Blakely was born in Canterbury in 1968 and developed an interest in art from an early age. He studied illustration at Wimbledon School of Art and completed his degree at Kingston University shortly after which he became a professional illustrator. During this time his clients included The Body Shop, British Telecom and Cable and Wireless and he was chosen to paint two front covers for the world renowned author of ‘Schindler’s List’, Thomas Keneally.
At the same time, he and his wife Gail set up and curated their own shows in London, leading to a solo display in the Thomas Kettle Gallery in Covent Garden. The show, entitled ‘Do not Disturb’, explored genetic manipulation and its effects on its patients. The entire collection showed an increasing interest in physicality and lighting that were to become the hallmarks of his later work.