Gary Kelley received his degree in art from the University of Northern Iowa. He began his career as a graphic designer and art director before becoming an illustrator in the mid-1970s. He has received awards from the New York Society of Illustrators, the National Booksellers Association, Print Magazine, the New York Art Directors Show, the Los Angeles Society of Illustrators, the Bologna Book Fair (Italy), and others. His clients include The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Playboy, Atlantic Monthly, Time, Newsweek, GQ, Franklin Library, CBS Records, the NFL, the Santa Fe Opera, and many others.
In addition to his professional work, he has lectured at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, the Society of Illustrators, the San Francisco Academy of Art, Ringling School of Art, and Syracuse University, to name just a few.