The LA Artist With An Eye For The Abstract
By Justice Petersen
They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there is one Los Angeles-based artist who happens to be the beholder of not just one eye, but many eyes.
Eyes are the window to the soul, and Rhys Kelly captures a unique soul in every one of her pieces. Kelly, 26, makes jewelry, keychains, and installations all featuring hand-painted images of the human eye. Her eyeball art has been worn and bought by celebrities such as Olivia Rodrigo, David Dobrik and Halsey.
In each piece, Kelly paints a unique eye; no two are the same. Kelly will even make custom works for clients, creating a piece based on the client’s own individual eye color.
“I love making a special one-of-a-kind piece for someone. Putting a smile on someone’s face is my favorite part about what I do,” says Kelly. “Other than making people happy, I love that I somehow turned my passion into my career.”
Kelly has been creating art since she was very young. Before creating statement jewelry to be worn by Charli Damelio and having her name featured in Rolling Stone magazine, Kelly would draw eyeballs in class. In high school, she attended a pre-college program at Oregon College of Art and Craft where she learned metal smithing and jewelry making.
When it comes to what draws her to the human eye, Kelly says she is attracted to the intense details.
“Painting eyeballs is like an active meditation, which involves intense focus in one specific area. Painting eyeballs makes my brain feel calm and focused, releasing my mind from thoughts,” says Kelly. “Also, eyeballs have a lot of spiritual and physical significance in this world.”
Kelly’s pieces from her eyeball collection include necklaces, rings, and installations. These installations are made up of a 24” eyeball on a seemingly “drippy” stand that the hand-painted eyeball is mounted on.
In the future, Kelly plans to create some more unique eyeball works, executing different installation ideas before moving on to other concepts. One day Kelly hopes to craft bigger artworks to be featured in future music festivals and art galleries.
Kelly says she is inspired by other artists, such as Patricia Piccinini, Yoshitomo Nara and Ayo Takano, as well as other forms of media, including photography, music and even Studio Ghibli films.
“I find inspiration everywhere I look, even a trash can!” says Kelly.
As a perfectionist, Kelly says the most difficult part of her work is making every detail perfect.
“Working with miniature eyeball paintings can get really difficult at times because the colors have to be perfect and so does the pupil and everything else about it,” says Kelly.
Every art piece crafted by Kelly is inimitable and special, just like the ones who purchase them – and just like the artist who spends her life intricately creating them. Spending hours on a single piece, a lot of hard work and concentration is involved when making eyeball art for Hollywood’s elite.
The earth’s population is 7.888 billion people. This means there are 7.888 billion different minds, hearts and souls…and pairs of eyes.
“We all have our unique perspectives and views – no one sees life exactly the same way. To me, this is so special,” says Kelly. “I hope that my eyeball art reminds people to have an open mind and embrace the perspectives of others while having the spirit to understand.”
@rhyskellyofficial CAME THROUGH DRIPPIN’ #love #underratedartist #fyp #artist #art #eyeballs #eyes #uniqueart #groovy ♬ Drip – Batu
Rhys Kelly Biography:
Art has always been my best friend, ever since I was younger, art has always brought me to a magical place. Now that I’ve grown up, I feel so blessed to still call art my best friend.
Art flows through me in many ways throughout my life. Dancing, painting, drawing, sculpting, jewelry making, photography, etc. I am constantly evolving and making new artistic creations. I had many different loves before getting into eyeball art. Now that I’m fully focused on painting eyeballs, I have so much to say about them.
I bet you can guess, but I was totally that girl in class doodling eyeballs on her classwork instead of paying attention to the assignment. Drawings eyes has always fascinated me. Each set of eyes tell their own special story – I have always found this super compelling. To me, eyes are the window to the soul, they say so much without saying anything at all. Each living thing with eyeballs has a completely different experience and perspective on the world. My goal with eyeball art is to bring understanding, admiration, awareness and appreciation to all the different perspectives in the world. Reminding us all to have the spirit to understand and love.
Opening the hearts and minds of others.
My eyeball art began once I attended a Special FX trade school in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. I decided to attend this school rather than going to a traditional college because it inspired me and was very hands-on. At this trade school, I was taught how to sculpt creatures and do all sorts of wacky things… We were taught to make prosthetic eyeballs for our creatures, and that’s where my love for eyeball painting began. I couldn’t get enough, and from there I decided to turn my passion into a small business – replicating people’s eye colors and putting them into fine jewelry.
Making eyeball jewelry is great, but I couldn’t stop there! I was feeling super compelled to paint big eyeball pieces for galleries and beautiful homes. This idea has allowed me to start an entirely new avenue for my art which continues to grow and grow everyday. These installation pieces are inspired by nature, colors, mediation, energy, and all sorts of different things.
I feel so grateful for the amount of love and exposure I have received from my eyeball art and I’m excited for what the future holds.