The twins in this project are James and Michael Fitzgerald - Ireland-based art duo that works across a wide range of disciplines of the visual arts, including illustration, graphic design, printmaking, painting and three-dimensional workInnovative, brave and with a sense of humor, they create concept driven work for advertising campaigns, book covers, editorial illustrations as well as large-scale mural and art projects. Their work can be seen around the world, and has already attracted the attention of clients such as Facebook, Jameson, Aer Lingus, Magners, ING Direct, Penguin, The Guardian, Wired, Adweek and Variety. They tell us a little bit in advance about the art they create in a duet before we can hear and see them as guest lecturers at the International symposium - part of the Design Festival where Melba invites us this November in Sofia.

What are the challenges when working with your twin brother?
We don't really see it as a challenge. We usually work on everything together and have a really good working relationship. As we know each other so well we can quickly understand each other when working on ideas.

How did you manage to build your own joint/collective style? Describe your working process when creating an illustration.
We both studied graphic design and also have very similar interests. Once we started working together our style developed naturally between us. We always believed in having a strong concept first so our very simple graphic style developed because of this. Most of our work tends to be editorial illustration. We start by reading the article, pulling out some of the main themes, sketching anything trelating to it. At this stage it is just very simple shapes, scribbles or even words. We try and find some visual connections between the main themes of the article. This keeps developing further until we get something that we think will make a really strong image. After this we send a couple of sketches to the client. Once one is approved the image making part comes together quite quickly, blocking out simple geometric shapes and adding some subtle textures. We try to keep them as simple as possible, with just a few colours. Editorial deadlines tend to quite tight with the whole process usually taking just a few days.

How does your usual workday look like?
It depends on what we have on that day but we usually get to the studio around 9.30 or 10 in the morning. Most days we are in the studio working on editorial illustration. Other weeks we could be making work for a show so we might be working on some screen prints, or painting in the studio. We try to keep regular Monday to Friday working hours unless we are away working on a larger project such as a mural or exhibition.

What made you so passionate about illustration in the first place? Do you remember the first influences you've got as artists?
Illustration as a profession came about as a result of us both studying graphic design. We would have been more interested in image making and poster design. Our earliest influences in college would have been designers such as Paul Rand and Saul Bass. We really liked how they combined illustration with design. 

Your focus are editorial illustrations. What qualities and know-how are useful when working with print media?
With our work we are trying to grab peoples attention as they flick through a magazine or newspaper. We kind of see our illustrations as visual headlines. For us it's all about communication. As we work on magazines globally you have to have an understanding of how images can be read in different cultures. Also having a good knowledge of the technical aspects such sizes and how colours reproduce in print helps a lot. 

Your vision about the future of print media?
For years now we keep hearing that print is dead yet there are still new magazines coming out and more people commissioning than ever before. Although a lot of things are going digital we feel that there is still an appetite for specialist magazines and longer read newspaper articles. These are also the ones that tend to commission more illustrations anyway so we will keep working in editorial illustration for as long as we can. More and more you see work being animated for use online too which can offer more possibilities of how an editorial image can work.

Do you find time for some personal projects? Tell us more about them.
Absolutely. Sometimes it can be hard to balance both commercial and personal work but we always try and leave time for personal projects. It is hugely important to our practice as this is where we can experiment, develop and learn. We find that our personal work leads to better and more interesting commercial work.

The hardest, the most inspiring and the craziest project you've worked on?
Our personal work usually tends to be the hardest or craziest. This is where we try and push the boundaries of our practice and learn new skills.

Getting out of your comfort zone can be a bit daunting but also quite rewarding. For us it has lead to interesting projects such as an outdoor metal sculpture we created for a school or a large mural we painted in the Facebook Offices.

What is your advice for someone who just starts working design?
Get a twin! It halves the workload. Although it also halves the pay too. Failing that it’s the same as anything else you want to do. You have to work hard for it and be willing to invest in yourself. If you don’t, no one else will. For us it was always our personal work that got us to where we are.


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