Secret Pencils

The humble pencil is found at the beginning of most of mankind’s greatest achievements. But will the touch-screen generation ever feel the pleasure of a freshly-sharpened pencil or the frustration of a shattered lead?

This photographic project seeks to savour the use of pencils – documenting them in stunning detail, thereby disclosing the secrets of their use and revealing an insight into their users: professionals who have defined themselves and their craft with the help of this modest implement.

Unassuming, unsung and 0.02% the cost of an iPad, our faithful friend continues to lead its many secret lives alongside much more complex technology. It remains loved by our most influential and eloquent creators.

This collection of pencil images is a direct link back to some of the 20th and 21st centuries’ greatest illustrations, buildings, artworks, photographs, products, make-up designs, graphics, novels, poems, fashion, cartoons and even films.

Alex Hammond & Mike Tinney developed this project into a series of art exhibitions and auctions across Europe and Japan, a supporting role to educational programmes in the DRC run by Children in Crisis, a TEDx talk, a pencil sculpture in Heathrow’s T5 and a book.

Project website

Mike Tinney


Children in Crisis

Laurence King Publishing

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