100 Creatives 2012: Jeremy P. Kelley, Kid's Pop Artist
Artist Jeremy P. Kelley admits he made a tiny mistake in choosing his company's name, Liam's Room Art. He named the endeavor after his son Liam, since his was the first room Kelly ever decorated with his work. At the time Liam was Kelley's only child. The trouble is Kelley recently had a daughter, Brennan. So does that mean Liam's Room Art is destined to become Liam and Brennan's Rooms? Or maybe Kelley Kids' Art? Kelly isn't sure, but he knows he'll have to do something to include his daughter's name if he wants to stay on her good side. "She's gonna get ticked off at me, I think, if I don't do something about that," he tells us. Since she's only five months old, he figures he has a little time to think it out.
Kelley entered in the Marine Corps right after high school; a recruiting officer guaranteed he would be stationed in California which appealed to Kelley, who was an avid surfer. He spent two years as a machine gunner before moving over to work with hazardous materials. ("My education officer didn't think there was much of a future for me as a machine gunner outside the military," Kelley deadpans.) After leaving the Marines, Kelley stayed in California for a couple of years. Then he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (cancer of the bone) and returned to Houston for treatment at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. After a year of treatment, surgery and a full knee replacement, Kelley emerged cancer free.
Kelley had been creating art for several years, including painting abstract surfing images, when he set about to decorate his son Liam's room. "I couldn't find any good art for kids," he tells us. "It was just the same old pictures over and over. I found there was just a really big gap in art for kids. So, I decided to give it a shot. My son's room had a space theme and I did some space stuff." Friends and acquaintances quickly began requesting pieces for their children and Kelley found himself with a growing business on his hands.
Over the last year, Kelley has been planning to open a virtual shop online. "I had some reservations. I like talking with my customers and I didn't want it to suddenly feel like it was just a business, and I was just filling orders. So I make it a point, that every time somebody buys a piece of art, I call them and talk to them, thank them."
What he does: "If someone asks me what I do, I tell them I'm a children's artist. I do own an environmental firm, but I have people that run it for me. My main goal is to eventually sell that business and just do art."
What he likes about it: "I enjoy delivering the art the most," he laughs. "I've done collections that weren't my style. I'm not a cowboy, but I've had clients that wanted a western theme with lots of cowboy boots. That's not my taste, but I did it. Then when I delivered it, the kids flipped out over them. That was fun.
"I also love doing donations. I try to do at least a couple a year. I'm doing Saint Rose of Lima and M. D. Anderson's Children's Cancer Center. That's always great, seeing how much the kids love it."
What inspires him: "I wake up at two in the morning and have to write down an idea that I just had. I get inspired so many different way. My last collection was an animal train. My son is obsessed with trains. And I like animals, so I put the two together. It turned out to be very popular."
If not this, then what: "I wish I could play a guitar and sit out there and sing, but I can't, I'm just not musically talented. For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to open up a [restaurant/bar], something that would coffee and sandwiches during the day and then serve wine and good craft beer during the night. My friends and I toss that idea around from time to time, so maybe a little further down the line that will happen."
If not here, then where: "Austin," comes the answer without hesitation. "Houston is growing on me more and more every day, especially the area that we're in, the Gardens Oaks/Oak Forest area, but I think I would like to give Austin a try."
What's next: Kelley has been working on his www.liamsroomart.com website for a year. It still isn't complete, but it's up and running. He's currently looking to open a studio/store front, most likely in the Garden Oaks/Oak Forest area where he can present his work to customers in person. "The website alone doesn't do the work justice, I don't think. People need to see the art in a frame and on the wall to get a real feel for what it is. When people see my work up close, in person, it sells 100 percent faster."
Other than that, Kelley says he doesn't have time for anything else. "Between trying to be a good dad and husband, running my environmental company and being an artist, doing the website and looking for studio space, that's all I can do. I'm not looking for any more projects!"
More Creatives for 2012 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Bear Wilder, Filmmaker, Jewelry Artist, DJ, VJ Antoine Plante, conductor Chuy Benitez, photographer and arts organizer Robin Kachantones, illustrator Libbie J. Masterson, artist, curator and creator Leighza Walker, theater owner, actress, writer, theatrical everywoman Macy Perrone, costume designer Elsa Briggs, Painter, jewelry maker Baldemar Rodriguez, film director/producer and actor Linarejos Moreno, photographer Heather Rainwater, artist, jewelry maker Detria Ward, actress and entrepreneur Justin Cronin, book author Mark Ivy, actor Lauren Luna, painter and shoe designer Sarah Cortez, writer Kent Dorn, drawer, painter, artist Lillian Warren, painter Carl Lindahl, folklorist, UH professor Sutapa Ghosh, film producer and Indian Film Festival of Houston organizer Tom Stell, actor, writer, director Gregory Oaks, teacher and Poison Pen co-founder Oliver Halkowich, dancer and performer Lupe Mendez, poet and poem pusher Jason Nodler, artistic director, playwright, director Ana Treviño-Godfrey, musician Matthew Detrick, classical musician Travis Ammons, filmmaker Florence Garvey, actress Julia Gabriel, artist, designer and backpack maker Rebecca French, choreographer and FrenetiCore co-founder Kiki Neumann, found object folk artist Flynn Prejean, Poster Artist JoDee Engle, dancer David Rainey, actor, artistic director and teacher Geoff Hippenstiel, painter, art instructor Jessica Janes, actress and musician Dennis Draper, actor and director Mat Johnson, novelist and tweeter Orna Feinstein, printmaker and installation artist Adriana Soto, jewelry designer Domokos Benczédi, Noise and Collage Artist Robert Boswell, Book Author, UH Prof Patrick Turk, visual artist Elizabeth Keel, playwright Bob Martin, designer Mary Lampe, short film promoter and developer Nisha Gosar, Indian classical dancer Jeremy Wells, painter George Brock, theater teacher Radu Runcanu, painter Ariane Roesch, Mixed-Media Sandie Zilker, art jewelry maker Philip Hayes, actor Patrick Palmer, painter Ana Mae Holmes, Jewelry Designer John Tyson, actor Jerry Ochoa, violinist and filmmaker Raul Gonzalez, painter, sculptor, photographer Roy Williams, DJ of medieval music Laura Burlton, photographer David Peck, fashion designer Rebecca Udden, theater director Donae Cangelosi Chramosta, vintage designer handbag dealer Paul Fredric, author John Sparagana, photographer Damon Smith, musician and visual artist Geoff Winningham, photographer Johnathon Michael Espinoza, visual artist Jaemi Blair Loeb, conductor Katya Horner, photographer Johnathan Felton, artist Nicoletta Maranos, cosplayer Carol Simmons, hair stylist Joseph "JoeP" Palmore, actor, poet Greg Carter, director Kenn McLaughlin, theater director Justin Whitney, musician Antone Pham, tattoo artist Susie Silbert, crafts Lauralee Capelo, hair designer Marisol Monasterio, flamenco dancer Carmina Bell, promoter and DJ ReShonda Tate Billingsley, writer Kiki Lucas, choreographer and director J.J. Johnston, theater director Mary Margaret Hansen, artist Richard Tallent, photographer Viswa Subbaraman, opera director Emily Sloan, sculptor and performance artist Sonja Roesch, gallery owner Enrique Carreón-Robledo, conductor Sandy Ewen, musician Camella Clements, puppeteer Wade Wilson, gallery owner Magid Salmi, photographer Carl Williams, playwright
Get the Theater Newsletter
Get a rundown of upcoming theater events and ticket deals in Houston.