The Secret Life of the Pencil looks at relationship between world's leading creatives and their humble tools

Most of us will remember those chewed up pencils we used to scribble with at school. Others will have fond memories of the small IKEA kind, found months later in a coat pocket. And some can perhaps cast their minds back to smoke-filled bookmakers, where the pencil was king.

All images courtesy of Laurence King. Main image credit: Mike Tinney

All images courtesy of Laurence King. Main image credit: Mike Tinney

In a fascinating new book, The Secret Life of the Pencil, designer Alex Hammond and photographer Mike Tinney examine the relationship between some of the world’s leading creatives and this humble tool, through a series of captivating close-up photographs, sketches, quotes and interviews. Published by Laurence King, it presents the pencils of over 70 acclaimed artists, designers, writers, architects and musicians.

From Stephen Fry and Tracey Emin’s modest wooden pencils to James Dyson’s slickly designed mechanical gadget, Dave Eggers’ labyrinthine nibbed tool and Paul Smith’s jewel-like object worth £3,000, each weird and wonderful pencil featured in the book becomes an accurate portrait of its owner, demonstrating that in the digital age the pencil is no longer just a simple work tool, but a much-loved totem of creativity. Visit for more information, and to buy the book.


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