Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Typewriter artist ‘blown away’ after Tom Hanks signs artwork

James Cook with one of his typewriters and the signed Tom Hanks artwork (James Cook/PA)
James Cook with one of his typewriters and the signed Tom Hanks artwork (James Cook/PA)

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

James Cook, 25, from Braintree, Essex, creates “typicitions”, or typed-depictions, using a random assortment of letters, numbers and punctuation marks to form an image using a typewriter.

Mr Cook sent a portrait to the Oscar-winning actor, who is a fellow typewriter enthusiast, but admitted he “forgot about it” until he received an unexpected letter in the post.

Tom Hanks signed the artwork with a handwritten message that read: "To James Cook. This is super! Tom Hanks".
Tom Hanks signed the artwork with a handwritten message that read ‘To James Cook. This is super! Tom Hanks’ (James Cook/PA)

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

“Tom Hanks had previously been a guest on the show and I said ‘you know he collects typewriters’ and they said they would have rescheduled his interview with mine if they had known.

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

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

The message handwritten by Hanks, who reportedly owns more than 120 typewriters, read: “To James Cook. This is super! Tom Hanks.”

James Cook creates artwork using his collection of close to 40 typewriters.
James Cook creates artwork using his collection of close to 40 typewriters (James Cook/PA)

Mr Cook said he was inspired to first attempt typewriting art after he discovered the work of American artist Paul Smith while he was researching for his art A-level.

Despite producing art since 2014, his first work consisted predominantly of celebrity portraits and drawings of the cast of the BBC series Doctor Who, and it was not until January 2020 that he began to get noticed.

The architecture graduate has since gained more than 20,000 followers on Instagram and has produced 200 pictures of celebrities, landscapes and musicians.

Mr Cook now creates his unusual artworks as a full-time job at his studio in Trinity Buoy Wharf, east London, where people can visit to see his work and view his collection of close to 40 typewriters.

“I’ve only ever had to buy four typewriters and the rest, I think I now have close to 40, have been given to me by people who have heard about my work,” Mr Cook said.

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

“She told me she estimated that she’d written somewhere between 17,000 to 20,000 letters and when she retired she decided to take her typewriter as a leaving present.

“She saw my work and got in contact with me to give me her typewriter and I did a portrait for her of the Queen.”

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

On average, one A4 work of art can take Mr Cook up to five days to complete and the larger pieces are formed of smaller strips of paper pieced together.

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

“What’s really nice about this job is that it’s not just the work that’s interesting, but also the backstories behind the people that have a connection to typewriters,” Mr Cook said.

“The slogan I use for my work is ‘a picture worth a thousand words’ because each drawing not only is a random assortment of letters, numbers and punctuation marks puzzle-pieced together, but I will also hide messages for the viewer to find when looking at the drawing up close.”

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