Inspired by typewriter artist Paul Smith, young English artist James Cook creates highly detailed artworks using manual typewriters. Cook began drawing with typewriters in 2014 and now receives commissions for his works from all over the world. Drawing with typewriters requires a lot of patience, as the most complex piece can take him up to 30 hours to finish. Because of Cook’s love for architecture, the subjects of his typewriter art are mostly buildings and structures. He, however, also makes realistic portraits of people and animals, as well as still-life objects. Take a look at 30 of Cook’s best works in the slideshow below:
#1 St. Laurence Church
The first photo was taken by Cook himself on a freezing cold Sunday afternoon in December 2019 while drawing St. Laurence Church on location with a typewriter. This artwork was part of his short film featuring various historic buildings and towns in the English county of Essex where he lives. Formerly a priory, St. Laurence Church is an Anglican church known for its wooden bell tower.
#2 Couple celebrating
Drawn in two separate sheets of A4 paper, this typewriter art shows an image of a couple happily celebrating with what appears to be some glasses of champagne. The artwork was created using two typewriters: 1965 Smith Corona and 1953 Oliver Courier. The latter was the first-ever typewriter that Cook purchased six years ago.
#3 Norwich Cathedral
This typewriter art of Norwich Cathedral in Norfolk, United Kingdom is simply incredible. Even though the size of the drawing is just a little less than an A4 sheet of paper, the artwork managed to capture the sky-scraping height of the structure’s tower. Completed back in 1145, the Norman-Gothic estate is one of the Norwich 12 heritage sites.
#4 Ludwig van Beethoven
Drawn using Cook’s turquoise 1970s Smith Corona typewriter, this portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven is based on an 1820 illustration of the German composer and pianist made by Joseph Karl Stieler. While this typewriter art looks like a black and white photocopy of Stieler’s painting from afar, a closer look at it reveals that majority of Beethoven’s face is drawn with several “at sign” punctuation marks.
#5 Vienna City skyline
Drawn using a 1976 Silver Reed 200 typewriter, this artwork shows a view of the Vienna City skyline, including the grand Vienna City Hall. Constructed from 1872 to 1883, the eight-story structure has a richly adorned façade modelled on the Gothic architecture of Flemish and Brabant secular buildings like the Brussels Town Hall. Cook is selling prints of this typewriter art for £24 ($30), including postage.
Created for a client, this artwork features an image of an adorable puppy named Florence. Though this illustration was solely created with a typewriter, Cook amazingly managed to replicate the dog’s expressive eyes, as well as its soft and smooth fur.
#7 St. Paul’s Cathedral
Though St. Paul’s Cathedral has been the subject of several artworks, we wouldn’t be surprised if this was the first time it was drawn using a typewriter. Designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren, the Anglican cathedral in London is the second-largest church building in area in the United Kingdom after Liverpool Cathedral.
#8 Tom Hanks
Shortly after discovering that Tom Hanks collects vintage typewriters, Cook felt that it was imperative for him to create a typewriter portrait of the two-time Oscar-winning actor. Though it’s not clear whether or not Hanks has already seen this incredible artwork, we’re pretty sure that he’d love it.
#9 Dromoland Castle
Drawn using a 1965 Olivetti Lettera 32 typewriter, this insanely elaborate artwork features the majestic front view of the Dromoland Castle, including its well-kept garden and a lovely fountain. Completed in 1835, the current structure of the gothic revival-style building now operates as a five-star luxury hotel with a golf course and a restaurant.
Drawn using a Silver Reed 200 typewriter, this illustration features the lightvessel owned by the Fellowship Afloat Charitable Trust, docked at the Tollesbury Marina. To match the red hull and red lantern tower of the lightship, Cook used the red ink on the typewriter ribbon for some parts of the artwork.
This commissioned art piece shows a portrait of a salt and pepper miniature schnauzer named Pepper. The dog’s wiry fur all over its body was replicated so amazingly that the final product doesn’t even look like a typewriter art.
#12 The Houses of Parliament
This typewriter art features a drawing of the Houses of Parliament from Westminster Bridge. Also called the Palace of Westminster, the Houses of Parliament lies on the north bank of the River Thames in Central London. Using his 1953 Oliver Courier typewriter, Cook finished the sophisticated drawing in roughly 12 hours in the span of three days. Though the original drawing had already been sold, Cook commented on Instagram that he’d be happy to produce a new one for $250.
#13 James May
Cook is probably a huge fan of James May, as the artist devoted a lot of his precious time creating a typewriter portrait of the popular British TV presenter. Though best known as a co-presenter of motoring shows Top Gear and The Grand Tour, May actually started his career in the automotive entertainment as an article contributor for different publications such as Car Magazine, Top Gear magazine, and The Daily Telegraph. May recently saw the artwork on Twitter and praised Cook for a “nice work.”
