Tracey Gibbs is a contemporary printmaker from Perth, Western Australia. With roots in wildflower country in the south west of Western Australia her fascination with botanicals is long-standing. Raised in a resourceful and creative family, her interest in art specifically took hold in high school, especially when she was first exposed to both Fauvism and especially Pop Art. Lurid, almost unnatural colour remains an obsession and features prominently in her work.
Tracey started her design career as a book designer (BA Graphic Design) and excelled in the field for over a decade. She relished the versatility of book design, and within a few years of beginning her graphic design career, Tracey started out on her own; freelancing within the publishing field. She loved the challenge of running her own business and grew a solid client base. She also had the opportunity to illustrate a few children’s books which had been a long-time goal of hers.
In 2018 health issues forced Tracey up out of her computer chair and to pivot from Graphic Design and into Art. Printmaking, specifically screen printing has been a love of Tracey's from the first time she was exposed to it in high school. Tracey’s love of nature continues to influence her creative direction and she is excited to explore detail and joy in all its forms.
Tracey says; my process starts out in the field. In order to understand the composition of flowers I prefer to study them in person. Of course, strict wildflower conservation laws means I am often found sat in the dirt with the ants and the birds to get a good study. It is here though that the magic happens. With the help of a macro photographic lens and enough time drawing, I start to find the detail of the plants; star-shaped stamens, sweeping forms, geometric repetitions.
Armed with sketches and photos I then spend time in my home studio honing form. My decades-long admiration for Pop Art begin to come into play as I reduce and refine the shapes of the subject. When the balance between complexity and simplicity feels right it is time to move onto inks. I mix the ink and I spend a seemingly inordinate proportion of my time getting the tones exactly right. My work is primarily tone and form so this step cannot be rushed.
From here on it is all systems go as I cut paper stencils and screen print them by hand. While typically screen printing is done mechanically to deliver consistency and repetition, I prefer something that is obviously made by hand. I use the same graphic detailing in each piece; various stripes, fading dots and polka dots to create shade and dimension. The paper stencils begin to buckle and dissolve over the course of an hour or so, this means that these prints are true limited editions. The paper stencils have been destroyed from the minute the screen is washed. The texture screens I have created using the more permanent emulsion method which enables me to use them repeatedly across the whole series. The repeated use of these elements across my range weld each work together, helping to create a series and a visual language. The end result is a bold colourful print that commands attention. From afar it looks slick and crisp and on closer inspection it has the warmth and charm of something made by hand with care and attention.