Top drawer creativity: What are the tools of the creative trade?


By The Drum Team | Staff Writer

January 21, 2015 | 6 min read

What's in your top drawer? That was the question posed by Hiive, the new professional network for the creative industries, as it explored the hidden tools behind some of the UK's most coveted creative roles – from journalist to jewellery maker.

Working with photographer Harry Mitchell, Hiive, the networking hub for creatives, has produced a series of revealing photographs offering a unique glimpse into a cross-section of creative roles, from filmmakers to jewellery designers. Over the following pages, we find out more about the tools and skills needed across the creative spectrum.

Tom Williams, post production dialogue editor, Hackenbacker

Williams has worked in audio post production for a number of years, working on programmes including Downton Abbey and Musketeers, and films including The Phone Call.

“My keyboard’s got all the shortcuts for pro tools on it. I know all the buttons anyway but it’s handy to have the keys mapped out like this. My boss Nigel Heath is a real perfectionist and demands ultra-crisp dialogue, and I’m expected to get forensic on my tracklays. That in turns makes me a perfectionist. You end up delving into syllables, finding letters from other sentences or sometimes I’ll have the actors record some extra letters and syllables.”

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Alex Hern, technology reporter, the Guardian

Hern is a journalist for the Guardian, covering technology and the impact it has on politics, pop culture and everyday life.

“I can’t write shorthand – I have no journalistic qualifications and I came into it through blogging. I have tried shorthand but I mainly use a dictaphone. So much of what I do is trying to spot the interesting things people say offhand. People don’t necessarily know what the most interesting thing they have to say is, and if you’re not really paying attention to what people are saying, you’re likely to miss that.”

Lee Lapthorne, creative director and founder, Doll and On|Off

Designer, consultant and catwalk producer Lapthorne founded Doll to produce fashion events for major brands including Vogue, Gucci and Selfridges. He also runs On|Off, which bridges the gap between on and off schedule designers during the fashion weeks.

“When I’m producing a show, the items most important to me are the stopwatch, the clip board and some gaffer tape. Once, a designer came to a show without his clothes rails, so we had to use the scaffolding that was inside the venue. Of course, the scaffold pole was too wide to get the hangers over, so we used gaffer around the pole to hang the clothes from.

“I wanted to send clients that we’ve worked with a present, so we commissioned Paul Young (chocolatier) to design these subversive chocolate dolls. When you break the doll open there’s a personalised message inside.”

James Withers, creative director of film, Venturethree

A motion designer and filmmaker at Venturethree, Withers creates brands for clients including Sky, Penguin and King. He is responsible for creative video content and is a keen filmmaker and note taker.

“I use the GoPro with a drone, which is an amazing bit of kit that enables you to get certain angles or shots that you just couldn’t get before, at least without very expensive equipment. I’m still learning though – we recently had to use two different cherrypickers to help get it out of a tree.

“I like all of these new, more accessible ways of filming – we can do a big shoot with a fancy camera, but since phone cameras have got so good we can use them for tests, recording trips and short Instagram moments around the studio. I used to think I should always be waiting for the perfect brief or job but I quickly realised it’s more about constantly trying things out. We go to clients with ideas rather than waiting for them to present us with a brief.”

Tessa Metcalfe, jewellery designer

A self-taught jeweller with a strong interest in taxidermy, Metcalfe casts pigeons’ feet to create bespoke and ready to wear pieces. She is one fifth of the London Rocks collective based in Hatton Garden.

“Lots of my tools are hand me downs. My mum’s boyfriend gave me these pliers – they’re actually really crap pliers, but for some reason are perfect for what I do. They have these great little grooves in them that are perfect for sitting the claws in and you can adjust the bolts to change the angle.

“I like the business model of making and selling. I studied illustration, and the whole industry is based on the idea that someone’s going to hire you and you’re going to work to their brief. There’s this whole middle man and you have to be reliant on someone else believing in you to be able to work. This is direct to the consumer – you can just make something and put it out there.”

This photoessay was first published in The Drum's print issue, out today (21 January). Photography courtesy of Hiive.


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