The Secret Life of the Pencil: An Abstract Portrait Series of Today’s Creatives as Seen Through Their Pencils

Celia Birtwell

Photographer Mike Tinney and industrial designer Alex Hammond were discussing the current state of technology and creativity when they had an observation: with enormous advances in technology, client demands for speed and quick turnaround often venture into the unreasonable leaving precious little time for thinking, sketching, or ideation. Despite advancements in software, the duo found that pencils remained central to their own process of formulating ideas and began to wonder if this held through across creative industries.

“The pencil and it’s ability to bridge the gap between hand and paper so effectively makes it exceptionally powerful, and as we’ve found, still much loved amongst the creative heroes of our generation,” shares Hammond. As they reached out to other established artists, designers, and photographers they began to request writing utensils to photograph using a special setup. “For each pencil we art directed the shoot to have a very subtle ‘nod’ to them or their work. When that wasn’t suitable, we let the pencil they had chosen to represent them talk for itself, documenting them in their purest form.”

Tinney and Hammond gathered the pencil portraits together in the new book The Secret Life of the Pencil available worldwide through Laurence King.

William Boyd

Dave Eggers

Tracey Emin

Thomas Heatherwick

Henry Holland

Anish Kapoor

Nick Park

Gerald Scarfe

David Shrigley

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