We wish to make beautiful things that are built to last and that have meaning. We believe in living lives of higher quality through creative expression and sharing what we’ve made. We also want to encourage everybody to do the same. Bell & Beacon and Bell & Beacon Society was created to do just that.
We believe in supporting the Maine economy and providing production opportunities to local artisans, craftspeople and manufacturers as much as we possibly can. If it’s not made here in Maine, it’s made in New England or at least in the United States. Sourcing from local/U.S. businesses can help us keep our businesses thriving.
We are Mainers who love the sea, the land, ideas and exploring new ways to live a more meaningful life through creativity. Being more aware, observing our surroundings and daily life, and understanding the rich history of where we live help us find creative meaning and draw inspiration from the small and seemingly mundane to the grandest of things.
We like to draw, write, sketch, doodle and play, and are enamored with old type.
We founded Bell & Beacon in 2017, but the idea for it was born many years ago in Portland, Maine, where we live and create. ‘Bell’ refers to a signal bell atop an oceanic channel/navigation marker buoy. ‘Beacon’ refers to the visible beam of light from a guiding light source, usually from a lighthouse. Both have been used for centuries around the world to help guide vessels navigating in foggy, dark, and stormy weather along a potentially treacherously rocky coast. Casco Bay and the surrounding coast has many of both navigation buoys and light houses, including Portland Head Light – completed and first lit in 1791, and still in use, it is one of the most celebrated and photographed coastal beacons in the world today. On foggy evenings we can usually hear the gong of a bell in the harbor, and see the glow of one of the nearby beacons from where we live by the Portland harbor waterfront.
There’s always something to explore wherever you live and wherever you are. There is always here, at 43º N 70º W, and we’re just getting started.
Who We Are
Kenneth T. Murphy
Artist, Designer, Concept Developer, Founder
Kenneth T. Murphy lives in Portland, Maine, is a Maine coast native and has been producing many forms of art and design since he was a young child. He is a sculptor, craftsman, graphic designer, creative director, outdoorsman and adventurer and has many fields of study interests including biology and marine biology, to name a few. His passion for vintage-meets-contemporary art and design concepts has inspired him to create many forms of physical and visual expression.
Murphy is inspired by life on Casco Bay and believes in endless exploration and learning to inspire his creativity. He has a vast knowledge of the history of the Maine coast and a love for reinventing how we look at things – past or current, large or small. With this passion and influence guiding him, Murphy’s aesthetic is timeless and can appear effortless, yet edgy enough to feel current. His work tell can tell a story in an instant – being felt or understood on a visceral level as if familiar, perhaps tied to fond memories or past experiences that intrigue us.
Murphy has an education and background in art, design, the study and history of typography, and hand-made signage. Ken has a purist’s approach to his design aesthetic – adhering to foundations of composition and formal conventions of typography – while also being wrought with the elemental nuance of being hand-made, or maintaining the ‘human element’, which is part of his signature style of rustic-refinement.
Murphy is the founder of Bell & Beacon and the Bell & Beacon Society. He is also the founder and owner of Murphy Empire Design, an award-winning graphic design studio in Portland’s Old Port, established in 2007. He is president of the Empire Reindeer Christmas Club, a charity organization established in 1897 that hosts a private annual red-carpet gala to benefit the Toys for Tots foundation.
“There is beauty everywhere, no matter how light or dark – even in the smallest, most seemingly mundane things – no matter where you are or live. All you need to do is look.”
Holly Gordon Murphy
Concept Developer, Designer, Co-founder
Holly lives in Portland, Maine, and is a Maine coast native who is passionate about the ocean, coast and where she lives. She loves exploring and finding creative inspiration any way she can in her unique urban/coastal environment. She sketches ideas and writes daily about her discoveries, whether it is food from a new local restaurant or a ferry ride to one of the islands or walking around, observing the daily goings-on. Holly loves to play tourist in her own city – approaching each journey as if it was for the first time, which she says keeps her in the moment and helps her see things she hadn’t noticed before, from the everyday, seemingly smallest or simplest things to how the sunrise over the bay can change depending on the time of year.
Before Bell & Beacon, Holly was an ultrasound technician at a local hospital and before that, she was a stay at home mom with two kids. She loves getting outside and sharing time with friends and family.
“Why do we want to make beautiful things that are made here and built to last? Why do we not want to make cheap, flimsy things that are going to be thrown away and add more garbage to the world? Because we can.”