Who is Kelsey Montague?
Kelsey Montague is an American mural artist who is known for her wing-inspired artworks on the walls of major cities like New York and Buenos Aires. The New York-based painter, who hails from a family of artists, was quite young when she started painting. The well-travelled muralist, who loves to incorporate her experiences into her work, has emerged as one of the most admired artists on social media. One of the biggest reasons behind her popularity among the younger generation is that she encourages them to express themselves on social media through her art. Her artworks have found mentions in several notable publications like ‘Forbes’ and ‘Mashable’. Her work received further recognition when celebrities like Taylor Swift and Kendall Jenner posed with her murals. Kelsey runs her own art brand, where trade enquiries related to her murals can be made. Her brand’s website not showcases her artworks and tells the stories behind them, but also serves as her blog space.
After finishing her schooling, Kelsey Montague set out on a journey to explore art around the world. She travelled across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Oceania before exhibiting her works in Florence, London, Boulder and New York. Later, she began her career with the global communications and advertising company, 'Saatchi & Saatchi.' She was next hired as an event development manager at the 'Urban Girl Squad,' a social group for young women, willing to meet new people and explore new places in New York City.
In May 2011, Kelsey and her business partner started a business venture called 'Hidden Baby.' The brand offered a range of hand-made women’s purses, featuring intricate designs with a hidden baby’s picture. The profit from the sale of these unique handbags went to a charitable trust for needy children. After leaving 'Hidden Baby' in December 2013, Kelsey co-founded 'Nikita & Vesper,' an online boutique that offered a wide range of products for women. She also served as the organization’s creative director.
Despite being highly talented and deeply creative, Kelsey faced several rejections from art galleries. She soon realized that going from gallery to gallery with her drawing book was not going to work in modern times. Hence, she turned to social media to share her thoughts and ideas with a wider audience. The overwhelming response that she received there provided her with the much-needed motivation, while also changing the way she looked at her prospects as an artist.
Kelsey began to work on her brainchild the 'Kelsey Montague Art Brand’ while she was still part of 'Nikita & Vesper’. She left the retail company in January 2015 to fully focus on her new brand. Meanwhile, two of her adult colouring books were published by 'HarperCollins', and a limited-edition jacket designed by her was launched by 'Gap & Red.'
Kelsey premiered her first range of mural art in Argentina. Her work, part of the 'What Lifts You' or 'Apuntá Alto' event by Altos del Plata wine, was meant to bring people together and boost the culture of public art. She invited people to click photographs with her famous wing-art and post it on social media with the hashtag '#whatliftsyou.' Thousands of people joined the trend and started sharing their pictures with Kelsey's wing art, painted on the street walls of Buenos Aires, not far from the ‘School of Law’.
The talented artist has found mentions in 'Forbes,' 'MTV,' 'Buzzfeed,' 'Refinery 29,' and 'Mashable.' Celebrities such as Taylor Swift and Vanessa Hudgens too have come forward to popularize her works. Taylor Swift's picture, taken in front of Kelsey's angel wing mural in New York's Nolita neighbourhood, received millions of likes online. Similarly, Kendall Jenner's picture in front of the Winter Wonderland-inspired wings, taken during 'Coachella', went viral on social media.
Her dream is to paint wings in the Vatican. She also wants to work for the 'Mars One' project and display her creativity by painting on the spacecraft's exterior someday.
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Family & Personal Life
Kelsey Montague was born on October 4, 1985 in Colorado. She has been drawing since the age of five, and her love for art has been passed down from generation to generation. Her mother is a watercolourist, while her grandfather was a painter and jewellery maker. Kelsey has a sister called Courtney, who is her business partner and the operations director of her art brand. She looks after the company's clientele, PR, new launches and the on-site logistics.
Kelsey’s very first portrait was of her father at a baseball game, which her mother has kept like a souvenir. Kelsey won the best junior art award for her interactive but controversial wall art that represented the antagonistic relationships among some of the student groups in her high school. In the senior year, she again bagged the outstanding graduate in art, design and media award. In 2006, she majored in art history from the 'University of Colorado Boulder.' Later, she studied art, design, media and combined studies at the 'Richmond University - The American International University in London’. At Richmond, she earned an American Bachelor of Arts degree (summa cum laude) and a British Bachelor of Arts degree with first class honours.
Kelsey's love for wing-art comes from her grandfather whose paintings often featured birds. In her early days, she spent hours in finding birds in each of his works, which gave a spiritual angle to his creations. Years later, when Kelsey created her first wing-inspired street art, she realized that it was exactly what she wanted to continue doing. Her other source of inspiration is the Australian sculptor Ron Mueck. She was inspired by the artist's determination to turn his passion into a profitable business. Following into his footsteps, she began to create her interactive murals and popularize them on social media.