Living a little with Tracey English

Very colorful illustrations make me happy and meeting the creator of these colorful creations made me very happy as well. I met Tracey English in a lovely store where we sat down to create a big paper mess on the table.

Tracey’s profile picture Photo: Tracey English

After the meeting with An I made sure I checked out how Tracey English looks to make sure I would recognize her. Because well: this is her image that I have been connecting to the name Tracey during all the communication before the meet up. To me she was a lady with a heart shaped mouth, a beanie , a cat and a dog. But I am glad I checked out her Facebook, because she left her beanie, cat and dog at home and had put her glasses on!

A work created by Tracey. Photo:


Tracey English is a friendly lady who creates the most colorful collages from tissue paper that she hand paints. With some scissors she quickly cuts the paper in all kinds of shapes and under her hands a bright illustration often gets formed. Tracey’s paper creations can be found as patterns on kitchen wear, drinking cartons for kids and on pillows etc. She is currently working on a 100-day project where she creates a piece every day, in just half an hour!

Anne and I went to Paperchase Tottenham Court Rd where Tracey would meet us. What a beautiful store, full of things that make me greedy. A lot of stationary and art supplies… and flamingos! People that know me, know about my love for flamingo’s. But let’s go back to Tracey, she was so friendly. She got us some tea and we settled down. Actually because of the wonderful weather, which made it too hot to sit next to the window, we had to move.

Both creating our own thing. Photo: Anne Neijnens


When Tracey got her stuff out, her books caught my attention immediately. Wow, they looked so cool and used. Tracey works with tissue paper which the paints in different colors. For her daily project she created a whole alphabet. I’ve seen these on the social media accounts I am following. But seeing them in real life was awesome! The book could barely close, since the many paper images and glue made the pages all thicker and wobbly. While looking at all those lovely works, I realized it was quite special that I got to see these in person. ‘Nobody ever sees these in person’, she confirmed later. Lucky me again! Another thing is that she normally doesn’t do this in public, so another win!

The books contained all kinds of illustrations. Objects, flowers and animals. All made with colorful paper pieces in a very unique style. One of the books caught even more of my attention when I recognized ‘The girl with the pearl earring’. She told me she went on a holiday to the Netherlands (very good idea!) and she didn’t bring any materials with her. Since she was on holiday she didn’t really expect to create new stuff. But -as I can imagine- while being on this trip and seeing all the new things, she wanted to create and to capture her time abroad. She bought a book and magazines. Using the pages and the tickets for museums she created things like boats, Delftware, windmills and the famous houses from Amsterdam. So cool! Isn’t it great how the urge to create is so big that she bought magazines right away and started making these cool pieces?

The girl made with improvised materials. Photo: Carmen Groenefelt


First Tracey used to make beautiful scarves, when she was studying. But later she wanted to try something new and the started making the paper works. What she did tell me is that it is hard work to get some proper income from working as an artist (hey, this is a message that keeps coming back I think) and that it is also hard to get yourself out there, since there is a lot of concurrence. The work she made in my Traveling Sketchbook quotes ‘Live a little’. This is a lesson she still tries to learn. She’d like to be a little less shy. She also admires that I just dared to ask for a meet up and she’d like to set herself more in the spotlight as an artist.


A good thing is that people see her snipping’s on social media and they are responding to it! The alphabet was a great thing to make. Next to the alphabet with animals she was still working on when I met her, she later made an alphabet with fruits and vegetables. These end up as a cool poster and she might get some clients out of these great works. I find it very hard to create work every day. My 365-daily-illustrations project stranded. Lack of time because of uni, but mostly lack of discipline. She just spends 30 minutes every day on this project and next to the cute works she get out of it, she also has some cool stuff to share online and works on her skills. So if you would like to get better in something or there is something you really like: just do it. Live a little. Do it every day, just a little!

After our really nice chat with some English tea in a teapot and with the risk she would dip her brush in her coffee instead of her cup of glue, Tracey told me she had to go home to do mom things. With sons and one doing exams, she has a whole other big job to fulfill. She did recommend me going to a bookstore and we would stay in touch.

Tracey in her not so natural habitat. Photo: Carmen Groenefelt


When I was at the bookstore, which was a very big one that made me feel like a kid in the kids book section, she let me know that she actually had a gift for me that she completely forgot to bring. So when I was back home in The Netherlands I received some mail from London. I got a tea towel with a pink pattern of her illustration, some very cute greeting cards and a card that said that she liked meeting me and that I can always stay at here place once I am in London. I think I don’t have to tell you how warm and friendly Tracey is and how much I loved meeting her.

Tracey’s work, just like the other works in the Traveling Sketchbook, will not be shown completely. But here you can see a part. You will be able to see the full creation during the Traveling Sketchbook exhibition. But that will take place after I had some more travels in the search for more of these inspiring stories.



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