Meet Rebecca Davis: Adelaide Fringe’s 2024 Poster Winner

Thu, Oct 5 2023
Each year Adelaide Fringe calls out to artists across the globe to design a poster that will become the face of Australia’s biggest arts festival. With a $6000 cash prize up for grabs thanks to Lumo Energy SA, as well as free registration to hold a show at Adelaide Fringe, the competition attracts hundreds of keen artists and designers looking to take the next step in their careers.
Rebecca Davis 2024 poster winner stands in front of her design. She is wearing a fluorescent green shirt and colourful skirt.
2024 Poster winner, Rebecca Davis. Photo: Jenny Kwok
The Poster Competition has catapulted the careers of artists into the mainstream with winners going on to have sell-out exhibitions and establishing sustainable careers as artists. It’s also attracted the likes of already established artists such as Pro Hart and Driller Jet Armstrong. 

Rebecca Davis has won the Adelaide Fringe Poster Competition for 2024 with her artwork ‘All In’ which showcases the diversity within Adelaide Fringe. 

From growing up and attending school and highschool in Adelaide, Rebecca went on to study at the University of South Australia School of Art at Underdale Campus from 1985, graduating in 1989 before undertaking further study with a Diploma of Visual Communication at Design College Australia in Brisbane in 2001-2002. 

An artist with decades of experience, Rebecca now works as a graphic designer and communicator in Brisbane, Queensland and has always had a love of Adelaide Fringe. 

What does Adelaide Fringe represent to you? 
Fringe represents a freedom to participate, watch or wander. It’s often cheeky, lively and surprising. It’s an opportunity for artists to perform, test new material, be seen and get paid for their efforts. It’s accessible and collaborative - anyone can get involved. And the long summer evenings and atmosphere just bring people together.

How did you first discover Adelaide Fringe?
I grew up in Adelaide and I think I discovered the Fringe in my late high school years/early art school days. And when I worked at the Experimental Art Foundation (now Open ACE) before and after the purpose-built Lion Arts Centre was developed, there were always shows on at the venues there, too.

Tell us who you are and the style of work you make?
I’m many things - a co-parent to two wonderful teenagers, a graphic designer and an artist. I have a Bachelor of Visual Arts from the University of Adelaide and attended the Underdale campus at the time. You might say I’ve taken a gap of a decade (or three) from a daily visual art practice, until Covid - then I had heaps of time to play and I did loads of online art courses. I have many styles because I love creating: printmaking, collage, drawing, painting with gouache, watercolour, ink and about 11 months ago I started oil painting. I like a bit of silliness and humour and I like making things with my hands.

Have you attended Adelaide Fringe before and if so, what is your fondest memory? 
It’s been a while - timing my visits back to Adelaide with the Fringe has been tricky. But I can recall Stomp in the early 90s - such an experience, those drums! Amazing skills, mesmerising performance.

Where did the inspiration of all the animals come from?

I had already started dabbling in collage and then I did this terrific online class during Covid - it was lighthearted and looked fun. It brought me so much joy. About 6 months later I decided to commit to the 100 day challenge on Instagram. Every day for 100 days you commit to your art practice and choose a theme. I chose to create simple characters. I covered a range of subjects to keep things interesting including dogs, budgies, and then I explored bringing inanimate objects to life (a corkscrew and other household objects) – then all my animal characters appeared. So many! And they took me to the finish line of my 100 days.

What prompted you to submit an entry into the Adelaide Fringe Poster Competition?
I’ve been entering the Fringe competition for a few years now. It challenges me creatively and it’s different to the graphic work I do in my full-time job, and I love that anyone can enter! There’s such a great range of entries every time.

Can you talk us through your poster for Adelaide Fringe and the inspiration behind it?
The 2024 competition theme was ‘Art unlimited’. I had used a few of my characters in past entries and decided to introduce some I hadn’t used. The poster is a celebration of collaborative characters - kooky, passionate and committed - ‘All In’ is the poster title. The ‘spotlights’ are a nod to theatre, their overlapping colour mixing, acknowledging the visual arts and the juggling balls double up as performance skills and musical notes. The black piano keys could be a step to a new career. 

What are you currently working on as an artist?
My current obsession is oil painting - portraits right now. I’ve done about a dozen so far. I never learned painting at art school. I did some acrylic painting when I was 15 - I even have a newspaper clipping of John Olsen (a judge) standing next to my painting when it was selected as a State finalist for the National Art Award. This year a portrait of my dad was a finalist in the Dean Cogle Art Prize and a self portrait is currently hanging in the Brisbane Portrait Prize Salon des Refusés in Brisbane until 29 October.

Have you always been an artist?

Yes. I was always drawing, building and making things as a kid. My parents enrolled my sister and I at Ruth Tuck Art School and I loved it. At 16 I started to help out with teaching and continued while studying at art school. Even though there’s been this hiatus of daily practice in my life, I’ve filled it with rich experiences. And all the courses and daily practice through Covid gave me momentum. It all feeds into the way I see and think about things - I’ve always been curious, I’m an avid reader and am interested in ideas and perspectives.

What does it mean to you to have your artwork as a major part of the branding for Australia's biggest arts festival in 2024?
I’m honoured and thrilled for this incredible opportunity to share my work. And I’m so excited for it to play a hugely significant visual part of the 2024 Adelaide Fringe and that it’s happening in my home town is really special. I hope people enjoy it and that it makes a huge contribution to the atmosphere and the success of the shows.

What are your ambitions and aspirations as an artist?
Do more of what I love and what brings me joy. Make time for my practice and create a dedicated space - the kitchen table is not cutting it! I feel good when I’m creating - when I’m brave I see myself more clearly. I’d love a mentor for my oil painting especially with portraits - there’s a lot of experimenting and learning to do. Hmmm - I’d love to win the Archibald Prize one day. Digitally, I’d love to animate my work. And I’ve got a children’s book layout drafted - on the ‘to finish’ pile. I would love to design my own fabrics too - I come from a sewing lineage. 

If you were to ever put on your own Fringe show, what would it be? 
Well there’s a good chance collage would be involved. Something quirky and colourful. Perhaps a range of limited edition prints. Maybe even some projected animations or an online class could be fun too?

To see more of Rebecca's art, follow her on Instagram.