The Brothers Hildebrandt
(American, b. 1939)
Twin brothers Greg and Tim Hildebrandt were fascinated since childhood by science fiction, comic books, and the movies. Inseparable since birth, the brothers lives and careers shared the same trajectory and major events. Joining the peacetime Army after high school, the brothers were subjects of military tests for extrasensory perception and demonstrated their psychic ability to "be in the other's head", accurately recalling something only the other had seen. Uniquely, but perhaps not surprisingly given this ability to share visual imagery, the Brothers would work in tandem on larger scale paintings, working on either side of the canvas towards the middle or in consecutive shifts. Each brother's individual contribution to the final work is indiscernible. Following their brief stint in the Army, the Brothers attended the Menzinger School of Art in Detroit but their academic career was short-lived. Having honed their artistic talent much earlier in life, the twins set out to pursue work in animation and by the mid-sixties, the Brothers were designing films, creating story boards, and mastering stop motion and live-action animation for the Jam Handy Company.
Their early careers as illustration artists began at the age of 20, illustrating for children's book and creating art for advertisements. Asked frequently to work in the style of other popular illustrators, the brothers were frustrated by the assignments and sought to distinguish themselves in the field. Avid readers and fans of the J.R.R. Tolkien Lord of the Rings stories, the brothers submitted Tolkien illustrations to Ian and Betty Ballantine (Ballantine Books) having discovered a call for artwork on the back cover of the 1975 calendar illustrated by Tim Kirk. Their illustrations for the 1976 and 1978 Tolkien calendars so perfectly captured the characters and scenes of the Lord of the Rings that Ballantine sold over one million calendars.