Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Seriously inspiring artwork—can you guess how it was made?

Take a good look at this art.

What comes to mind?

Perhaps that the artist has an excellent eye for detail, and is a master at shading and texture.

You might wonder about the medium.

I'll tell you what it is:  It's a typewriter.

Yep, this was all created on a manual typewriter.

I'll tell you something else about the artist: He had spastic four-quad cerebral palsy.

His name was Paul Smith, and I only recently discovered his story after a reader sent me an email about him; I was so fascinated, I spent the better part of a morning reading up on him and watching this video. Adults like this make my hopes for Max soar.  

Born in 1921 in Philadelphia, Smith had CP that affected his speech, mobility and use of his hands. Still, he created these images with a typewriter alone. Because he couldn't use both hands at the same time, he'd use one to hold down the other to press keys. Keeping the "shift" key locked, he'd create images largely based on the characters @ # $ % ^ ( ). In seven decades he made hundreds of pieces of typewriter art, some of which took months to create, capturing everything from landscapes to portraits. He died at 85, in a nursing home in Oregon.


As the mom to a kid with special needs, I know all about his special powers. Paul Smith is a good reminder to those who don't have people with disabilities in their lives to not underestimate their abilities, talent, or determination. Maybe they get stuff done in a different way, like Paul Smith or the artist Dan Keplinger, who has CP and who paints with a brush secured to a band around his forehead. But they get it done. They're talented. They're as worthy of our awe as any other person.

This is what I'd like you to think if you were to meet my Max.

Images/Paul Smith Foundation


  1. Wow! That is inspiring to see someone with special needs with that type of talent. Makes you have more hope for our kiddos-that nothing is impossible.

  2. This is so incredible! Thank you for sharing! Don't underestimate anyone with special needs, what a great message!

  3. They are amazing and what a talent! Thank you for sharing x

  4. Thank you so much for sharing! I actually work for an art program for adults who have disabilities called the Arc of the Arts (in Austin, TX). There are several other programs around the country- Creativity Explored in San Fran, Art Enables in DC just to have a few.

    We have a great blog that gives a glimpse into our studio!

    I am constantly blow away by the caliber of art that the Arc of the Arts Artists create!

    Thank you again for sharing!
    Genessee Klemm

  5. Holy cow that video was amazing! I am in awe of his talent and would be whether he had CP or not! Thank you for sharing this.

  6. I have actulley heard of Paul Smith as in the hallways at the rehab hospital where i go for my hearing aid there is really good artwork done by people with severe disablites.

  7. This is amazing artwork--such attention to detail! I love it. Thanks for sharing this!

  8. I remember reading about that guy, too! Very inspiring!

  9. So glad to see this post! Gracias!

  10. Pinned you again.

    Thank you for all you do.

  11. I could just cry knowing there this man did this and his art is beautiful. My Brooke does art as well and it gives me hope for her.


Thanks for sharing!

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