Anna and Roger aka uber talented illustrators Crispin Finn, with their true love of all thing red, white and blue, invited us and photographer Backyard Bill on a tour of their Dalston studio recently. They introduced us to their lovely dog Finn and we chatted over a beer about ideas that start in Roger’s parents kitchen, compulsively stealing drinks coasters, the amazing Crispin Fizz cocktail (which is lethal), labours of love, working in pairs, screen printing on glass, keeping things analogue, creating curatorial homages to films, making the disposable permanent, why art is work, taking pleasure seriously, listening to Ween and how, over a pint in the pub, they got off their arses and made things happen. All of this while the brilliant photographer Bill Gentle, aka, Backyard Bill snapped his way gloriously round their colourful studio. Enjoy.
Our backgrounds of design (Anna) and art (Roger) allow us to bring different approaches to a project, and although the crossover is much less defined now, Anna mainly worked in the computer and Roger out of the computer. That led to a way of working that still sticks, and almost everything we make begins as lists, then discussions, then drawings, then digital, and then into whatever process realises the final work.
We both love to work with physical processes which is why we still screen print our own personal work, or will hand paint a mural for example. Alongside the digital work, keeping a close relationship with making things by hand (mixing inks, choosing and working with paper stock, pulling prints, creating packaging, figuring out problems on a practical level, etc, etc), really does help to inform everything else we do. And it makes life fun.
The old school (and new school) ephemera that we collect is an extension of our reference library. It's a compulsion (for example it's often hard for us to leave a restaurant without taking a drinks coaster, a napkin and a menu if they're nice), and it feeds our brains and inspires us in all sorts of ways, but we're also very clear about wanting to make work that is contemporary - not a pastiche of the past. So we'll try to understand the rules of a piece of design or ephemera that excites us, rather than recreate the effects or textures that make that thing vintage or whatever.
So with the films, we pick a movie we love, watch it a couple of times, freeze framing and photographing all the objects as they appear, then we'll go though and select a group of around twenty five. These will then be type referenced and researched - we try and be as accurate as possible, so even if something appears partially obscured, we'll go to great lengths to recreate it. When all the objects are drawn we build the composition so it operates rather like a fictional prop cupboard of artefacts - everything at relative scale, collected together. This takes time, especially working within our restricted colour way, to make everything visible and clearly defined. The process creates an interesting neutrality around the items, freeing them of their narrative associations - only observers familiar with the film will be able to recall the pivotal or trivial scenes with which they are associated.
The series is a labour of love, but we hope anyone that is as crazy about the movies we depict as us might really enjoy seeing an accurately described, alternative way of referencing film.
Once the basic factors had been overcome - figuring out how to pull a print on a glass sheet without splitting the silkscreen, sourcing air-cured glass printing inks, using the correct mesh size, registration of each printed layer and just handling an edition that exists as fifty sheets of glass before framing, it was really nice to print. After several months of research, design based on a quote we felt would be really appropriate on a mirror from The Truman Show movie and finding appropriate packaging, we finally launched the mirror at London Design Festival and it's now available online.