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. After high school she studied a short art course at TAFE and then went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design at Curtin University.
Tracey started her design career as a book designer 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 Tracey took the leap into a long-held dream of hers; producing self-driven 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 experience in design and love of nature continues to influence her creative direction and she is excited to explore detail and joy in all its forms.
I have always found a meditative space in the natural environment. I find value in the detail; there’s a wealth of repetitive pattern, geometric shape and unexpected colour ways to be discovered. It is always informative and often surprising. I grew up in wild-flower country and have early memories of being astounded at the volume and intricacies of nature’s design, that awe continues within me. My work explores these forms and tones. I hope to encourage the viewer to look closely at their surroundings, to appreciate the detail and the minutiae of life. For myself, I am conscious to choose joy; of pattern, of colour, of form. These are the motivations that fuel my practice; a deliberate optimism for work that feels fulfilling and life affirming.
My work 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. It is at this stage that my background in graphic design starts to influence my studies.
Armed with sketches and photos I then spend time in my home studio honing form. My time as a graphic designer and a 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.
photograph by JC LEMON PHOTOGRAPHY