The Crispin Finn story is as lovely as the pair’s artwork (they’re pretty bloody lovely people too). After meeting at a party in London’s Primrose Hill, they soon realised their overlapping interests. Roger was a Fine Art graduate, but with a load of wasted un-related ideas bulking up his head. Anna studied design and ended up in a job that she didn’t enjoy. After bringing together their skills and influences, and the many evenings and weekends spent creating and printing, Crispin Finn was born. The result? It’s some of the most handsome art in good old red, white and blue. LBB’s Addison Capper chatted upcoming collaborations, creative heroes and, of course, those three stand alone colours with them.
LBB> Where did you both grow up? What kind of children were you?
CF> Finn (aka Anna) grew up in Salford and Crispin (aka Roger) grew up in Leicestershire. So city meets country.
LBB> How did the Crispin Finn story begin? Where did you meet?
CF> We met each other at a party on Primrose Hill and were basically the last to leave…! Things really haven't changed since then.
There were so many crossovers of interests and influences, particularly vernacular design, functional and elegant ephemera, hand-painted sign writing - that sort of thing. Anna was in a job that she wasn't enjoying, so on evenings and weekends we started making things together. The first thing we produced was the year planner, which was born out of a lack of availability of functional a one that was also attractive.
The name Crispin Finn came from combining Roger’s middle name (Crispin) with a nickname Anna had created for herself (Finn) for an online username. We liked the way they sounded together and the idea of an autonomous pseudonym.
LBB> What are your creative backgrounds?
CF> Anna studied graphic design. It was a very conceptual course, which meant coming up with lots of ideas, but no actual practical skills. She worked at a variety of places that included design, publishing and advertising before deciding to go solo.
Roger graduated from Chelsea with an MA in fine art painting before working and exhibiting internationally as an artist. However, he also had lots of ideas that didn’t really fit into the painting practice, many of them graphic and ephemera based. These were exactly the sorts of things that we could realise as Crispin Finn.
LBB> How do you work as a duo? Do you each have different roles or is it an equal playing field?
CF> We work real well together, hence the partnership. It depends on the project but generally it's pretty even. We're both involved conceptually and artistically on everything we do, from initial ideas, drawings and reference points through to the final work. If there is one distinction in the way we work, our creative backgrounds are reflected in the way that Anna tends to work more digitally and Roger more physically. Also, we both screen print all of our own prints - this is a job we fight over because we both really enjoy it.
LBB> All of your artwork is produced in red, white and blue - why is this? Is it a patriotic nod to Great Britain or are there further underlying connotations?
CF> We always loved those colours and how they worked together on airmail. But the real reason we decided to restrict ourselves in this way was because we wanted to screen print the year planner, which was the first item that we produced. To make things more economic, we decided to only use red and blue on white, which meant we only had to buy and mix two colours. From then on it developed into something of a challenge to see how far we could take it. Eventually it became a key factor in trying to create economic design, and ultimately evolved into an identity.
LBB> Your recent 'Passing The Time' print - which I love - was exhibited at London agency Brothers and Sisters. How did you get involved with them and what did you want to achieve with the relationship?
CF> Brothers and Sisters’ Lu Howlett contacted Siobhan Squire (our agent) about the possibility of having an exhibition in their new offices. After going along to see the space, the one thing that really jumped out about it was how much glass and open space there was, so we decided to do a full scale vinyl window installation. We liked the waiting area, with its many objects and curiosities on display, so we came up with the idea of filling the windows with objects and pursuits that pass the time.
LBB> Being a bit of a burger addict, the first piece of work I saw by you guys was the 'Know Your Condiments' tea towel for blogger Burgerac. Are there any more collaborations in the pipeline that you can tell us about?
CF> Yes! We’re really excited about a range of designs that we’re working on for The Fableists - they are an exciting new ethical children’s clothing company. We’re also involved with an exclusive product for Not Another Bill’s monthly subscribership and are hosting an evening of curated drinks and printed cocktail ephemera for Beach London, called ‘Sex on the Beach’. Variety is the spice of life as they say…!
LBB> Who are your creative heroes?
CF> This is a long and probably endless list, but to name a few constants: David Gentleman, Tom Eckersley, Eduaordo Paolozzi, Steve Powers/ ESPO, Eric Ravilious, Alex Steinweiss, Charles Burns, Milton Glaser, Bob Gill, Paul Rand, Alan Fletcher, Herb Lubalin, Sophie Calle, Matthew Brannon, Gerd Arntz, Lee (Alexander) McQueen, Margaret Calvert, Chris Ware, Stanley Kubrick & Phyllis Pearsall.
LBB> What are the pieces of work that you are most proud of and why?
CF> Pack Rat and our on-going Film Poster range are personal projects that we love making. They are incredibly time-intensive to produce but there is a real satisfaction when they finally get completed.
Our annual planner is something we feel very proud of because it’s what we first started working on together. Five years on and we sell them all over the world to an amazing range of customers - museums, famous people, non design-related offices. And it all began with a conversation down the pub.
On a different note, we produced a piece of board game-related work for a client pitch last year, but it didn’t actually get used. Anyway, we loved it… we’re sure we’ll find a use for it one day.