#14 John Webb’s Mill
This typewriter art of John Webb’s Mill in Thaxted, Essex was drawn by Cook on location in December 2019 using a 1971 Adler Tippa typewriter. Also called as Lowe’s Mill, the five-story corn mill was built in 1804 for local farmer and landowner John Webb. The mill was last worked commercially in 1910.
#15 Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts
Since Cook is a Whovian, it wasn’t surprising to find out that he had created a typewriter portrait of Pearl Mackie. Mackie had seen the artwork on Instagram and even reposted it. The actress appeared in season 10 of Doctor Who as Bill Potts, the final companion of the Twelfth Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi.
#16 Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald
Another Doctor Who fan art, this typewriter drawing features a realistic portrait of Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald. Clara served as a companion for both the eleventh (Math Smith) and twelfth (Peter Capaldi) incarnations of the Doctor, making her the current longest-serving companion of the titular character since the show’s revival in 2005.
#17 Cabot Tower
This typewriter art features a quaint image of Cabot Tower located in St. Johns, Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada. Constructed in 1898 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland, and Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, the tower is an example of a late Gothic Revival-style structure.
#18 Thaxted Guildhall
Drawn using a large format Olympia SG3 typewriter, this artwork is a diptych that features an illustration of Thaxted Guildhall, a municipal building in Thaxted, Essex. Featuring a jettied timber framing style, the structure was at the center of the local cutlery trade in the late 14th century.
#19 Friedrich Nietzsche
Featuring an amazing portrait of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, this typewriter art was drawn by Cook using his 1960s turquoise Smith Corona typewriter that he received as a gift in January 2020. Cook finished the artwork in eight hours.
#20 Notre-Dame de Paris
Posted by Cook on Instagram almost a month after the Notre-Dame de Paris caught fire in April 2019, this typewriter art of the Catholic cathedral honors the 13th-century structure that is considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. The church is currently being rebuilt exactly as it appeared before the fire. The reconstruction is expected to be completed by Spring 2024, in time for the opening of the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
Created using a 1972 Silver Reed 200 typewriter, this portrait is a commissioned art piece for a grandmother. Placed in a simple yet classy picture frame, this typewriter art is a sketch of the grandmother’s adorable granddaughter.
#22 Double-decker bus
Featuring an illustration of a retro double-decker bus drawn using an antique typewriter, this artwork screams vintage. Created with both black and red inks on the typewriter ribbon, this drawing shows an image of RT1, the first London Routemaster bus.
#23 Bank Station
Drawn using Cook’s 1950s Oliver Courier typewriter, this highly intricate artwork shows a view of the Bank Station in London during rush hour. It features a bunch of pedestrians crossing and a couple of red-colored double-decker buses on the road. The backdrop, meanwhile, is composed of towering buildings, a cathedral, and the Bank of England, whose neoclassical façade is on full display.
#24 Steam Tug Brent
Looking like an illustration from an old encyclopedia, this typewriter art features a steam tug named Brent. A classic small Lighterage steam tug, Brent is the last surviving steam vessel of the Port of London Authority’s fleet and one of only three steam vessels left of many that were once in use on the River Thames and in the London Docks’ system. Highlighting Cook’s incredible talent in typewriter drawing is the artwork’s image of “Brent,” which the artist had unbelievably formed even though he could only fill in with black ink.
#25 Royal Albert Hall
This insanely elaborate typewriter art features a portion of the majestic Royal Albert Hall in South Kensington, London. First opened in 1871, the concert hall with an Italianate style of architecture has a seating capacity of 5,272.
#26 Layer Marney Tower
This typewriter art of the Layer Marney Tower is breathtaking. While we’re not sure how many hours it took for Cook to finish the illustration, the highly elaborate details of the artwork suggest that he probably had a couple of on-site drawing sessions to complete the job. Dating from 1520, the Layer Marney Tower is a Tudor palace located in Essex.
#27 Rayne railway station
Typed on a 1971 Silver Reed 200 typewriter, this drawing of the Rayne railway station in Essex is giving off some serious old-fashioned vibes. Closed for regular passenger traffic and freight in 1952 and 1964, respectively, the station now serves as the headquarters for the Essex Ranger Service and the visitor center for the Flitch Way.
#28 Taplow Court
While not as complex as Cook’s other typewriter drawings of architectural structure, this commissioned art piece of Taplow Court is as precise and as accurate as the rest. Created using an orange 1970s Silver Reed 200 typewriter that Cook found on Facebook Marketplace in January 2020, this image of the Victorian house in Buckinghamshire, England is the perfect wall décor for retro fans.
#29 British medieval structure
This typewriter illustration of a medieval structure in the U.K. is filled with fantastic details. Though the artwork is only composed of letters, numbers, and punctuation marks, it amazingly replicates the building’s arched windows and columns, towering pyramidal spire, and even the dark shadows created by the sun.
#30 Finchingfield, Essex
This typewriter art features a neighborhood in the rural village of Finchingfield, Essex. Drawn in a quaint and old-fashioned style, this lovely artwork deserves to be on a postcard.