Double the fun for design twins James and Michael Fitzgerald

The Project Twins, James and Michael Fitzgerald, take part in the Print Symposium.

IDENTICAL twins James and Michael Fitzgerald, who work under the name, The Project Twins, will be taking part in a major international print symposium at Cork’s Millennium Hall, organised by Cork Printmakers as part of the Cork Midsummer Festival.

It will be an opportunity for the twins to give a presentation on how their professional practice as illustrators and designers is influenced by their artistic practice producing fine art prints. The 34-year-old twins, originally from Cashel, Co Tipperary, are based at Churchfield’s industrial estate in Cork.

They both graduated in graphic design from CIT Crawford College in 2005 and after travelling and working in design agencies, they set up their practice in 2010.

“We had never planned on working together,” says James. “We arrived back in Ireland at Christmas 2008 at the start of the recession. Over 2009, we were wondering whether we’d go to Dublin or London to work. We had started doing a few bits together. When we decided to give things a go in Cork, we were doing a lot of graphic design.”

The twins don’t really regard themselves as graphic designers any more. “We’re more image makers. We do a mix of illustration and our own art work. The bit of graphic design work we still do is generally for organisations that we like to help out such as Cork Printmakers (of which they are members) and Indie Cork.”

The creative duo say they’ve always liked the idea of being able to work across different disciplines. “We do a lot of editorial illustrations and have agents in London and Brisbane. Most of the editorial work, about 60%, comes from the UK but we also do illustrations for magazines in the US. We’ve done stuff for the Guardian, Wired Magazine, The Economist and Nature Journal and a lot of random magazines. Sometimes, we might get the cover but it’s usually illustrations for feature articles. Our stuff would be very graphic pared-back images. We do a lot of work with finance magazines. It sounds boring but we like the idea of making an image for something that wouldn’t necessarily have an image to go with it. We almost see our illustrations as visual headlines, playing on a pun or using graphic wit.”

Technology has had a positive impact on the work of the Project Twins. “It’s now so easy to set up a website and get your work out there. While we do a lot of work on computers, our own work is printing and silk screen printing which are very old techniques. Technology speeds things up but I don’t know if the end result has changed massively.”

Is there tension between the twins’ commercial work and artistic work? “No, I don’t think so. We benefit from being able to move between the two. One kind of influences the other, especially with the editorial illustrations.”

Being twins means that James and Michael communicate well. “I don’t think there’s anything telepathic going on but growing up together and going to college together means we share a lot of the same influences and cultural references. We’re very good at being able to describe things to each other. We see our work as being a graphic language.”

As for the artistic scene in Cork, James says: “There are a lot of good artists but not a lot of opportunities here. Art spaces are being closed all the time. There aren’t many outlets for exhibiting either. It seems shops and hotels are more important than culture in the city.”

  • First Edition Print Symposium takes place at Cork’s Millennium Hall on June 23-24. www.corkprintmakers.ie.


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