DRAWING LIFE by fred hatt

2010/11/13

Utility Belts

Filed under: Artists' Tools and Resources,Top Ten — Tags: , , — fred @ 19:00

Batman's Utility Belt, detail from Batman #203

As a kid, I was a big fan of Batman, both in the comics and the campy TV show starring Adam West.  One of Batman’s many cool tools was the bright yellow utility belt, keeping crime-fighting implements close at hand.  Batman’s utility belt was a fantasy version of the duty belt that police officers all over the world use to keep hands free and tools within reach while walking a beat or chasing down suspects.

Police Duty Belt, from Merriam Webster Visual Dictionary Online

The tool belts used by construction carpenters and electricians are among the most elaborate types of utility belts.  There are so many tools one might need at any moment, and you can’t just set your hammer down if you’re standing on a peaked roof.

Carpenter's Tool Belt

Pro photographers on location always have a plethora of gadgets and accessories.  Not only are they easier to find quickly in a photographer’s vest than in a camera bag, but the weight is more evenly distributed on the body than when everything’s in a shoulder bag.

Safari Photographer's Vest

Hikers and bikers have to carry the items they need in the most efficient way possible.  You can’t have things dangling or interfering with your freedom of movement.

Mountain Biker's Belt

A makeup artist often has to work standing up, touching up a model or actor on the set.  An apron with pockets keeps brushes and supplies accessible and keeps you from getting makeup all over your pants.

Makeup Artist's Brush and Tool Apron

A full bib apron combines many of the advantages of a belt or waist apron and a vest:  easy access to tools, comfortable weight distribution, and clothing protection.

Gardener's Apron

I’ve taken to wearing a short waist apron with pockets whenever I’m out and about in the city.  I use it to carry everyday practical items and tools I use in my freelance jobs.  It’s easy to repurpose the pockets to carry art supplies, photography accessories, or travel stuff like reading material and earplugs.

Fred Hatt wearing his everyday utility belt

I started using this apron when I was at the festivals at Brushwood Folklore Center, where I often do body painting and teach workshops.  In that setting, I usually wear a wrap skirt rather than pants, and the there was a need for pockets.  The black canvas apron filled the bill, like a sporran with a kilt.  I can’t remember where or when I originally got it, but mine is made by McGuire-Nicholas Workwear.  Below is a typical arrangement of the apron for everyday use:

Fred Hatt's utility belt with contents labeled

I have a camera always ready at hand for the kind of street photography I often post in this blog.  I have my digital voice recorder that I use to record thoughts, ideas and info while on the go, and to keep track of my expenditures.  The flashlight and tools are often needed when I’m working in a theater or on a photo or video shoot.  The monocular is a small telescope, useful for fine-focusing projections from a distance, another type of work I do.  An umbrella can be tucked in behind the waistband of the apron.  Everything is right where I can reach for it without thinking, and I keep my hands free.

I know this post is a bit of a departure for this blog, but I often write about the techniques and the creative process of drawing and photography.  Every artist needs good tools and supplies and equipment, and part of the artist’s journey of discovery is figuring out what items work well and how best to organize and maintain them.  All artists and craftsmen love their tools.  I hope this will be of interest to some of my readers.  I’ve created a new post category, “Tools and Materials”.  Please let me know if there are specific things along these lines you’d like me to post about.

The illustrations here were found on the web.  Click on any of the pictures above to link to the source of the image, excepting the last two, which are my own photographs.

5 Comments »

  1. My “utility belt” for years was a variation on this theme: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All-purpose_Lightweight_Individual_Carrying_Equipment . Now I carry a much lighter load. Post 9/11, working in NYC, I would us a “Scott eVest” to carry everything except lunch in my “coat” (vest had detachable sleeves, so could be a light coat or a vest).

    Comment by Fred Kiesche — 2012/03/19 @ 10:31

  2. Thanks for commenting, Fred. I like that ALICE system. I’m not military or police, but I always liked that way of carrying a lot of stuff and always having it at hand. In most places, people carry everything in a car, but in NYC even if you do that it’s unlikely the car is easy to get to when you need something!

    Comment by fred — 2012/03/19 @ 22:39

  3. Thanks for commenting, Fred. I like that ALICE system. I’m not military or police, but I always liked that way of carrying a lot of stuff and always having it at hand. In most places, people carry everything in a car, but in NYC even if you do that it’s unlikely the car is easy to get to when you need something!

    Comment by Fred Hatt — 2012/03/20 @ 12:48

  4. This was very useful – I’m a fresco artist and the ducking around while working, to get paper, water, brushes, pigments, rulers, microscope lenses – drives me crazy. I thought of getting a Utilikilt but I think they’re only from Seattle in Washington. Thanks for being one of the few useful sources of info on the web!

    Comment by iain carstairs — 2013/07/12 @ 16:30

  5. Iain, you might also look into photographers’ vests – they have all sorts of pockets for keeping supplies and gadgets close at hand. You can also keep things behind your ears, in your mouth, stuck in your hair or beard, etc. Whatever works!

    Comment by Fred Hatt — 2013/07/15 @ 02:26

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