For the past year, Tracy Dobbins has been crafting an idea. An idea that entailed incorporating her art into the city of Memphis while also encouraging creativity. That’s when “Color Me Memphis” came to life. A Memphis inspired coloring book page, Dobbins wanted something that kids and adults could enjoy and recognize. She designs and draws the pages herself, with recognizable faces and images like Jerry Lawler, the Pyramid, and the Mid-South Coliseum. Pick up one of these pages in coffee shops or various locations around town.
C901: What made you want to start Color Me Memphis?
TD: “I have a degree in art, but like so many other creative types, art isn’t how I make a living. I found myself in a bit of an artistic rut because after working all day it can be difficult to find the energy to go into the studio and be productive. I was also a little bored with the idea of creating art just to be sold and then viewed by only a select few people. I wanted a project that would encourage creativity, be accessible to a wide array of people, and incorporate a large dose of playfulness.”
C901: What all does Color Me Memphis entail?
TD: “It is a very hand-crafted, low tech operation. Each month I have a different Memphis-inspired coloring book page. I draw the design by hand, scan the drawing, and then do final layout on my computer. Then I print the pages and spend one day a month assembling them into pads. In a world full of mass-produced goods and digital media, I think it’s refreshing to come in contact with anything created by hand. The pads get distributed around town to random places like coffee shops, telephone poles, etc.”
C901: How do you come up with what to create for the coloring book page?
TD: “I’m inspired by just living in Memphis and taking notice of the little things that make the city unique. I love older buildings, hand-painted signs, and the fact that you can get great Asian food at gas stations.”
C901: What do you hope to accomplish with Color Me Memphis?
TD: “I hope to provide a healthy serving of creativity and silliness into people’s lives. There is no reason that coloring should only be for kids. A lot of people are intimidated by the notion of being creative because they think they lack the technical skills, but art doesn’t need to be technically perfect to be enjoyable. I love seeing the inventive things children do when coloring or drawing. We should all be that fearless and free.”
C901: What do you like best about living in the city of Memphis?
TD: “I love that Memphis revels in its grittiness and imperfections. It’s a city that is not afraid to color outside the lines.”