Gary Kelley

Gary Kelley
Gary Kelley is a well-known American Illustrator with a long list of impressive clients, including Time, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, and numerous agencies and design firms.

He has received 27 gold or silver medals from the Society of Illustrators in New York, and was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 2007.

He created the two 70-foot murals for the dramatic Barnes and Noble bookstore at 5th Avenue and 48th Street in New York, has lectured at numerous art schools across the U.S. and is joining the faculty of the Hartford Illustration MFA program.

Kelley has illustrated several picture books, including classics like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Rip Van Winkle, and Poe’s Tales of Mystery.

Kelley does not maintain his own web site as far as I can tell, but he has a portfolio on the Richard Solomon site. Unfortunately, the new Solomon site is designed in a way that doesn’t permit the bookmarking of individual artist’s sections (What were they thinking?), so I have to direct you to the home page, and tell you to click on “Illustrators” link at top left, that just looks like a heading (What were they thinking?) and pop out the hidden menu (What were they thinking?) and find him in the list to see his portfolio (What? Were they thinking?).

There is a sort of pop-up menu of thumbnails at the bottom that you have to do some mouse gymnastics to get out of your way so you can see the whole picture. There are links at the top to a bio and case study.

Kelley has a strong geometric style, obviously informed by an admiration for Cubism in general and Picasso in particular. He has a remarkable ability to handle complex scenes with multiple figures and faces; and not only fill them with expressive human qualities, but focus your eye unerringly to the particular face or faces that he wants you to see. He does this without overt tricks of lighting, or blatant splashes of color; but instead using subtle control of value, color and composition, all within his intricate grid of geometrically defined shapes.

His palette varies from muted to bright, depending on the demands of the subject, and his colors are augmented with the deft application of texture, both in subjects and backgrounds. He also has a great knack for creating portraits that are stylized without being caricatures.

The Illustration Academy has a page devoted to Kelly, with a short bio, some (unfortunately small) images, and two interesting slide shows of demos he gave at the Academy, one in colored pencil, the other in pastel.


11 Replies to “Gary Kelley”

  1. That was so Art Deco that I was surprised to see he’s a modern-day artist! I can see it now, I think, in the more realistic faces and the way he plays with angle and perspective. But damn.

  2. For what it’s worth,

    Gary Kelley is represented by Richard Solomon.
    Richard’s building was the building in NYC that was crushed by the crane a few days ago.
    (and by crushed, I mean pulverized.)
    Along with the building, a LOT of original paintings have been destroyed.
    Richard had one painting from each artist he represents, often times their BEST piece…
    including works by Gary Kelley, Greg Manchess, Jim Bennett, and dozens more.
    The backup transparencies for these paintings have also been destroyed.

    They have set up a temporary site to work out of, so it should not affect current business TOO much…
    but the loss is staggering.

  3. Yes, Gary is a great talent and one terrific guy. He recently did a series of twenty-something paintings (primarily oils) inspired by the seven movements in Gustav Holst’s THE PLANETS. Timed to the music of the live orchestra, the production was phenomenal. In fact, in a few days I’ll be moderating a panel in which Gary and the other artists on that project discuss the endeavor. If you’re close to Cedar Falls, join us! See more at (best viewed in Firefox).

  4. I am trying to locate a print by Gary Kelley showing a woman holding an apple behind her while looking at her friend sitting on a chair. Could someone email me and let me know if they know where I can find this print.Thank You!!

  5. I have the print your looking for, I call it “Adam and Eve” but would love to know the real name if anyone knows it. I bought mine at M J designs in Texas

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