We both studied at Manchester School of Art on the design program, we were paired together on the very first day for a ‘get to know each other’ brief due to our names being next to each other on the register. I guess we had all manor of ‘first jobs’, but only one that really mattered, we both applied to intern with Mike Perry who is an incredibly prolific illustrator based out of crown heights in Brooklyn, NY. We were only there for 2 months but learnt so much with Mike. He was and is a huge influence on us, not that our working styles are particularly similar but just the attitude he goes into each project with be it for a big client or a small personal painting is really positive and open to exploration both technically and creatively.
We have an ongoing digital publication called ‘FIN?’, as a studio we are fairly prolific in the amount of work we make for any one project, this, of course, leads to a great deal of work that ends up on the cutting room floor. We decided last year that it would be interesting to create an outlet for this rejected, unrealised, unfinished, unseen work to give it a life beyond a file that would at some point be deleted or forgotten about. We have so far released seven copies of FIN? (all available here), we were charging a small fee for them initially but we’ve since changed tack and decided it’s more exciting to reach more people regardless of their budget by making it a free project. If you order FIN? you will receive around 20 print ready A3 pieces via WeTransfer to your inbox to do what you want -- be that having an impromptu paste up DR.ME exhibition in an unused street near your house to simply having a free background for your desktop. Every 6 months we’re going to choose our favourite work from the past 6 issues and publish a physical copy, the first physical copy is available from our shop but also in great shops around the world like Printed Matter, Draw Down, Commend, Actual Source, Good Press, Village, and Magma.
I think simply to trust yourself. When we started we essentially knew very little - some would argue that we still do - but we went on a great deal of gut decisions whether that were choosing who we would work with or the style of work we would create. Everyone is different and there should never be one piece of advise as doctrine for everyone. If we were pushed on advise though…. Being smart is good, read loads, go to galleries, eat healthy, exercise, don’t do hallucinogenics in a strange place, the normal stuff.
Just being able to turn up every day and do what we want is an outrageous privilege. This aside and more specifically, probably curating a group exhibition at Mike Perry’s ‘Wondering Around Wandering’ gallery in 2012, it was called ‘Happy Accidents’ and featured a mixture of friends and heroes from around the world. Some of our nearest and dearest came with us and we had the most incredible time. Work-wise it was a super proud moment when we published ‘Cut That Out’ with Thames & Hudson last year, it continues to be exciting as friends go to prestigious galleries around the world and photograph it on display in the book shops! Other highlights worth mentioning have included record sleeves for Mick Jagger, being flown to Miami by Young Turks to talk about creativity on stage with Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) and Ezra Koenig (Vampire Weekend), being trusted with the creative direction of Midi Festival (a music festival on the French Riviera), being commissioned by the Tate to create a poster. Moving into a giant studio in Manchester called The Engine House with a host of talented friends.
Really hate the term networking, I understand what it means but I think too many people see it as a sure fire way of getting work by way of being pushy or sycophantic. I’d love ‘networking’ as a term to be replaced by simply being a good and decent person. What I mean by this is, when you go to the opening of a new exhibition or the launch of a book/magazine etc, don’t walk around with a business card trying to hunt out the most powerful people there, show an interest, learn something, talk with people about something other than design, shit, don’t mention work at all, if someone asks what you do then don’t be shy to tell them but don’t make it your opening gambit. Somebody is far more likely to remember and want to work with the person who was funny and interesting and gave them a good tip about some music they should listen to than the person who handed them a business card before saying hello.
We’d really love to have a monograph of the work we’ve made to date, something that examined everything from the extensive poster and record sleeve art we’ve made through to the exhibitions we’ve had and curated but in a non-linear fashion as we’re a non-linear studio :). This aside, continue making more work for exhibitions around the world, make work for clients who are excited to make brave and exciting work.