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Meet The Artist: Kelsey Montague

By | [email protected] | June 27, 2016 8:00am


Street artist Kelsey Montague, premiered her first mural in Argentina. “What Lifts You,” or “Apuntá Alto” as part of a movement that harnesses the power of social media to create interactive and uplifting public art. People going to see the mural of wings are encouraged to take a photo between them and upload it to social media using the hashtags #whatliftsyou and #apuntáalto. Montague hopes that it will encourage people to take a moment to think about what is truly important to them in life. The undeniably hip event was sponsored by Altos del Plata wine, and the mural can be seen across the street from the Facultad de Derecho (Av. Figueroa Alcorta 2270). Kelsey was nice enough to sit down with The Bubble for a few minutes to let us pick her brain:

Did you always want to be an artist?

It’s not so much that I wanted to, more like something I always knew that I loved. I think I’ve always been drawn to art because I come from a family of painters (watercolorists). I actually started drawing when I was five years old (my very first drawing was portrait of my dad at baseball game. My mom still has it). It’s hard to say, “I’m going to be an artist and I’m going to make a living doing it” – I had no idea how to make that happen; so I studied art, worked jobs that weren’t necessarily creative, and I would just draw from 9:00 PM to 2:00 AM. I just did it because I loved it. I also realized how important creating a community around my work was to me. Now I’m lucky in that I’ve been given a voice, and get to put my ideas out there. My sister (who happens to be my business partner) and I get to travel the world together and share this uplifting message. Our goal is to get people to use social media as something positive, and we were blown away by the response we got from the “What Lifts You” campaign.

What advantages does the prevalence of social media give artists today that didn’t necessarily exist for previous generations?

I have nothing against galleries and art exhibitions in the traditional sense. I definitely had my experience knocking on gallery doors with my sketchbook under my arm, but it just wasn’t working for me. Social media allowed me to focus on exactly what I wanted to share with my audience, and it gave me the positive feedback that I needed at the time. It let me not only share what I was already doing, but made me shift my focus to creating things specifically for social media. The real attention came when I started doing the interactive murals, and that made me realize that I had found something special.

What lifts you?

My family and my dog! They’re the heart of what I do, and I’m really fortunate to have such a support system. My sister has been by my side since the very beginning, and getting to travel with her definitely makes my job less lonely.

Kelsey Montague small

Who do you look to for inspiration?

I love Ron Mueck. I love that he was able to transform his passion into career. He started making masks in film and then transitioned to the hyperrealist sculpture that he’s well known for today. I love his work, and love that he was able to shift between so many experiences in his life. It reminds me that you don’t ever have to feel like you’re stuck doing one thing. I’m also inspired by my mom. She’s a watercolor artist who paints a lot of landscapes, still life, and birds.

We actually just put this together: my grandfather (also a painter) would always include a little bird in his paintings and my mom also painted birds really often. It made me think about the fact that I love drawing wings, and how the uplifting theme sort of runs in the family!

What is the process of creating your murals like?

I’m very structured when it comes to the outline, and make sure all the details like proportions and shape are exactly the way that I want them. Everything inside is much more organic, and I just let whatever inspires me come out onto the piece.

What advice can you pass along to other young women hoping to pursue a career in art?

Love what you’re doing and hold to passions. You have to really understand what you’re doing, expect ups and downs, and hustle as hard as you can. When you can find your voice, stick with it no matter what, and you can definitely make it happen.