Twins Cartoon is the moniker of two artists who are (as you might imagine) brothers — but you might now know it, given how little information exists publicly about them. Rather than ever presenting themselves as separate entities, they instead exist as one unit (the eponymous Twins).
It’s this fact that’s a testament to their success, and the absolute precision with which they operate, seamlessly completing tasks as a duo. For every artist who wished they could clone themselves to get all their work done, there is Twins Cartoon.
Mohammad — who spoke to us on the phone — and Haitham have nailed down their creative process, “We graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts, and started our career together,” he explained. “We can both draw, but Haitham is better at character design, colouring, and I am better at layout and storyboard design.”
Since they started working at 2007 they have created an impressive portfolio of work, having seen their art used as far as Europe (Majid Magazine) and Canada (Star Publishing). They also worked with UNICEF educational supplement, illustrating online lectures – giving resources to people in classrooms which lacked them. They haven’t limited themselves in what they have used their art for, and it reflects their ethos.
“Creativity can be everywhere, in business, in every day life. If you’re making a pharmacy, you need banners made, you need designers. Everything is creativity for me. My eye is a camera, I see it everywhere.”
Their own humble beginnings, having been encouraged from an early age by their parents, who took them to gallery openings, have given them a unique and refreshing perspective on how to act within the local scene.
This gave them space to work at the Luxor Cinema Festival, an international workshop for film-making which allowed them to soak up the culture of many countries around them, “It was cultural exchange, between us and Kenya, Algeria, Libya, Rwanda, I even learnt some things about Egyptian culture!”
They worked on a project called Kawkab el Rasameen (“Painters Planet”), which saw them take established local artists and pair them with underground works to work together bringing colour to the streets of Cairo, Alexandria, and more. “It’s a workshop, not a class. Workshop means teamwork; why can’t I learn as much from these artists as they can from me?”
Their relative fame in the scene, as well as international experience, has not changed them. “I don’t like the artist who [gets famous and] says, ‘I am [done] with this place.’ – the greatest gift Allah gave you is your creativity. You have to make your world into a bridge.” Bridging the gap between artists of different levels, as well as artists and their community, is important, given the situation. “Egyptian artists have it harder – we have the talent, but not the platform to showcase ourselves.”
And because they practice what they preach, their next step is to start a magazine with their significant pull, showcasing underground artists to the world, giving them a voice. “Cairo doesn’t sleep,” Mohammad muses. “There are always people creating here. It’s never been easier thanks to the internet.”
They are a force to be reckoned with. Even though they have worked individually, they are at their best when they are a team. When you speak to one, you really feel like they have a connection to each other that goes beyond words. In fact, they are also working on an animation, a light-hearted take on what it is to be a twin.
“Really the greatest experience is having a twin. In art, I am like half a person without him. We are practically stuck together. We do everything with each other, even though we also have our own lives.”
“We have our own girlfriends. We live together. We share everything, apart from our girlfriends,” he laughs.
For more on Twins Cartoon, visit their Facebook Page
-Interview by Chris Yeoh