Like Bonnie and Clyde, only with a lot less bank robberies, and a lot more creative thinking. Luce Barrett-Duffey and Scott Duffey are the dynamic duo of print making, spending their days designing and illustrating prints. Working together from their home studio, the partnership spend their days not only designing, illustrating and printing – being also bullied by their Yorkie, Pip.. Which is creating the picture in my mind of Dennis’ side kick Gnasher, only wrapped up in the cutest packaging, maybe complete with a bow?
Devoting their days to the world of creativity hasn’t always been something of a reality; if we rewind back a few years, you could find the pair serving up pizza to punters and finding friendship over a love of art and music. It was just over a year ago that Luce and Scott set up their home studio and began working under the pseudonym of Toucan Tango. Giving us the low down on exactly what they do, “we design and illustrate prints that (we hope) people like to have in their home, as well as designing and producing various other products we also love working with bands to create limited edition gig posters for one off gigs and tours.”
“A big highlight was working on a comic style booklet for the Tate Liverpool to educate gallery-goers on the working process of Roy Lichtenstein.”
In just over 12 months that the pair have been in business, Toucan Tango have sold their work around the North West of England and tapped into the music festival scene; setting up and selling their designs to European party goers. Branching into such events has proven “a great way to meet other amazing creative people”, and the list of “stand out fairs and festivals” that the studio have been involved in is an impressive one; including Primavera in Barcelona, Liverpool Print Fair, York Print Stuff, Northern Craft in Leeds and the Good Life Festival in Flintshire.
While on the topic of stand-out moments, the print makers describe two projects that hit the mark for being career highlights so far. One of which combined their love for visiting galleries with their love for designing and illustrating. “A big highlight was working on a comic style booklet for the Tate Liverpool to educate gallery goers on the working process of Roy Lichtenstein.” And the other comes in the form of turning point for the studio, having gained a stockist based in New Brighton. Lavender and Bone is one of those shops where you enter looking for a gift for somebody else, and leave with five for yourself instead. They have added to their dreamy stock and now also sell Toucan Tango’s prints, which was a “big day” for the two-man band and has provided them with a learning curve in the world of shop retailing.
Earlier this year the Toucan Tango duo were invited by Northern Lights to play a huge part in the organisation, acceleration and set up of Liverpool’s ‘Gigs and Graphics’ exhibition. A city-wide event that pulled together their knowledge, expertise and contacts from the print x music world. Speaking to them prior to the event taking place, “it just so happens that from doing the print fairs over the last year we have met some incredible gig poster artists. So we have invited them all to take part and had an amazing response.” Gigs and Graphics was a roaring success within the city, bringing together people from all walks of life to experience the showcasing of great artists work. I’m sure, if I were to ask them after Gigs and Graphics, that the event adds to their index of career high points.
“We get bogged down sometimes when designing and end up thinking something looks terrible.”
We’re all so familiar with the notion of silver linings. And the beauty of facing challenges in both your professional and personal life is the development that is a result of them. So, we get on to the conversation of ‘challenge’ with Luce and Scott to understand where their hurdles lie in a business that is little over a year old. “A challenge we have faced is focusing on what we want to make next. We are constantly coming up with new ideas for prints and products but may have a bad habit of not finishing some of them. We are getting better at this though (we hope).”
Therefore, from what we can hear, it doesn’t sound like there’s any shortage of creative ideas. But there’s a time for everyone where they look at what they’re doing and either something’s missing that you can’t put your finger on, or you simply just don’t feel happy with it. When this happens, Toucan Tango are prepped and ready to apply some handy advice Scott once received from Creative Director at Listen Creative, Tony Casson.
And that is The Golden Five Minutes.
Explaining the reality of these Golden Five Minutes, “we get bogged down sometimes when designing and end up thinking something looks terrible. Step away and leave it for a little and come back to it with fresh eyes. You might be surprised at A. silly mistakes you have made. B. it looks better than you think. C. it’s always nice to take a little break.” So when creative blocks stumble into your path, flick the kettle on and crack open the digestives for a 5-minute breather… The benefits of clarity are endless, and ones that translate so comfortably to any industry, profession and problem.