Not everyone is so fortunate to combine her passions into one creative project, but Kelly Self can be counted among the lucky few. Her artistic rendition of Georgia College’s mascot, Thunder the Bobcat, caught the eye of the College administration, who initiated discussions about bringing the unique design to students and alumni.
Self majored in art and minored in psychology at Georgia College and has combined the two for her current graduate studies in art therapy on the charming, 43-acre Milledgeville campus. An opportunity to participate in an alumni art exhibit in September sent Self’s creative juices flowing, resulting in her abstract submission. “I worked to create a design that represented the school mascot in my own artistic style,” Self said.
Her imaginative “Artsy Bobcat” became the talk of the show, even piquing the interest of the Georgia College President, Dr. Steve M. Dorman. Interested in making the design widely available, the College’s marketing department began to work with the college bookstore team to create limited-edition merchandise to sell in the store.
“Barnes & Noble College has always been about local empowerment, so when the college asked if we could do this, I knew I could say yes,” said Georgia College Bookstore Manager Barresa Adams. “I wasn’t certain at the time how we’d proceed, but I knew I’d have the support of the home office, who worked with me to ensure that I found the best vendors at the best price to accommodate the school’s wishes.”
The eye-catching “Artsy Bobcat” design was incorporated into t-shirts, coffee mugs and prints, and was unveiled the week of Homecoming. During Homecoming’s Tent City — what Adams describes as a “huge celebratory tailgate,” Self had a print-signing in the bookstore tent. “She was really excited,” Adams reported. “As an alumni and a graduate student at Georgia College, she has a lot of school spirit.”
Moreover, Self was raised in the college town of Milledgeville, making the connection to the school all the deeper. “I grew up with Georgia College. For this project, I worked to create a design that represented the school mascot in my own artistic style,” she explained. “This was just great — I’d love to do more for other colleges if I had the opportunity.”
While Georgia College has worked with scores of talented artists and graphic designers to place its marks on merchandise, working with an artist with such longstanding ties to the school was a special experience.
“Georgia College collaborates with many graphic designers for merchandise at our Barnes & Noble at Georgia College Bookstore, but to work alongside Kelly, who is an alumna and current graduate student, was a great honor for the store and the university,” said Brittiny Johnson, manager of media relations and college spokesperson for Georgia College. “To bring this engaged student’s artistry to current students and alumni as well as the campus and community was a privilege and an honor.”
Self said it was a wonderful way to collaborate with her college and to connect with others through art. “The first time I saw the merchandise with my design I was so excited,” she stated. “I took photos and uploaded them on Facebook to show my friends. I never could have imagined my artwork being used in this way, but I’m feeling great about it.”