Arts council has new logo thanks to Kelly

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BRATTLEBORO — Dummerston resident Michael Kelly answered the Arts Council of Windham County's call for an updated logo. He won the contest with a multi-colored graphic denoting the diversity of people who participate in the area's arts community, a community more diverse than most, Kelly said.

Accomplished in a 20-year career as an art director, designer, theater artist, and performer in New York City, plus co-founder of Inkfish, a visual theater company, Kelly and his partner and Inkfish co-founder, Alyssa Mello made Vermont their permanent residence last January.

Schooled in illustration after attending the University of South Carolina as a liberal arts major and studying graphic design at the School of Visual Arts, he also made a career as a freelance graphic designer when not performing in New York and Europe with Inkfish. When he saw the notice online he viewed it as an opportunity to meet the local art community.

"I'm looking to establish my business more locally with the many small businesses. I love to do brand development and love working with mom and pop stores," he said. And logo development is right up his alley, having done many for pharmaceutical companies among others, citing his favorites as the ones he did for Coby Electronics and Jetson Electric Bikes abiding by his mantra of simple is better.

He said he loves the problem-solving aspect of creating logos, to take a story and distill it to tell the whole story. "I rarely do this sort of work for free, but I wanted to get my name known here," he said. He submitted two designs, with the ACWC choosing the final design making only minor adjustments.

He said the challenge in this logo was to include all types of art, something that was important to ACWC to use as promotion, making it a busier than logos he usually creates, but he said the various colors made it work. "I did my homework."

He did receive a few perks; he got free tickets to the Latchis Theatre, dinner at T.J. Buckley's, and the best one, according to Kelly, was becoming a Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce member.

Moving to the Brattleboro area last winter was not just happenstance. His first job out of college was making props and performing, integrating him into the puppet theater world where he met Mello, a theater scholar. That led to meeting people from the National Marionette Theatre in Brattleboro who asked him to audition. He lived here for three years and fell in love with it, loving the vibe.

But New York City called when he was offered an opportunity to become part of Jim Henson's Muppets talent pool. He established himself as a freelance designer and in 2004 co-founded Inkfish with Mello and Brian Snapp based in Queens that uses traditional design combined with new technologies as an integral storytelling component, receiving several production grants over the years from the Jim Henson Foundation.

Not even 9/11 ran him out after experiencing firsthand the panic as the buildings collapsed and people covered in white dust running down 6th Avenue. He said that it was actually a bonding experience among New Yorkers. It wasn't until two life-changing events within two weeks of each other made him rethink his lifestyle: a major health scare and news of becoming a new dad. He knew he needed to slow down. He bought a house in Dummerston and moved his family of now four.

Although Inkfish and his graphic design company are still based in New York, he is looking to establish them here as well and becoming engaged in the artistic community. Winning the contest has already garnered him a job in a collaborative production of an audio tour of famous literary landmarks in the area.

ACWC will officially unveil the new logo over the next couple of months.

To check out more of Kelly's graphic work, visit mikekellyart.com, and to check out his theatrical work, visit inkfishart.com.

For Kelly, he just said, "I'm happy to be here."

Cicely M. Eastman may be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 261


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