West Magazine Feature

WA –September 12

I was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the 5 emerging young talents of WA publishing for Belle Taylor’s feature article in The West Magazine. It was a surreal experience. Having just released my first (title credit) picture book it seems a surprise that I am held in such good company as people like Ambelin Kwaymullina and Alice Nelson. Now of course I am not silly enough to suggest I am on their amazing level but what I can say is it is an honour to even be associated alongside them.

The article is featured below.


Tracey Gibbs:  ‘It was a chance discovery when moving house that made Tracey Gibbs revive her earlier dream of becoming a children’s book illustrator. “When I was packing I found all my art supplies in one of those plastic tubs and it was completely covered in dust,” Gibbs said. “‘It was one of the moments where I thought, “I haven’t touched this for so long because I’ve been so busy doing work that I haven’t had the chance to do things that I love at home, just draw for myself and paint for myself and push illustration’ which is what I want to do.” She left her secure job as a designer and in-house illustrator at Fremantle Press and branched out as a freelancer, taking the plunge to pursue a career she always suspected was out of reach. ‘”I always thought being an illustrator was one of those pipedreams, something that only three or four people in the country ever got to do,” she said with a laugh.


Next month Gibbs gets a little closer to that pipedream when the picture book Aussie Legends, illustrated by Gibbs and written by Tom Baddeley, hits the shelves. “It’s very exciting,” she says of the release. “But it’s a bit frightening as well, once the book is released, it’s up for judgment and review and that can be pretty intimidating.”


Gibbs was chosen by Baddeley and Fremantle Press to illustrate the book of rhymes on Australian legends, from Ned Kelly and Dame Nellie Melba to Phar Lap. She estimated that she spent about 600 hours working on the illustrations over nine months.


Although this will be the first book with her name on the cover, many readers would be familiar with Gibbs’ work. She spent two-and·a-half years at Fremantle Press, where she concentrated on book covers (including Alice Nelson’s The Last Sky) and design.

Gibbs says book illustration is rarely a solitary pursuit; it requires a collaborative effort between the artist, editor and author. “You can’t be self-indulgent, you can’t just do what you want with illustration, you have to do something that the author is happy with,” she says. “It’s their baby too; it’s something they’ve been thinking of and dreaming about for years and years so you can’t just run away with it and complete something they don’t like.

“Editors and writers have a particular way of seeing things which is quite verbal. , might have a brief that says, ‘this is the direction that we think it should go’ and 80 per cent of the time I pitch a cover that is completely different and the author loves it because it sums up their book visually.”