Robert Ingpen, illustrator, designer, writer and consultant, was born in Geelong in 1936. He was educated in Geelong before studying art and illustration under Harold Freedman at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, 1955-58. Early in his career he specialised in relating design to scientific research, and this included work as a graphic design artist for the CSIRO, 1958-67, commissions for designing pamphlets on fisheries for the United Nations in Mexico and Peru, and involvement in a number of Australian conservation and environmental projects. He launched into freelance work in 1968.
Ingpen's work has focused on environmental and heritage issues and his exploration of fantasy and imagination. He is best known as an illustrator, and as an author of children's books, and historical books and pamphlets for adults. He has painted murals on public buildings, designed the flag and coat of arms for the Northern Territory, and designed postage stamps, including stamps for the Captain Cook Bicentenary and the 50th anniversary of CSIRO. He has been involved in a number of conservation and environmental projects, including the establishment of the Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement as consultant/designer. He was one of the founders of the Australian Conservation Foundation.
Ingpen rose to prominence with his illustrations for Colin Thiele's classic children's story Storm Boy, winning for him the first Visual Arts Board award for children's book illustration. He won the international Hans Christian Anderson Medal for children's literature in 1986, and the Dromkeen Medal in 1989.
Robert Ingpen, celebrated Geelong artist, was commissioned to paint a mural to be located above the entrance of the new west wing. The mural was designed to represent the objects and systems that characterise Geelong and its district and that played a major role in the city’s growth and development. The three systems comprise: the natural (producing) system; the man-made or technological system, and the natural (trading) system.