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“I feel so grateful I get to create art that gives people an opportunity to express their own creativity. Or to feel strong. Or beautiful. Or to feel connected. Or to stop and really consider what is most important to them in their life (what lifts them)?”

-Kelsey Montague

Questions by 6th-grade student, Ayla, who designed the wing framework for Lake Cowichan Elementary School's community #WHATLIFTSYOU mural.

How did it feel to first see Taylor Swift posting a selfie in front of your mural? In a recent Instagram post you thanked Taylor Swift for giving you more of a voice as an artist. Can you explain this gratitude?

About 5 years ago I completed my first interactive mural and Taylor Swift posted it on her Instagram.  This exposure helped to initially launch my career. Learning this week that she has followed my career and secretly commissioned a mural from me to help launch her new song has left me stunned. When I talked to her she let me know that she was proud of me and that I’ve ‘grown so much.’ The gratitude I feel is hard to describe. She’s changed my life twice.

I am determined to pay these gifts forward. This is what we, as artists, should be doing for each other. Lifting each other up.

You recently assisted Taylor Swift in the promotion of her new single #ME. How did this project transpire and what was it like collaborating with her?

Throughout the process I actually worked with ABC on what, I thought, was a project for the NFL Draft. I now know that the feedback on the mural was probably coming from her. It was a dream project because I was allowed to be completely creative and only given basic guidelines (pastels, 13 hearts, 2 cats, 1 kitten etc.). It was a wonderful collaboration from start to finish.

You mention losing yourself in the smallest spaces within your pieces and feeling a natural, creative flow as you work. How much of your work is actually planned out in advance and how do you feel that impacts your pieces?

I do mockups so everyone is on the same general page before I start a piece, but if I have a wonderful client that isn’t too prescriptive, I find that freedom works its way into a piece in wonderful ways. If I can just create I completely lose myself in the painting/drawing and I’m always so much happier with the result.

You got your start as an artist as many youths do, drawing in your sketchbook as a hobby. Contemplating your evolution as an artist what advice can you give to young, aspiring creatives?

Keep going! Keep trying new mediums and styles. Push yourself. Don’t give up. Don’t listen to people that discourage you – surround yourself with people that will lift you up and encourage you.

Your interactive art style has the ability to make a large impact. How do you feel about this influential role you have acquired as an artist?

Grateful! I’m grateful I get to be a full-time artist. I’m grateful I get to work with amazing clients. I’m grateful I get to work with my sister (who’s the business side of Montague Art). But most of all I’m grateful to all of the people who have seen one of my pieces stopped and interacted with them. That is what it is all about. I feel so grateful I get to create art that gives people an opportunity to express their own creativity. Or to feel strong. Or beautiful. Or to feel connected. Or to stop and really consider what is most important to them in their life (what lifts them)?

What a huge gift it is to create this work.

What is next on your artistic journey? Do you have any exciting upcoming projects you are working on?

Yes,  we (Courtney, my sister, and I) have launched a series of YouTube videos that chronicles certain jobs we have coming up this year. The first one chronicled our work to create a tactile mural for visually impaired children. You can check it out here.

Also, we may be working on some products…. Stay tuned!

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