Published on 25 November 2020
Talented twins Brett and Ross Billingham are graduating with identical grades after studying the same degree course.
The 22-year-olds' long held interest in art and graphics led them both to study a BA Illustration and Design degree - graduating in 2019 alongside one another with exactly the same 2:1 grade.
They then chose to further their skills with a Masters in Design and after successfully showcasing their individual work at the annual MA Degree Show last month, both have achieved Distinctions and are delighted with the grading. Both graduate this week during our Winter Ceremonies.
Brett, who chose to study the MA Design because he wanted to take more time to develop skills to move into the industry.
Meanwhile Ross needed more time to explore ideas and improve his design skills with the MA Design, before entering the world of work.
It’s no surprise that the brothers also both hope to work in the visual development industry once they graduate and haven’t ruled out working together on projects if the opportunity arises in the future.
Acclaimed North East calligrapher and Programme Leader for MA Design at Sunderland, Dr Manny Ling, said: “I have never taught twins before so having Ross and Brett on the MA Design programme was really good fun. Although they look the same, their MA projects were so different. Ross designed a virtual reality environment for a game and Brett designed a board game inspired by the journey of Marco Polo. I am glad to say they both achieved Distinctions, with very similar grades, too.”
Asked how they coped during lockdown, as they continued their studies, the brothers say the experience gave them a chance to bounce ideas around and support one another.
Brett said: “I’ve coped well during lockdown and I have taken it as an opportunity to work even harder. I think artists/designers are lucky because they’re able to produce work from home.”
Ross added: “Lockdown was difficult, a lack of routine made it hard to concentrate on work. But it also gave me more time to reflect and focus on my creative goals.”
It’s not only in the in the classroom where Ross and Brett have made an impact at the University, the pair, from Gateshead, are also Black Belt Second Dans in Karate and have won numerous medals representing the University at BUCS (British Universities and College Sports) National competitions and have also been awarded full university colours.
Brett and Ross were also on the University's Elite Athlete Scheme where they received assistance to achieve their sporting potential whilst gaining their academic goals.
They were coached by UK National Women’s Karate Champion, illustration lecturer and 2018 Alumni Achiever of the Year Holly Sterling.
Ross said: “We have both been doing karate now for the last 11 years, it something we really enjoy doing, competing in tournaments, and supporting one another."
A three-day online celebration event is taking take place from Wednesday, November 25 and students can join at https://www.sunderland.ac.uk/class-of-2020-winter/