The UK artist James Cook using vintage typewriters to create modern art
Tom Triebel in London

A picture is worth a thousand words... And 26-year-old artist James Cook has taken that old adage to a whole new level. He traded his paint brush for vintage typewriters to create unique pieces of artwork with letters and symbols.

The London-based artist has created over 250 pieces of artwork - but it's a labor of love. The smallest piece takes about a week to complete, while bigger pieces can take several months.

In an interview with CGTN Europe he explained, "It can sometimes be as simple as using the bracket symbols to type the pupils of someone's eye. If I'm doing skin shading or skin tones, I'll use the @ symbol."


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James likes to think that his form of typing is like playing a musical instrument:

"You kind of develop muscle memory," he continued. "It's like someone playing the piano: They become quite familiar with the weighting of the piano keys. And that is quite similar to a typewriter, the placement of the switches, the levers, the movement of the carriage,the weighting of the keys, they're all really critical in making very, incredibly precise drawings.”

Cook makes unique pieces and also recreates
Cook makes unique pieces and also recreates

Cook makes unique pieces and also recreates

Out of his impressive collection of 63 typewriters, James confides he only had to buy three of them as people regularly come to his exhibitions to donate an old typewriter.

"They'll say 'we've had this machine in our family for many years, it's only sitting around collecting dust, we might as well give it to you for it to have a second lease of life'."

James admits that he sometimes likes to conceal messages in his artwork, mostly about current affairs as it allows him to date the piece.

For his next venture, he wants to find a Chinese typewriter as they look and feel very different to Western ones.

"If anyone sees this and has a machine that they would like to generously donate, then I'd be more than happy to take one on board and make some typewriter art with Chinese text."

For now, he has his hands full typing a tribute to the famous London landmark Big Ben.


If you have a typewriter you would like to donate to James Cook please get in touch with the CGTN Europe via our social media accounts on facebook, instagram or twitter


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