Everyone has heard of a typewriter that types, but how about one that paints? For West Collection’s Annual Artist Competition, Tyree Callahan modified a 1937 Underwood Standard Typewriter that can do just that.
“The idea for the Chromatic Typewriter came about one day in the studio as I was struggling along with a watercolor. I had an old Olivetti typewriter laying around and I thought to add some text to the watercolor. I rolled the watercolor into the carriage and started typing and that’s when the inspiration struck.”
Although he was intrigued by the concept, Callahan didn’t believe he could actually make one that worked. Still, curiosity got the better of him, and he decided to give it a shot. His friend found an old typewriter in an antique store near his studio, and he worked on it over the month of November.
“It took about three and a half weeks to clean it up and put it all together. I had the toughest time cleaning it up: it must’ve had four decades of nicotine tar on it! I pictured some sort of Hunter S. Thomson/Edward R Murrow type hunched over it, chain-smoking and struggling with a story.
“Once the tar was cleaned off and the machine was shined up a bit I did a mock-up with some cut-out colors and stuck another painting in the carriage and knew the end result was going to be pretty special.”
Dubbed the Chromatic Typewriter, each key holds a different tone of paint which can be transferred onto paper. It’s not entirely a practical invention, as the paint has to be reloaded manually, but an interesting experiment nonetheless!
“As it stands, the keys have to be manually reloaded with paint. I have but one short paragraph typed with the machine. Were there a more practical way to re-apply paint to the keys, it would make some very interesting and fantastic art.”
We completely agree!
Like this project? You can check out more of Callahan’s work on his website.