he couldn’t press two keys at the same time, he almost always locked the shift key down and made his pictures using the symbols at the top of the number keys. In other words, his pictures were based on these characters …. @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ .
Across seven decades, Paul created hundreds of pictures. He often gave the originals away. Sometimes, but not always, he kept or received a copy for his own records.
As his mastery of the typewriter grew, he developed techniques to create shadings, colors, and textures that made his work resemble pencil or charcoal drawings.”
This great man passed away on June 25, 2007, but left behind a collection of his amazing artwork that will be an inspiration for many.
The story appearing online in various versions comes with many amazing pictures that are claimed to be drawn using a Typewriter – by Paul Smith, an artist suffering with severe Cerebral Palsy. Yes, although it sounds unbelievable, the claim is a fact.
About Paul Smith
Paul Smith was an American typewriter artist, born in Philadelphia on 21 September 1921. Unfortunately, from an early age, he suffered from severe Spastic cerebral palsy. Because of this loss of fine motor control of his face and hands, not only he couldn’t attend school, he could not even eat, dress, or bathe himself, and it also made it difficult to express himself. Nevertheless, Paul Smith overcame his disability and lived a happy and productive life, inspiring many others with his amazing typewriter art.
His Amazing Typewriting Art
Despite his disability, from the age of 15, Paul Smith went on to discover a whole new art form using only paper, eraser and a manual typewriter – by typing and creating wonderful pictures. Note that this is not the regular old ASCII art. Even though his cerebral palsy did not allow him use both his hands to type freely, he used to use his left hand to steady the right one and then press the desired key. And since he could not press two keys at the same time, he used to lock the shift key down most of the time and then made his pictures – using only the handful of symbols @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ on top of the number keys. This way, he steadily refined his typewriter drawing art, also developing techniques to create shadings, colors and textures, which made his art work look like pencil or charcoal drawings. He also grew up as a terrific chess player.
It should be noted that every stroke of this type of artwork needs good planning well in advance, the white spaces have to be left blank and the outlines have to be consistent to draw an entire picture meticulously, for which Paul Smith is indeed a Genius – considering his disability. The last few pictures in the Image Gallery show the typewriter artist Paul Smith, the last one being his self portrait.
In the 1940s, when Paul was a young adult, his family moved to Hollywood, Florida. Then from 1967 until his death on 25 June 2007 at the age of 85, Paul lived at Rose Haven nursing center in Roseburg, Oregon, USA. As he became old, Paul’s cataracts worsened, and he stopped creating pictures in 2004. Through his seven decades, Paul Smith created hundreds of such beautiful pictures.
Interestingly, Paul did not publish any of his art works, and he often gave away his original works, but his work has been collected into several books of art, and there are also many videos showcasing his exceptional talent. There was a website called ‘The Paul Smith Foundation‘ that contained his biography and many of his typewriter drawings. Shown in the video above is an old news report of this amazing typewriter artist – Paul Smith.
Hoax or Fact: