Our latest S’well collaboration was with the visionary street artist, Kelsey Montague. We had the chance to chat with Kelsey about her artistic inspiration, her extensive travels, and how the S’well x Starbucks collaboration was a perfect fit.
S’well: When did you know that you wanted to become an artist?
Kelsey Montague (KM): As a kid I was always drawing. I grew up in a family of artists – my mom and grandpa were watercolorists and my uncle is a sign maker.
S’well: Tell us about your wing motif. When did it enter into your work, and why is it important to you?
KM: My first set of wings were in NYC when I was given the chance to paint on a rotating art wall in downtown Manhattan. I really wanted to create a piece that was interactive and allowed people to become a living work of art. Wings came to me and it was only later I realized that was probably because my grandfather hid a bird in every painting he ever did. I grew up in his studio trying to find the birds in his paintings.
S’well: Your work is often shown outside or in public spaces. How does the context change the work itself? How does community figure into the work?
KM: Every piece I do is unique and specific to the community. The design work I put into a piece is often representative of the way a community feels to me. I also usually include smaller images in the design that represent a community. I want each piece to be really specific and for each community to feel like it is their piece.
S’well: You’ve spent a lot of time traveling this past year. What inspired you along the way? What tips would you give for those of us who want to spread our wings?
KM: I’ve been so lucky to travel all over the US and the world over the last few years. I am constantly inspired by the people I meet, the food I eat and the way communities interact with my work. I am on the #WhatLiftsYou hashtag on Instagram all the time and I am consistently inspired by how people interact with my work. People are so creative and interpret my work in ways I would have never considered.
As far as tips for others who want to spread their wings, I would say: figure out what inspires you, what you love doing and then work really really hard to make it a reality. Also, don’t be afraid to switch gears and try different things. Be courageous.
S’well: How did your S’well come into play throughout your travels?
KM: I spend most of my time outside on a wall with my sister (and business partner) painting these pieces. I am constantly in extreme temperatures. Having a water bottle that also acts as a thermos in extreme cold and keeps water cool in extreme heat has been an absolute lifesaver.
I also really appreciate the aesthetic of these bottles. They are beautifully designed in addition to being very utilitarian.
Finally, I think anything we can do on a day-to-day basis to help the environment is huge and drinking from a S’well bottle is an easy way to cut down on waste (from plastic bottles).
S’well: What was your first interaction with S’well? Why did the partnership with S’well and Starbucks make sense for you?
KM: Starbucks is a safe haven for my business partner/sister and I as we travel the world to create pieces. We typically eat at a Starbucks for breakfast and lunch when we are creating murals. We know a Starbucks will be warm (or cool if it’s sweltering) the people will be nice and the food/drinks will be good.
We love S’well’s commitment to the environment and aesthetics. I know when I’m working I can count on S’well to keep my water cold or hot depending on the weather I’m working in!
This partnership was a dream come true for me. Both companies are committed to supporting the environment and both help me accomplish my creative goals!
S’well: Tell us about the inspiration behind your S’well design.
KM: I wanted colors on the bottles that are inspired by water, signifying how much waste from water bottles has been saved by using S’well bottles. When creating the bottles, I was so thrilled that Starbucks has such a robust environmental program and the fact that their siren fit so seamlessly within that theme of water and a commitment to the environment.
S’well: What gets you up in the morning? What inspires you to make art every day?
The fact that I get to do what I love most, create art, is what inspires me every morning and every day. The idea that my art reaches out and may inspire others is another reason I love what I do. I can get lost in my drawing, share my work, and then hear how others around the world have been touched or lifted. It doesn’t get much better than that.
S’well: How does S’well inspire you?
KM: S’well offers a combination of two really important concepts in my life – art and environment – in one sleek, beautiful form.
Thanks Kelsey! Shop the new Kelsey Montague x S’well bottles now at most Starbucks cafes near you. Then, share your photos with @swellbottle.