Monday, 25 April 2016

My interview with The Kaplan Twins

Hey girls! How are you?
Fabulous! It’s 4pm and we’re on our second glass of wine, so doing great!

Talk me through an average day in the life of you?
It really depends on the day! We’re mostly in the studio painting and if we’re not physically there we're always doing something. Interviews, photoshoots, collaborations with other artists, stuff like that. We’re super into collaborations. Or we’re just like running errands, buying paint or whatever materials we need. And planning, discussing, aka arguing, and thinking of what we’re going to do next.

How old were you when you both decided you wanted to make art?
We’ve been painting and drawing since we were babies, so pretty much our entire lives. But it wasn't until after graduating that we decided we wanted to do this full time as our careers. We had jobs and internships in the past that were in the art world at galleries and museums and in fashion among other things. But we felt too behind the scenes and we were honestly bored. We felt like we had so much more to offer and it wasn't going to happen by sitting behind a desk. 

Was it always a given that you would work together?
Not really, but it sort of just happened. It was more destiny than a given. We were always encouraged by professors to work separately and to be our own individuals. Like, what? Lol. But in college - we went to NYU - we were always using each other for our projects. Like, I was her muse and she was my muse. We were always inspired by each other. And sometimes we would just share projects and submit the same thing even if the other one didn’t contribute to it at all. And then along the line we were like, fuck it, let’s just take all of the same classes and only work together. It’s just so much more fun and makes so much more sense. We were doing the same thing anyway, and we’re always together. Working together is also kind of like thinking out loud and having a discussion with yourself, but instead of having an internal battle with yourself and constantly questioning what to do in certain situations, we have each other to discuss with and justify our decisions. 

You studied in New York but now live and work in Los Angeles. What is it about LA that you love the most and can you see yourself ever moving back - for at least a New York Minute - to the Big Apple?
Nice reference lol. The weather obviously. But it’s also that we were just ready for something new. We grew up on the east coast (We’re Jersey girls, don’t tell anyone!) and then we studied in NYC for 4 years, so we were kind of over it and wanted a change. Also we think the art scene in NYC is very set in its ways and it’s harder for young artists to really stand out when you know there’s a system for the way things work, and you sort of have to go along with the system. The gallery scene is very different here, and it feels more laid back. It just feels like there’s new territory to disrupt. There’s article after article about how young artists are moving from NYC to LA and we think now is the right time to be here. We’re always going back to visit NYC, but we don’t know whether or not we’ll ever move back there. Maybe we’ll be bicoastal, that’s the dream. But who knows where life will take us. 

I love your celebrity sex scandal series! How do you feel about “celebrity” and what made you want to paint this series?
Thanks! We’re just fascinated with celebrities and celebrity culture. Probably another reason why we moved out to LA, Hollywood is here. We have this crazy amazing idea that artists are going to be celebrities and in the public eye in a more mainstream context, kind of like Warhol and Keith Haring and Basquiat back in the 80s. We want to be at the forefront of this new movement of artists moving from NYC to LA to combine art with celebrity culture. We’re building a network of other amazing artist friends and want to have people know us as much as they know our work. 

There are so many ways to view art now other than in a gallery and museum setting, like on social media, so it shouldn’t be just about the object anymore, but also about the person who makes the object. “Fine art” is really just a type of creative outlet for us, so we want to be seen as much as we are heard. And thats probably why we’re so fascinated, because we want that for ourselves. We’re also commenting on the idea of exploitation and how celebrities exploit themselves, and we’re sort of doing the same thing. Like, it’s just funny to us that people actually believe celebrities don't leak their own sex tapes. This series is kind of just in your face, like we’ve all seen the tapes, so here are the stills, in the context of art. Also the fact that Paris and Kim both took the same path to fame and stardom really fascinates us. First you're a socialite, then you have a sex tape, then a reality show, a shitty one hit wonder, perfume line, clothing line, etc, the list goes on. We’re poking fun at the celebrity culture and simultaneously trying to represent it ourselves. It’s kind of a weird mirroring parallel to the work we make and how we also put ourselves out there. 

