montblanc Ama Lou Shaquille-Aaron Keith dnd do not disturb campaign hypebeast produced artists art music creativity video london uk visuals
montblanc Ama Lou Shaquille-Aaron Keith dnd do not disturb campaign hypebeast produced artists art music creativity video london uk visuals
This Is How Ama Lou and Shaquille-Aaron Keith Block Distractions To Spark Creativity
For Montblanc’s “DND” campaign produced by Hypebeast.
Presented by Montblanc

Ushering in the new year, Montblanc has teamed up with Hypebeast for its latest “DND” campaign spotlighting how British creatives Ama Lou and Shaquille-Aaron Keith block out distractions to spark their artistry.

Whilst perfecting its century-long craft rooted in progressive writing instruments, the Maison continues to diversify its offering. Delving into all accompaniments to creativity — from bags and accessories to headphones and watches — Montblanc aims to preserve the art form through its fine craftsmanship.

“DND” brings together two multi-faceted artists who, whilst not immediately apparent, have a unique affinity for the writing process. Whether it’s Ama Lou preparing for a studio session or Keith’s quick illustrations before transferring onto the big canvas – they use it as a tool to translate their thoughts and ideas into tangible works.

Fresh off the release of her latest album I Came Home Late, London-based Ama Lou sheds light on the importance of preparation.

Opting for Montblanc’s M Lock envelope bag from its latest Extreme 3.0 collection, whether it’s touring, recording, or writing, being well-equipped provides a sense of grounding, and some key pieces she keeps on her include a notepad, pens, post-it notes, a hard drive, and vocal trainers. “When you’re a musician, you move around a lot and your environment changes. You can take those bits and make any space feel familiar,” Lou says as she reaches for her MST 149 fountain pen.

From conversations she has to areas she visits, the artist finds inspiration in the most unexpected places. These everyday moments can turn into heartfelt lyrics, so writing on the go is an essential part of her process, and going back to basics — with a trusted pen and notepad — connects her to her craft like no other. “It helps me get hyper-focused,” she explains. “There’s no distractions, there’s no pop-ups or getting text messages and notifications. A book is just the paper, my ideas, and whatever’s coming out, so I can just hone in.” This not only gives freedom without interference but also allows her to actualize her thoughts — either jotting down lyrics or sketching costume ideas for a music videos — “getting them down on paper makes them real.”

When working on a project, however, it’s the discipline that’s key to producing exceptional work. “When you’re creating, you’re always up against scheduling. Creatives will know that there’s not much concept around time or how long something takes, but you have to fit it into the normal world,” she explains on the importance of keeping time. But external factors can also have an impact on the overall process, so “making sure your environment ensures that you’re successful in that and hitting those deadlines” as well as “having good people around to instill that,” creates optimal working conditions.

“You can’t have good, hard work without discipline,” Shaquille-Aaron Keith says, echoing Ama Lou’s previous sentiment. “From the moment I’m making my journey to the studio to when I’m actually in [there] is pretty much the same. I’m prepared to work.”

As the South East London native reflects on some of the things that keep him on the straight path, it’s clear that a love for music as well as the culture around him plays a significant role in his overall aesthetic, influences, and outlook. Sitting alongside one of his most celebrated works, Every Child’s First Sin, he breaks down how that piece, in particular, conveys the innocence of his childhood. From cherished bonding time with his sister to the pop-culture references seen throughout, this impact is carefully woven into every piece he creates. “I love anything that’s gonna provoke a thought in my head,” he explains on finding inspiration.

Being an artist as well as a poet, merging the two was the natural evolution of marrying his passions, and having the right equipment is as important as the final piece itself. “If you’ve got the skill to do the job, having the right tools just helps amplify what you already have,” he tells Hypebeast. “Going into the studio, I have time to mentally prepare myself but when I’m there I physically prepare myself. I get my pens ready, I get my paint brushes ready, and have everything on display.” He compares the process of painting to eating dinner, where every utensil has its specific purpose, saying, “You’ve got to know which pens are used for what. Which pencil is going to be used for this, and what paint brush you’re going to use for that.”

Blocking out distractions is the first step of delving into your inner creativity where “isolation is sometimes necessary, not always desired” because that’s when “you’re going to get the most honesty out of yourself.” Being focused and tapping into the potential of what your mind has to offer is a key part of every creative’s process, and for Keith, music is that medium for exploration. Opting for Montblanc’s MTB 03 earphones, it’s lightweight and pocket-sized and also boasts effective noise cancellation features that keep him locked in.

Rarely seen without one, a bag not only elevates his outfit choice but serves as a functional essential in his day-to-day. From carrying brushes and notepads to the tech that will keep him free from distractions during his studio sessions, finding the balance between space and style is crucial. “I don’t like making it look like having equipment on me is a chore. I always want it to look stylish,” he says of his choice of the M Lock duffle. “That’s what makes a good accessory. Something that you can use outside of its purpose.”

You can shop Montblanc’s full collection as seen on Ama Lou and Shaquille-Aaron Keith through the images above.

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