All The Bright Moves



The colorful palette isn't the only reason this work is brilliant.

Johnny Kelly is a graphic designer with a very playful design style. At first glance his crayon-colored paper illustrations and films bring to mind Sesame Street animated shorts and Lego. Nowadays we’re so saturated with CGI-generated movies and hyper-real Photoshopped imagery that his penchant for color blocks and stop-motion are refreshingly on the other side of the spectrum.

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Above, left: still image from The Seed; right: Don’t Panic poster illustration

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Above: A paper mask prototype

But it’s Kelly’s two minute short film, The Seed, that is of particular interest. The Seed combines computer graphic illustrations with moving paper constructions in such an entertaining manner that I totally felt like a kid again, in more ways than one. It was just so much fun to watch, as it was a narrative and visual adventure. But as an art director, when I stopped to think about the creation process, I realized that the intricate constructions and complex scene transformations in his work are far from child’s play and reveal very mature design sensibilities… so much so that I felt like I was still in elementary school, wondering when I would be able to create such awe-inspiring work. Take a look:

The Seed

The Seed from Johnny Kelly on Vimeo.

And here is a look behind the scenes:

The making of The Seed:

Making of ‘The Seed’ from Johnny Kelly on Vimeo.

Stop motion animation is painstaking work, and the level of craft Kelly exhibits in The Seed, combining animation as well as a paper sculpture, is definitely inspiring. If you’d like to try your hand at either activity, check out these online introductions and tutorials for stop motion animation, and you can certainly create some similarly colorful, simple constructions using sheets from our Paper By The Piece section.

On a related note, when I look at current graphic design trends and the tendency to pile on more rather than less, it’s refreshing to see such clean, simple graphics. Kelly’s work reminds me of some cards I saw on the racks at our Soho store (different Kate’s Paperie stores will have different stocks on hand, so availability will vary), featuring designs by a Scandinavian company called Boda. Although a little more rounded in their linework, these cards have a similar penchant for solid blocks of color and very playful design:

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For more on Johnny Kelly’s work, visit his website, or take a look at his showreel here.

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George G., Creative Director At Large, is a New York-based art director whose work spans everything from store display to interactive media. Also an accomplished artist, his illustrations have been published and exhibited in various galleries in New York. Being a self-professed design junkie, he is constantly on the lookout for what’s new and fresh in the worlds of art and design.

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