Paul Smith the Inspirational Typewriter Artist

Paul Smith the Inspirational Typewriter Artist

By Jamie Matthewman
September 17th, 2014

The video at the bottom of the page, features the late Paul Smith, an inspiring man who died on June 25th 2007 leaving a legacy of great work that will continue to inspire generations to come.

Paul was a remarkable man who suffered from severe cerebral palsy from a very young age. Due to the loss of fine motor control in his hands, tasks we take for granted such as eating, bathing or clothing were impossible for Paul to perform. However this didn’t stop Paul from passionately enjoying his life and doing what he loved.

Through sheer willpower and endless determination, as you can see in the video and the images, Paul became one of the most acclaimed typewriter artists in history. Despite his own physical limitations and the narrow scope of his chosen medium, Paul was able to create amazing artwork, both original pieces and copies of famous works.


Paul was born in September 1921, in Philadelphia and diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy as a child. His doctors didn’t believe he’d live very long but he beat those odds, living to the ripe old age of 85. Just one of many times where Paul would beat the odds, including learning to speak after 16 years and walk after 32 at a time when rehabilitation and progressive care were very limited.

At age 15, Paul started working with the typewriter, with patience and determination he slowly refined his technique until he was able to create real masterpieces. He used his left hand to steady the right, because he couldn’t type with both hands, and locked the “Shift” key to create most of his works with the characters “@ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _”.

paul smith the last supper

Paul’s art required pre-planning, roller adjustments, ribbon changes, and shading techniques. He pressed his thumb against the ribbon to create the shading on the paper. With the advent of colour ribbons Paul was able to incorporate a new dimension to his work.

paul smith haywain

He spent 2-3 hours a day on his typewriter while listening to Classical music. Each piece would take him anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months. Many of Paul’s creations featured a symbol of hope, including light house beams, sun streams, and heaven-sent guidance.

paul smith lighthouse

During his 37 year of artistic creativity, Paul created hundreds of beautiful pieces, most of which he simply gave away. His body of work symbolises what’s possible when a person chooses to put their mind to something that many would have said was impossible to achieve. We have no excuses, thank you Paul for showing us the way.

Jamie Matthewman

About Jamie Matthewman

Jamie is the founder, main contributor and editor of The Inspired Man.

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