Typewriter artist ‘blown away’ after Tom Hanks signs artwork

An artist who used a typewriter to create a portrait of Tom Hanks said he was “blown away” when the artwork was signed by the actor.

Ames Cook, 25, of Braintree, Essex, creates “typicitions,” or typed representations, using a random selection of letters, numbers and punctuation marks to create an image with a typewriter.

Mr Cook sent a portrait to the Oscar winner, who is another typewriter enthusiast, but admitted he “forgot” until he received an unexpected letter in the post.


Tom Hanks autographed the artwork with a handwritten message that read, “To James Cook. That’s great! Tom Hank”. (James Cook/PA)

“I appeared on a US show called The Kelly Clarkson Show in November 2020 and was asked to do a portrait and they had to guess who the celebrity was,” Mr Cook told the PA news agency.

“Tom Hanks was a previous guest on the show and I said, ‘You know he collects typewriters,’ and they said they would have rescheduled his interview with me if they knew.

“I thought I’d give it a try and sent him the print of his portrait with a typed letter explaining my profession, but after that I completely forgot.

“I was blown away when I got my print back with his autograph and a quick message.”

The handwritten message from Hanks, who reportedly owns more than 120 typewriters, read: “To James Cook. That’s great! Tom Hanks.”


James Cook creates works of art with his collection of nearly 40 typewriters. (James Cook/PA)

Mr Cook said he was inspired to try his hand at typewriting for the first time after discovering the work of American artist Paul Smith while researching for his arts degree.

Although he has been producing art since 2014, his first work consisted mostly of celebrity portraits and drawings of the cast of the BBC series Doctor Who, and he only came to prominence in January 2020.

The qualified architect has now gained more than 20,000 followers on Instagram and has produced 200 pictures of celebrities, landscapes and musicians.

Mr Cook now creates his unusual artwork as a full-time job at his studio in Trinity Buoy Wharf, east London, where visitors can view his work and collection of nearly 40 typewriters.

“I’ve only had to buy four typewriters so far and the rest, I think I’ve got almost 40 now, were gifted to me by people who’ve heard of my work,” said Mr. Cook.

“I was given a typewriter by a lady who used to work at Buckingham Palace and was a private employee of the Queen.

“She told me she estimated she had written between 17,000 and 20,000 letters, and when she retired she decided to take her typewriter with her as a parting gift.

“She saw my work and contacted me to give me her typewriter and I made a portrait of the Queen for her.”


Artist James Cook, 25, from Braintree, Essex, stood next to his portrait of the Queen. (James Cook/PA)

On average, Mr Cook can take up to five days to complete an A4 piece of art, and the larger pieces are made up of smaller strips of paper that are joined together.

Mr Cook’s next exhibition at The Moot Hall in Maldon, Essex, from 14 July to 17 August, will include the portrait of the Queen alongside the artwork signed by Hanks.

“The really nice thing about this job is that not only is the work interesting, but also the backstories behind the people who have a connection with typewriters,” said Mr. Cook.

“The slogan I use for my work is ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ because each drawing is not just a random collection of letters, numbers and punctuation marks put together as a puzzle, but I also hide messages, which the viewer can find when examine the drawing up close.”

To learn more about Mr. Cook’s artwork, visit www.instagram.com/jamescookartwork/

https://www.independent.ie/world-news/and-finally/typewriter-artist-blown-away-after-tom-hanks-signs-artwork-41605141.html Typewriter artist ‘blown away’ after Tom Hanks signs artwork

Fry Electronics Team

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