Are you always on the same page with your creative ideas or does your work feel more like a collaboration between two different artists?
It’s hard to always be 100 percent on the same page 100 percent of the time. We’re identical twins yes, but we don’t always agree all the time, and we also bicker like a little married couple. But we’re pretty much on the same page too with what we’re doing and where we want to go. Like, for this interview, we’re both thinking the same thing anyway so we’re just meshing all of our thoughts together. And we complete each other’s thoughts and sentences anyway. We both have a lot of ideas for projects and what we want to work on next, so we’ll spitball really basic concepts to each other, and if we’re both super into something then thats what we’ll do. It’s not so much of “oh that was my idea”, or “that was her idea” because one of us will have the initial concept but we work the process out together. We don't always agree, but we’re a team, so everything is very give and take, and someone usually caves or comes around. Sometimes Allie’s the boss and sometimes Lexi’s the boss.

How would you describe your art to someone who might be unfamiliar with your work?
NSFW. Haha. It kind of also depends on who’s asking. Sometimes we’ll say, “Have you seen Kim Kardashians sex tape? We made a painting of it.” It’s definitely provocative, but also fun and silly and weird. Sometimes it offends people, but we’re just poking fun at celebrity culture and exploitation and really just pushing buttons. Like, oh, what kind of reaction would we get if we did x y and z? The goal isn’t to strictly offend people, but to generate conversation. We know people will be offended or shocked, but there are also people who think it’s hilarious, so there’s a giant range of emotion and thought, and that’s the goal. So with these celebrity sex scandal paintings we've been doing, where we screen grab celebrity sex tapes and turn them into giant oil paintings, that's us saying, “This is now art, not porn.” They’re paintings of porn, but it’s not porn, it’s art. We just think its interesting and funny.

I couldn’t not mention what has no doubt been mentioned to you a lot already in your life, which is your uncanny resemblance to the Olsen twins! This must be like a running joke to you both by now, right?

We were actually joking with our friends the other night that we should just drop The Kaplan Twins and go under the alias 'The Horny Olsens'. Thoughts? Lol. 

Haha I love that!

We literally hear it all the time, like our entire lives it’s been a thing. We used to find it annoying, but now we’re happy to play up on it and joke about it. Back in the day, in The New York Times, there was actually an article written about us and how we looked like the Olsen twins, which we hated when we were younger because we were 12 and got shit for it from other bitchy little girls, but now we think it’s hilarious. We’re kind of like the anti Olsen’s. They shy away from the spotlight and the cameras and shit and we’re like, “Hello! We’ve arrived!!” 

Were you fans of the girls growing up?
Duh. We grew up watching all of their films, had the MK and A Barbie dolls and everything. It was super entertaining and just resonated with us. 

Has acting or modelling ever been something you have both considered?
Definitely, and it is something we’re currently doing and tapping into! When we were younger we modelled, acted, had an agent and all that good stuff. We’re open to anything creative, acting is just one form of a creative outlet, modelling is another, and like we said earlier we just chose “fine art” as our outlet. But we like to think that everything that we do is a performance in a way, and all things creative go hand in hand, so why would we limit ourselves to just one thing?

In the Olsen’s absence, would you consider shooting a season of Fuller House for Netflix if a producer happens to read this and call you with an offer?
That would be hilarious and amazing! Like the ultimate performance. Why not. Where and when can we sign up?

What is your main goal for 2016?
We would love to change the way people think of “fine artists” and become icons and personalities too. To not only be known for our art but for who we are. We’re just starting out with our careers, so we'll see where it takes us. But we’re just constantly creating and working and we want to break boundaries. We definitely want to tap into everything and just have fun with it!

Which celebrity can we expect to see you paint next?
It’s a surprise so you’ll have to wait and see. ;)

Thanks girls!

You can follow The Kaplan Twins on Instagram at @the_kaplan_twins and view more of their work at


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