Liz and Kate Pope, illustrators

Cover%203Identical they may be, but Liz and Kate Pope aka The Pope Twins have quite different personalities and although they are both artists their talents are quite distinctive.

They are like two sides of the same coin which is exactly why when working together they are a force to be reckoned with in the world of illustration.

Since they set up their joint venture the pair have provided the artwork for more than 40 books as well as numerous cards, calendars, puzzles, stationery and even gift wrap. They even find time to create beautiful prints in their distinctive collage style.

But the Derbyshire duo are pretty modest about their success and don’t like to make too much fuss about what they do.

“We just prefer to get on with it,” says Liz who reckons she is the calming influence in the partnership.

“We treat what we do just like any other job and work hard at it together. We are obviously really thrilled with how it has worked out so far but mainly we are just pleased that we can make a living from doing something we love.”

The 35-year-old twins were born and brought up in Westhouses near Alfreton and went to school at Tibshelf where they enjoyed art.

It seemed natural for them to both go to Chesterfield College to study the subject and then they remained side by side at Staffordshire University where they specialised in surface pattern design.

However, even though they were on the same course, their work was developing in different directions.

Kate explained that while her sister’s work was more precise, as Liz likes to draw and is happiest when she has a pencil in her hand, she herself much preferred to be experimenting with paint and colour.

“We are quite different in the way we work and we hadn’t really planned to actually stick together but it all just seemed to fall into place at the end of the three years,” she explained.

Liz takes up the story saying: “We both had briefs we were trying to complete and we realised that we needed help from each other. I could do the drawing but had to ask Kate if she would help me with the colour. And likewise she needed my help with the drawing.

“After that it just seemed obvious that if we worked together we would be much more successful,” she added.

“The best thing that happened to us right at the start was getting signed up by an agency – Advocate Art – they liked a street scene I had created for my university portfolio and said they would like a witch adding for a children’s book,” explained Liz.

“Wanda’s First Day, which was about a witch going to school, was our first book and we have since built up a reputation for that sort of work.”

Kate claimed her sister had had ambitions to be a children’s book illustrator years earlier. “You once said that’s what you wanted to do,” she said as they reminisced. Liz grins and admits she never imagined it would actually happen.

The sisters live on opposite sides of Chesterfield with their respective partners – Kate and Shaun in Newbold and Liz and Pat in Old Brampton Road – which is the home where the women have based their studio. Every day Kate takes the short journey across the town to join her alter ego and then they get down to work.

While Liz sketches and draws to the brief sent by the agency Kate will be busy with the tiniest pair of scissors (“much easier to work with than the normal size,” she says) cutting out the colours from stacks of paper which they have unearthed from a variety of sources including magazines.

Once the colour is in place the artwork goes back to Liz for the fine detail and delicate additions which are one of the delightful characteristics of their work.

“We are quite methodical about it all and love the challenge of the deadlines set by the agency as it keeps us focused,” said Liz.

And having a little joke at her sister’s expense she said it stopped Kate having the chance to “faff about”.

Not rising to the bait Kate added: “We have never really been the sort of twins who wore the same or thought the same but we feel lucky to be together and share the same interest in art and be able to make it work for us.”

The twins stage workshops at StraightCurves in Chesterfield and have work exhibited at Opus Gallery in Ashbourne. For news follow them on Facebook.