“If you take out the team in teamwork, it’s just work. Now who wants that?” Matthew Woodring Stover, Star Wars Novelist
Kate Argles and Lily Uivel’s world is one of laser cutting, CNC machining, wood and paper cutting, engraving and 3D printing. No two days are the same for this young dynamic duo that run Swordfish Works, a laser cutting London company in the heart of Shoreditch.
Kate and Lily are problem solvers and it’s obvious they love what they do. They take pride in helping designers, artists and creatives realise their dreams.
We recently interviewed the girls that are giving creative solutions to London’s creative communities.
Here’s what they have to say…
Meet the Team – Kate Argles and Lily Uivel
How did you come to work at Swordfish Works?
Kate: I guess my passion for model making all started when I saw the Lord of the Rings – ‘the making of’. I was totally inspired!
I went to university in Bournemouth and have a degree in model making. From that I went straight into working at Swordfish and have been here for almost 3 years.
Lily: I studied a Bachelor of Fine Art in my home country, New Zealand and have since worked across a variety of creative industries. In New Zealand I worked in the film industry as a prop maker, then in London as a bespoke furniture maker, which led me to laser cutting and Swordfish works.
What are your main responsibilities?
Both our roles involve a lot of responsibility from initially meeting the client and discussing their project, to ordering the material and making the actual product.
Do you have a particular specialised skill?
Kate: CNC, laser cutting, vinyl cutting. Spray finishing has recently become a bit of a speciality for me too.
Lily: Obviously laser cutting but also surface design – paint finishing, texturing, polishing and specialised finishes.
What is a typical working day for you?
Kate: After a 1.5 hour commute my normal routine is to check my priority list/note to self which I write every evening. I then spend an hour going around the workshop turning on and setting up all the machinery, ready for the jobs in hand. After that, a meeting with Lily and then I get the ball rolling with whatever projects are in the queue.
Lily: My day starts with a commute from Peckham. When I arrive at the workshop, the first thing I normally do is check emails, address any quotes and up date the admin side of things. Then I normally have a meeting with Kate, where we discuss jobs and review schedules and the Swordfish diary.
What inspires you most about your job?
Kate: The variety of projects I get to work on. Laser cutting is a fast paced, problem solving activity and every day I gain valuable insight into some very interesting work.
Lily: Talking to the array of clients we have. Communication is essential to help them achieve their projects and creative vision.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to work in the laser cutting industry?
Kate: Be versatile, open minded with a ‘can do’ problem-solving attitude. You must also have focus, as precision is key in this industry.
Lily: I think for anyone in the model making trade staying up to date with modern technologies is the most important factor. Remember each job is someone’s baby!
How do you see the future of laser cutting?
Kate: It’s an unknown entity as laser cutting is becoming more affordable, enabling artists and designers to expand on their ideas and have prototypes made so much more quickly. This can only be a good thing.
Lily: CNC machining is a game changer for the design industry and it’s going to become more popular. Bespoke fabrication is a growing industry.
What would be your favourite meal and who would be your perfect dinner guest?
Kate: Any pasta dish with Louis Theroux. I think he’ll definitely have a few interesting stories to tell!
Lily: A burger with my mum and dad! I do miss them and they have always been my main inspiration. Mum was a sculptor and dad was a film prop-maker who worked on huge productions such as the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
So I guess it’s easy to see where my influences lie – I grew up surrounded by it!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Kate: “Don’t take life too seriously” I am known to worry too much.
Lily: My dad always said, “If you do what you love then you never have to work a day in your life.”
Three things that make you smile?
Kate: Funny people/humour, reading and knitting. I knit hats and blankets in my spare time and I find the whole process so relaxing.
Lily: Digital illustration/drawing, reading, and being with my partner at the end of the day.