Illustrator Genna Campton has featured in Peppermint, Notebook and Spook magazines, has exhibited her work in Melbourne and Sydney galleries, and, more recently, illustrated Going Down Swinging’s latest publication: our free-to-access ebook, Essays, Letters, Reflections. We caught up with her ahead of this Thursday’s Melbourne launch.

Like the start of so many Melbourne love stories, illustrator Genna Campton was introduced to GDS at a birthday party in Edinburgh Gardens. After word of her talent got out, the beginnings of a collaboration was born.

“I’d done quite a bit of editorial work before for magazines, but never for a collection of stories,” says Genna. “I was very happy to be asked.”

The ebook, which launches on Thursday, features the best essays, travel writing and reflections on GDS’s past over the website’s three-year history, and also pays tribute – through the illustrations and typography – to the publication’s long and heady relationship with print.

For Genna, working to a brief is a liberating experience that saves her from the dread of the blank canvas.

“My images for the ebook needed to combine ideas from quite a few stories and essays,” she says. “I like that structure from a design point of view: having parameters around where to start. When it’s your own personal work it’s easy to get distracted or lose faith in what you’re doing.”

Essays, by Genna Campton


Reading the anthology gave Genna a combination of visual ideas and moods to work with.

“There are different tones to each piece: some were just emotive and others would bring a stark image to mind.”

Genna’s drawing of a two-faced man for the ‘Essays’ section of the ebook is based on Jenny Sinclair’s work on the life of Queen Victoria’s would-be assassin, Edward Oxford. But, says Genna, “in the same collection of stories there was Matthew Harnett’s piece about modern technology and the ways we were being distracted by it”.

“I liked that juxtaposition.”


Letters, by Genna Campton


Other pieces in the anthology are much more intimate, such as ‘Two People Write Letters to each Other While They are Travelling Even Though, Sometimes, Not a Lot Actually Happens’ by Oliver Mol and Katia Pase.

“Their stories are so beautifully descriptive, but they were also very personal. I wanted to capture the essence of them communicating across the world with each other.”


Reflections, by Genna Campton


Meanwhile, memoirs by Kevin Brophy and Myron Lysenko about the birth of GDS resonated with Genna as a young creative trying to make it in Melbourne.

“I spent five years juggling freelance illustration jobs with Pilates instruction, retail and hospitality, but it was always a struggle to make it work,” she says. Now forging a full-time career in coffee, she’s making peace with her art as an after-hours passion.

“I’m dealing with the idea that I can still do illustration. There’s less pressure to survive from it, so I can pick and choose jobs that I actually enjoy.”


genna campton photo


Download your free copy of Essays, Letters, Reflections here.

Genna Campton’s illustrations feature in Going Down Swinging: Essays, Letters, Reflections, launching in Melbourne this Thursday, August 27. You can also follow her on Instagram.

Matthias McGregor escaped the mean streets of gies-yer-jacket Glasgow and writes with a bottle of fine tonic wine.