London-based artist James Cook has roughly 70 typewriters. These typewriters — most of which are gifted to Cook — include an Arabic script typewriter used by a BBC reporter in the ‘60s, as well as one used in Buckingham Palace.  These unique gifts are perhaps a perk of being one of the most prominent typewriter artists working today. 


“When people give me their typewriters, it’s great because each one of them has a backstory,” Cook said. “It’s like being given a piece of history.”

27-year-old Cook has created more than 300 pieces using letters, numbers, and punctuation marks found on a typewriter. Each piece depicts famous cityscapes, skylines, and public figures, and can take anywhere from several days to several months to complete. 


“People often ask about how I manage to sit there for so long and do each piece, but for me it’s very therapeutic,” Cook said. “I always think of my childhood memories, and working on these pieces is sort of like putting Legos together. 


Cook has created art for a variety of prominent figures and corporations and boasts more than 300,000 Instagram followers. Cook ​​made headlines in 2022 when he sent a drawing of fellow typewriter enthusiast Tom Hanks to Hanks himself, only to have the actor sign the print and send it back to Cook. He also made an appearance on the Kelly Clarkson show during 2020. 


“It was me, Rainn Wilson from the office, and Billy Ray Cyrus on the show that day,” Cook said. “I remember being on the Zoom call from my bedroom thinking, ‘this is so surreal.’”


One might see all this success and think that Cook has had a lifelong affinity for typewriters, but falling into the typewriter art lineage was unintentional. 


“It was a school project to begin with,” Cook said, a smile on his face remembering the origins of what now has become his life’s work. “We were given this task to look at artists who had somehow used technology to create work. I originally wanted to use a fax machine, but couldn’t find one, and happened upon a typewriter.” 

This success was not achieved overnight — Cook has been posting and sharing his work online since 2014. In fact, typewriter art was a part-time gig for Cook until the COVID-19 pandemic. It was during that time of global isolation that Cook decided to take a leap of faith into something unknown. Now, as a full-time working artist, Cook says the only thing that has changed about his process is the volume. He even employs his father to help out with packaging and shipping. 


“It started as a hobby and I was just doing it because it brought me joy, so I try to keep some of that authenticity in my process,” Cook said.

Cook has also taught classes and workshops for those interested in typewriter art, and fondly recalls the experience of watching others enter the same flow state he does while working with the typewriters.


“I’ve had six to seven people sit around a table with some of the typewriters, and everybody goes completely quiet once they start working,” Cook said. “Suddenly you have this collection of typewriters clacking away and it’s like the people working can’t hear the typewriters. They can’t hear the noises. They’re just so focused on what they’re doing.”

When asked what drives him to keep making art, Cook laughs and ponders on the difficulty of that question. While it would be easier to just say he has always loved typewriters and always knew he was going to be an artist, he looks into the camera and sighs.


“Do you know what? I suppose the honest answer is that I don’t second-guess or question why I’m doing it,” Cook said. “Sure, I do purposeful things everyday to ensure the success of the business. But for the most part, I just unknowingly plow on.”


Cook’s work is available for purchase through his website, with prints of limited collections available now.