Local artist sells her art in Bealls stores across Florida

Local artist Kelly Hunt recently signed a deal to sell her art with Florida-based retailer Bealls, which operates more than 600 stores around the state.

“After nine years of establishing myself in the local art community, it’s really fun to be featured,” said Hunt. “I’m grateful to Bealls for putting me on the map.”

Hunt’s art has been featured in Longboat Key’s Driftwood Beach Home and Garden and is available for purchase there too. 

She grew up on Anna Maria Island, which is one of her biggest inspirations when it comes to her art. Her grandmother was a watercolor artist and encouraged her to use art as a way to express herself.

“I’m a perfectionist, but with art I allow myself not to be,” said Hunt. “My grandma was always like art is in the eye of you.”

Due to her love for the coastal lifestyle, Hunt was drawn to gyotaku art which is a Japanese art form that began as a way for fishermen to keep a record of the fish they caught. Hunt applies acrylic paint to fish she or her family caught and then will place it on fabric to create an exact replica of it. 

Kelly Hunt’s art

Photo by Petra Rivera

Hunt started doing this right before the COVID-19 pandemic. She now teaches classes on it in the Florida Maritime Museum.

“Teaching gyotaku art makes me so happy because everyone can be creative with it even if you’re the least creative person on the planet,” said Hunt. “ Your fish is always going to look good and if not then you can fix it by adding your own touches and colors. You can’t have a bad fish.”

Since getting into gyotaku, Hunt started experimenting with different art forms. She has expanded from gyotaku to prints, puzzles, clothing, towels and home decor. She describes her style as modern, coastal and colorful. 

Hunt also makes custom pieces and does private classes for anyone in the area. One of her staples is designing maps of the area with partners who sell her art highlighted. She recently made a map for Bradenton Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau highlighting different locations of Bradenton. 

Kelly Hunt’s design will be sold on towels in Bealls stores across Florida.

Courtesy image

Hunt is also passionate about encouraging people to make art. She makes different interactive products so that people can paint with her designs such as coloring pages and paintable postcards.

Hunt said that she has worked hard to build connections and establish her reputation in the area. 

After meeting a buyer from Bealls on Anna Maria Island, they fell in love with her coastal designs and asked if she would be interested in designing towels for them. 

Her towel designs are sold in Bealls stores across Florida and have already sold out in some of the local stores. She shared that discussion for her next Bealls products is already underway. Hunt loves the focus Bealls puts on local artists and how it gives people a way to support them. 

“It’s cool that they want to have a perspective of a local person,” said Hunt. “We’ve lived here and we know the all culture. It’s neat to be able to create and design different patterns that will really represent us, instead of it being someone from another place.” 

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