To say we have a few Taylor Swift superfans in the House Beautiful office is to say IKEA is a kinda well-known furniture store (that is, it's a severe understatement). So, when queen Tay herself-whose every move is being analyzed with bated breath by a slew of fans convinced she will release a new album tonight at midnight-Instagrammed about a certain Nashville artist, our company Slack feeds were abuzz with this new activity. What did the mural MEAN? How did it relate to her cryptic Instagram post-dropping over the past month? Who was its artist, Kelsey Montague? While only time will reveal the answers to those first two (though there's currently A LOT of speculation going on, if you want to dig down that particular rabbit hole), we can provide you with some answers about Kelsey herself-and the special project she did for T-Swift.
A post shared by Kelsey Montague (@kelseymontagueart) on Apr 25, 2019 at 11:49am PDT
You've likely seen her work on Instagram.
Kelsey is the artist responsible for those black-and-white painted wings that pretty much every influencer you follow has posed in front of, either at "The Gulch" in Nashville, or on New York City's Lower East Side.
I love Nashville. I love the people, I love the creativity, the music, the drive and most importantly the heart of this city. Last week I got to come out and chat with @marley_sherwood for #cmttop20 & @wordpressdotcom about my Nashville wings. We discussed how much I love The Gulch and how much it means to me that the city of Nashville has embraced them so completely. Check out the interview on @cmt today. 💕💫 #whatliftsyou #anythingispossible
A post shared by Kelsey Montague (@kelseymontagueart) on Jan 26, 2019 at 6:23am PST
A post shared by Kelsey Montague (@kelseymontagueart) on Jan 9, 2019 at 6:33am PST
Taylor commissioned her to create a new Nashville mural.
About a week ago, a new mural popped up in Nashville: a more colorful, psychedelic take on Kelsey's signature wings. Taylor fans were quick to point out the 13 hearts featured in the mural as proof that Taylor (who famously loves the number 13) was behind this new work of street art.
And it appears they were right. Today, Kelsey posted a photo of Taylor posing under the wings (beneath a fresh addition of the word "ME!") with the caption "you helped me find my voice as an artist and you opened up my path. Thank you Taylor 💗 4.26 @taylorswift" (note the reference to tomorrow's date).
Taylor also confirmed this news on her Instagram account: "[We] put clues about the song and the new music in the mural, so I'm going to go show up," she said in an Instagram Story post today. There, Taylor posed for selfies with the dozens of screaming fans who showed up to watch her snap pics with the street art.
Apparently, there's a whole lot of symbolism in it.
Besides those 13 hearts, the new mural also features things like flowers, which Swift has referenced many times over the last few weeks-along with her pastel-hued countdown clock to April 26 at midnight-and cats, which she famously loves (and is the proud mama to two Scottish Fold cats, Meredith and Olivia).
Some believe her first single will be titled "Me," based on the only copy shown on the mural. And I'm sure there are more that this mere regular fan hasn't noticed.
At first, Kelsey had no idea she was working for Taylor Swift.
When she first received the brief, Kelsey had no idea the client was actually a pop superstar. "I thought they were just being nice, asking me to draw hearts, stars and flowers," she told the Tennessean. "It was like, 'How do you guys know?' It's like my favorite things."
Guess she and Tay Tay have similar tastes.
This isn't the first time Taylor has caused buzz for Kelsey.
Kelsey's work went viral in 2017, when Taylor posed with her wings in New York City, near the singer's Manhattan apartment. "The piece was up a week when Taylor Swift drove by and told her publicist to stop so she could take a picture with the piece," the artist told Forbes at the time. "She posted it to her Instagram, and the piece immediately went viral online. People were standing in a line down the street to get a picture with the wings."
A post shared by Kelsey Montague (@kelseymontagueart) on Oct 17, 2018 at 6:22am PDT
Kelsey is formally trained.
Before becoming an Instagram celebrity, Kelsey studied art in Florence, Italy, and graduated from Richmond University in London with a degree in Art, Design & Media.
She creates murals all over the world.
Despite her popularity in New York and Nashville, Kelsey's work can be seen far beyond those cities. A map on her website shows fans all the places she's done work, including South Africa, Costa Rica, Spain, Laos, and Dubai-to name just a few.
A post shared by Kelsey Montague (@kelseymontagueart) on Oct 23, 2018 at 6:21am PDT
She works with her sister.
Courtney Montague serves as her sis's Operations Director, overseeing all of Kelsey's new initiatives (of which there are many-see below).
She's partnered with some serious brands.
Anyone who's read this far would certainly agree that if Taylor Swift is anything, she's a master of the personal brand-and perpetual rebrand. In that sense, she's hardly the only big brand who's worked with Kelsey. The artist counts Facebook, Wayfair, Gap, Bumble, and Coca Cola among her past clients.
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