North Texas Daily

David Lawson brings gift of words to the Square

David Lawson brings gift of words to the Square

October 29
01:30 2015

Anjulie Van Sickle | Staff Writer


Click clack, click clack, shhhink ding sounds the bubblegum pink typewriter.

The corner of West Hickory and North Locust Streets has a new occupant. As people go about their Saturday—running errands, having picnics, walking their dog – David Lawson is perched on his stool, like every other Saturday morning, typing out words of encouragement for passersby.

Lawson learned the art of self-expression after attending a Burning Man festival this past summer and was inspired by the idea of gifting. He wanted to bring it back to Denton.


Lawson laughs as he takes a break from his pink typewriter. Haley Yates | Staff Photographer

“This is my art project,” Lawson said. “It’s the free gift of words.”

This art project isn’t Lawson’s only job—it’s his way of having fun. He’s lived in Argyle for the past seven years and works as a licensed, professional counselor during the week. Originally from Dallas, Lawson moved to Denton County seven years ago to pursue a graduate degree in counseling from UNT. Now he works at an animal sanctuary, Ranch Hand Rescue, as an equine assistant. He works with the animals to be partners for people.

“Sometimes I feel like a little squirrel out here, like I don’t know what I’m doing,” Lawson said. “But then other times people will come up and I’m reminded of why I’m here—it’s to spread joy and love.”

Lawson typically sticks to certain themes when writing for people. He uses unconditional love, joy, freedom, happiness, hope, family and friendship as common themes.

However, he does occasionally take requests.

Lawson’s setup underneath his stand includes cards to type on, a speaker that blasts music, and his coffee. Haley Yates |Staff Photographer

Lawson’s setup underneath his stand includes cards to type on, a speaker that blasts music, and his coffee. Haley Yates |Staff Photographer

One Saturday, a young woman approached Lawson and asked if he could write something she came up with. The woman had found her boyfriend cheating on her and wanted a 3×5 notecard saying, “F— John.”

“So I turned on the all-caps and typed ‘f— John, mother f—ing Smith,’” Lawson said. “She was like, that’s exactly what I needed!”

He often times finds himself using his counseling degree, while other times he just likes getting to know people.

“I’m being nosey, but what are you doing?” Kim Brecht, a previous UNT student, asked while walking by with her daughter and granddaughter.

“I write things to people and give them away,” Lawson said. “What are y’all doing today?”

“It’s her birthday!” one of them said.

“So the ladies are out celebrating a birthday,” Lawson said as he started to work on his typewriter.

This is what he wrote to them:

Happiness is being with family

Unconditional joy is yours

Thank you for sharing your love so freely with the world!

The bubblegum typewriter originally belonged to his mother, who died a few years ago. She got it when she was in college as a gift from her parents. It’s been in storage for a while, and over the summer Lawson decided to get it out and dust it off.

David Lawson hugs Mattie Counts after she tells him about her recent  breakup on Oct. 17. Haley Yates |Staff Photographer

David Lawson hugs Mattie Counts after she tells him about her recent
breakup. Haley Yates |Staff Photographer

He took it to a typewriter refurbish shop in Dallas and found out it was a collector’s item.

Lawson said he sometimes makes mistakes on his typewriter and instead of retyping someone’s poem, he tells them typos are free because they’re a thing of the past.

“I try my best and again I also try not to be perfect,” he said. “It’s a great practice in life. Perfectionism is the enemy of creativity.”

Lawson often has returning customers from week to week.

“I still have the one you wrote for me,” Justin Prince said. “I keep it in my truck.”

Lawson said he plans to continue his work on the Square, changing the time of day he arrives so he doesn’t lose the element of surprise.

“We are the art, and life is not like a practice run,” Lawson said. “Being yourself and expressing and having something to say about who you are is the whole purpose of being here.”

Featured Image: David Lawson opens up his typewriter to reveal the inside. Haley Yates |Staff Photographer

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