Phot-O-Type: Fun with Typewriters and Film

Ever since being a kid I loved flea markets and antique stores.

Film strip on a piece of paper waiting to be typed upon.

Film strip on a piece of paper waiting to be typed upon.

I love old stuff. First, it was mainly old books. Later on I fell in love with old tools and machinery, particularly cameras, as you should know if you have been to this blog before.

However, I also own and love a 1936 Wanderer Continental typewriter that I got almost ten years ago. (It’s the one in the banner of this website.) The thing about the stuff I hoard is that I also want to use it. Otherwise it would only be old junk. I have used my typewriter extensively for creating faux historic documents for the German Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game publisher. I also used it for, err, “artistic” purposes, that is in connection with film photography. I have been meaning to write a little how-to about this for ages but never really got around to do so. Recently I discovered that there’s a whole movement of people out there who geek out about typewriters, the Typosphere. That finally made me write that article about what I call “Phot-O-Types” (*g*) and how to create them.

And what a better way would there be than in a typecast? (A typecast is a blog post that has been typed on a typewriter and then scanned as an image. Yes, you might say that typecasters have not really understood how the internet works but I have to say that it *is* good fun!)

It all started in 2004 when a friend of mine, Volker Schütz, had an exhibition called Love & Make-up in which he showed photos that he had “damaged” on purpose. That is, he painted on and scratched film negative strips and sometimes even used lipstick or other cosmetic products on them. The results were fantastic and although the exhibition is long past you can still find the images online.

When we were chatting about the techniques he used I had only recently got my typewriter and so I asked whether he had ever tried typing on a negative? He said no but was intrigued, so he gave me a few film strips and off I went. The results convinced me that I was on to something cool. In fact, other people believed so as well.
But now, without further ado, here is how you do it:

And here is how it can look like


Nacht (Night)



Geist – Ghost

What use is a perfect picture anyway?


3 thoughts on “Phot-O-Type: Fun with Typewriters and Film

  1. Hello Carsten, I like your phot-o-types and might be interested in including them in a book I’m writing about typewriters in the 21st century. Could you send me an e-mail at polt at Thanks.

  2. Pingback: Phot-O-Types appearing in The Typewriter Revolution | A Kraftwerk Orange

  3. Pingback: Schreiben – Ein Bestandsaufnahme: Rückblick | A Kraftwerk Orange

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s