Get to Know the Artist Behind Those Wing Murals You See All Over Instagram

When you come across a pair of wings perfectly painted onto the side of a wall, you don't just walk past them.

Instead, you make your best friend take at least 500 pictures of you in front of them until you take one worthy of being posted on your Instagram.

Taylor Swift knows the drill. She posted the below pic to her Insta way back in 2014.

Taylor Swift standing in front of a pair of angel wings

(via Instagram)

And during Coachella last weekend, Kendall Jenner posed in front of a Winter Wonderland-inspired pair.

Kendall Jenner standing in front of a pair of angel wings

(via Instagram)

This piece, however, isn't about Taylor or Kendall. No, this article is about someone far more important—the artist who gave these lovely ladies their wings.

We caught up with Kelsey Montague to discover the meaning behind her wings, her favorite pair and what we can expect from her in the future. Keep scrolling to see what she had to say!

Photo of artist Kelsey Montague

(Courtesy of Kelsey Montague)

Sweety High: How did you get into art? Was it alway something you wanted to do?

Kelsey Montague: I come from a long line of artists on my mom's side. I grew up surrounded by her paintings and in my grandfather's art studio. I ended up studying art, design and media at Richmond University in London. When I moved to New York City after college I was very interested in street art and social media and how the two intersect. That was where my street art was born.

Mural by Kelsey Montague of an upside down cityscape

(Courtesy of Kelsey Montague)


SH: How did you come up with the concept of your wing murals?

KM: I wanted to create a piece of art that people could stand in front of and look like they were part of. I want all my art to be highly interactive.

The wings, I believe, came from my grandfather. He would hide a bird in every painting he ever did. To him birds represented spirituality. I know now that is where my love of wings came from.

Kelsey Montague standing in front of a pair of wings she painted onto a black wall

(Courtesy of Kelsey Montague)


SH: What do you hope people take away when they come across one of your murals?

KM: I want people to have a moment when they can reflect on what most inspires them in their life. I also want people to take a moment for themselves and compose a beautiful photo interacting with my work. My work is less about my art and more about how communities embrace it.

Mural of dragonflies by Kelsey Montague on a blue wall

(Courtesy of Kelsey Montague)


SH: How many different variations of wings have you created so far? Do you have a favorite pair you've painted?

KM: I think I've created over 50 pairs of wings around the world and every pair I do is unique. I really loved the pair I did in Nashville, Tennessee and the doves I did in San Antonio, Texas.

Girl standing in front of a pair of wings painted onto a black wall

(Courtesy of Kelsey Montague)


SH: Where are all the different places you've painted your wings? Is there a place you'd like them to be that they aren't?

KM: I've painted wings in 10 different countries and throughout the USA, including Australia, Argentina, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Ireland, Mauritius, New Zealand, Switzerland and the UK.

I would love to paint wings in the Vatican. I would love to be involved with the Mars One project and contribute art to a spacecraft. Finally, I'd love to design an airplane's exterior.

Pair of wings painted onto wooden boards in Argentina

(Courtesy of Kelsey Montague)


SH: Tons of people have taken pics with your wings. How does that make you feel? Do you have a favorite story behind the different photos you've seen?

KM: Going into the #WhatLiftsYou hashtag on Instagram is the best feeling in the world. So many people have been excited to interact with my work and to openly share what is most important to them in their lives.

I've received so many inspiring stories. One mom sent me the picture of her daughter in front of the wings and explained that on that day her daughter had won a very long battle with cancer. She was in remission and that photo was her celebration. Those stories bring tears to my eyes and make me work even harder to expand the #WhatLiftsYou campaign.

Girl posing in front of a black wall with white wings painted onto it

(Courtesy of Kelsey Montague)


SH: What do you love most about what you do?

KM: I love giving people the opportunity to become living works of art by stepping in front of my pieces. I also love that the #WhatLiftsYou hashtag on Instagram has grown to over 50,000 people who not only pose with my work and post it but, most importantly, often share what is most meaningful in their lives.

Girl posing in between a mural of two blue and white doves

(Courtesy of Kelsey Montague)


SH: Do you have any upcoming projects you're working on that you can tell us about? 

KM: I'm working on bringing the wings to a number of new countries including South Africa, Turkey, Poland and Greece. I'm also working on a number of cool product lines.

Finally, my What Lifts You app will be live in May! You will be able to find it on the Apple App Store.

Girl posing in front of balloons painted onto a white wall

(Courtesy of Kelsey Montague)


Another artist we've been obsessing over is Lunumbra, the creative mind behind those intricate hand-painted Pokémon cards. Get to know her a bit better HERE.