Rochester man recreates famous portraits using only a typewriter

Digital Exclusives

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — There are numerous ways to spend any extra time you might have during your time at home. Exercising using kitchenware, daily music livestreams, or just spending time with the kids.

Local artist Eric Wilder is recreating famous portraits using only a typewriter.

“I like to do a lot of art work that’s very tactile and hands-on,” he said. “I just want something around Christmas time, and I thought about just writing letters to people. It would be fun thing to do.”

“I just wanted to make memes with it,” he said. “One thing led to another, and I started making pictures with it.”

He lived in North Carolina for ten years. There, he worked in advertising. When he and wife moved back north to Rochester, they had two kids.

So he needed to find something to do at home.

“I decided to stay home and watch the kids,” Wilder said.

After building a lot of his schedule around his kids, he took a creative writing class at Writers and Books. When the workload started coming back, working for writers felt like the perfect fit.

He started as book cover artist. He’s done covers for mostly self-published writer, but has done covers for many university book presses, including RIT. It was this working from home flow — not to mention having the kids at home — that set him up perfectly for this adventure in type.

“I was trying to impress my son,” he said, referencing a creation of the video game icon Mario. But then:

“What if took something that wasn’t mapped out in 8-bit block, but tried to map out the Mona Lisa?”

“If I’m making a picture, I try to start at the center of the image,” he said. “It if it’s something that’s pre-mapped out, I’ll just type up a huge blob and move the page up and down, and just see where it goes.”

He says these started out as little brain exercises, sometimes planning, and sometimes they’re mapped out. Sometimes finding the right formula will yield the best image. He had one draft of his own Mona Lisa that he described as a “blob,” but he eventually found the right formula.

“You have to use different letters to make the shape work,” he said. Wilder also says that combining different letters makes a difference in how dark a section is. “Sometimes you got to slam the key down, or give it a nice gentle touch, just for a little shading.”

“It started out as something for fun, but because so many people have asked to provide prints,” he said. “I have no plans for an Etsy shop or anything like that, but I’d like to keep them original.”

He starting to do more in triplicate paper, so if it ever comes to the point when he sells these, people can buy something he actually typed, instead of something that was just scanned and printed. Maybe even with a stamp and a letter.

“I think that’s part of the charm, to get letters,” he said. “Especially now, since we can’t see people, to have something tactile thing that somebody made and sent to you personally.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss