Who said typewriters are obsolete? These amazing works of art – painstakingly created using the clunky keys of a typewriter – proves there is plenty of artistic flair left in the old-fashioned word processors. These pictures are featured in new book “Typewriter Art: A Modern Anthology” by Laurence King Publishing.
Metro catches up with Barrie to learn how he creates his artwork.
Metro: What’s the appeal of typewriter art?
Tullett: It’s that there is such a huge range of work produced on machines designed to do one thing. But the ways people have bent this to their will is simply astounding. You have poets, writers, artists, designers and hobbyists all manipulating, subverting, re-inventing and celebrating the potential of a mechanism invented – and essentially unchanged – for 150 years or so.
What do you need to be good at this artform?
Patience. Perhaps even more so now our world is suffused with digital processes that are not only immediate, but that offer an endless number of opportunities to ‘undo’ if one makes a mistake. But there is a wonderful alchemy that happens when you strike the key on the typewriter and see the impression of the ink on the paper. Nothing ‘virtual’ can re-create that.
It must be frustrating – after all, typewriters are cumbersome, fiddly things.
I compare them to what a friend of mine says about his vintage car: despite the bad clutch, heavy brakes and the sheer physical effort to manoeuvre the car, he says it feels more like ‘driving’ than being in a modern car does. Perhaps the same is true for the typewriter – you have to enjoy the process, however cumbersome it may be.
Typewriters are no longer everyday items so how does an artist find the gear?
There are still a lot of typewriters in junk shops and antique shops. Of course, eBay is awash with them. The problem is that their prices are going up and up. Many machines are sold as ‘good lookers’ rather than ‘good workers’, so you need to check that all the keys work, with no sticking.