Late to the Dance: Megan Chapman\’s Typewriter Art

Megan Chapman at Art Maven

Having recently risen from a two year paper-grading-induced coma, I started poking around in my feedreader to see what I had missed. Quite a bit, it turns out.

Megan Chapman, one of my favorite Arkansas artists, created a series of paintings last year that floors me. It\’s a mixed media series using typed texts and vintage papers called Sometimes I Love You and other stories, and as luck would have it some of the pieces are for sale on Megan\’s Etsy site Art Maven.

Typing and aged papers and poetry – oh my! I adore everything about this series and am feverishly figuring out which piece needs to live at my house. Visit Megan at her blog as well – tell her Monda sent you and begs forever pardon for strolling in so late.  

List-Making as Art


Ding Ren has the perfect gig: Typing as performance art. She just held an exhibition yesterday, but will perform \”Observations with a Typewriter\” again on August 20th as part of two-month \”Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists’ Enumerations from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art.\” Here\’s a description of Ren\’s exhibition/performance:

\”Ren will sit at a desk in the gallery space generating lists with a typewriter. The content of the lists will be gathered through an on-the-spot observation of visitors in the gallery space that is akin to an ethnographer performing a field study. These observations may include, but are not limited to: what visitors are holding in their hands, untied shoelaces, bits of overheard conversations, and the color of visitors’ shirts. The observed content will be recorded through typewritten pages that will spill out onto the floor of the gallery for visitors to read. Like the lists already on display, the lists Ren creates in real-time are meant to highlight potential patterns and find meaning in the easily overlooked, near-nothings of everyday life. Past records kept by Ren include an observation of falling objects, red dots, stray pennies on the street, and other people’s reading material on public transportation.\” ~ The Pinkline Project

Part one in this series began February 5th, and it looks like the whole collection might be available through September. Fascinating business, actually. Take a look at Smithsonian\’s online exhibit HERE, or order the companion book, Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists, although I\’m sure neither will come close to that live performance. If anyone is handy to DC and can make that trip, be sure to let us know.

As a side note, that folded printer paper is for the birds. Clearly Ren hasn\’t yet experienced a fine BAROP.

In honor of all things Smithsonian and list-y, I\’m proposing we all typecast a list or two to celebrate the everydayness of common writing. Besides, it\’s an excuse to make lists I don\’t have to follow.

List on, typosphere!

Silent Type: A Retrotech Journal

Fresh Ribbon

If you listen very closely you can hear a collective oooh-aaah in the typosphere. Strikethru Publishing’s first volume of Silent Type: A Retrotech Journal made its way to the mailboxes this week and I’m beside myself with typewriter love. Forty-three pages of full-color photography and divine collage in addition to fiction, poetry, and essays – in full typewritten glory.

It’s a strong read and a stunning tribute to the retrotech in all of us. Strikethru, take a bow.

No, take two.

Volume I ran out as quickly as it was printed, although there’s talk of a second printing and a nudge here and there toward Volume II. If you can’t live another minute without having a copy in your hands, let Strikethru know. Tell her Monda sent you.

The Good, the Bad, and the Smelly

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Hmmm. It looks like Tallulah is droppin’ her ‘G’s again. It’s a common malady with some of these southern machines.

This paper, by the way, is vintage Eaton’s Muguet des Bois scented and engraved stationery. Well, at least it’s still engraved. The floral scent smells musty and cigar-like now, and I’m not sure I can get the des bois back in the muguet. Regardless, this stationery makes me want to have a terrible crush on some summer boyfriend from the lake just so I can write to him the day after he leaves.

Sigh. Time to Ebay.

Janis Joplin, Jorma Kaukonen, and the Typewriter Tapes


Yes, Virginia, there is more typewriter music. Here’s a little bluesy moment for you thunkety-thunk typewriter fans and those who just love Janis. Perhaps there are a few of you out there who are both. Like to download a few songs? Click here and put The Typewriter Tapes on your Ipod. I’ll bet Janis never dreamed such a thing was possible.

Good Lord. I think I just resurrected my DJ voice.

Someone Needs to take this On The Road

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(click to enlarge)

Yes, it’s a portion of the original On the Road scroll typed frantically by Jack Kerouac back in 1951. With a little pharmaceutical aid, he was able to slam the novel out in three weeks. The scroll, by the way, is on tour and probably lounging around Dublin right about now.

I won’t go on and on about Kerouac or On The Road. Most women I know (of a certain age) find the book fairly appalling and Kerouac even more so, but Kerouac is not the point here. The scroll is. It’s morphed into an art installation and by the miracle of technological wizardry, a very large typecast.

The thing is, I know a lot of people who can slam out a novel in a month. Maybe they aren’t all Kerouacs, but they do it and there’s a die-hard group of Luddites blowing the top off the NaNoWriMo word counts via manual typewriter every year. You know who you are.

While taking a little paper-grading break today, I hopped on Ebay and found the perfect ditty for a NaNoWriMo Typewriter Brigader. Or for a Kerouac wannabe, makes no difference. It’s a big roll of three-part carbon paper – that’s one original copy to keep and two canary copies to send ’round to the art installations in Dublin.

Eighteen days left on that auction, and a chance to make a legend. Who’s up for it?

Recession-Fabulous Free Typewriter Fonts

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I’ve got quite a few (fairly) harmless addictions. Collecting old manual typewriters, for example, will not land me a stint in some lock-down rehab. I don’t think. I guess dropping a Hermes 3000 on my foot might buy a little time in the ER, although I’m sure I’d be more worried about the typewriter than the foot. At any rate, it’s a harmless addiction as long as I don’t need government bailout money to keep me in fresh ribbon.

One of my other addictions is collecting computer fonts. It’s true. I have thousands and can justify every last one because I’m the faculty adviser for an undergrad literary magazine. The magazine requires layout and layout requires nifty fonts now and then. I might as well share a few fabulous free font sites, because at this point it’s starting to feel like hoarding.

You know, like those people who turn their houses into a maze of newspaper stacks and olive jars. If you opened up my hard drive, I’m afraid that’s what it would look like.

Urban Fonts has a nice collection of the usual typewriter font suspects, as well as some of the more down-and-dirty broken fonts. Some of the classics are Adler, Love Letter, Metalic Avacodo (that’s the spelling), Royal Pain, Traveling Typewriter (cleaner than the others), and Uncle Typewriter. There’s a nice one called My Old Remington that’s a good blend of the clean and dirty – much like typing with a fresh ribbon on a machine that hasn’t been cleaned in, say, sixty years.

Font Parade is a great site for some of the standards Urban Fonts carries, with a few more. Take a look at Dislexi, Fox Script, Hammer Keys (a favorite right now), Junko’s Typewriter, Maszyna, and Type-Ra. Those of you who have special love for that blocky, sci-fi look some Hermes 3000s have can download Typewriter a6o2. Not my thing, really, but it might be yours.

One of my favorite font sites right now is Misprinted Type. Some of these are typewriter fonts and some are just plain art, but you simply must stop by and take a look at the free offerings as well as the buy-only fonts. The picture above is Dirty Ego, but you should also check out Astonished, Print Error, and Horse Puke. That’s right, Horse Puke.

Just because you may or may not have a functioning manual typewriter is no reason not to have typewriter font-love. God knows you miss out on the overall aesthetic clank and zing delight of the old beauties, but you can be forgiven. The real thing can be pricey. During WWII my grandmother painted eyebrow pencil lines down the backs of her legs to mimic stockings. It’s the same principle.

By the time this recession is over, I figure jewelry maker key choppers will have “recycled” too many old typewriters. Collecting whole machines will be iffy at best. It’s good to have the fonts as a backup should – God forbid – we have to typecast in eyebrow pencil.