Today is World AIDS Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness of the fight to end the AIDS pandemic and to mourning those we have lost to the disease. In commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Gap's first (RED) collection and its role as the founding (RED) apparel partner, the brand is launching a collection of iconic Utility Jackets, each featuring custom designs by six of the most renowned female street artists from around the world. This talented group of women is known for their exciting, thought-provoking work and for creating awareness of contributions by women in the world of street art.
One of the women who created an original design for the Gap Utility Jacket line is international street artist and coloring book author, Kelsey Montague. Kelsey is known for her for intricate pen-and-ink drawings and a thriving social media campaign that transforms her interactive public murals into living works of art. We interviewed the artist to learn about how she got involved with the Gap project and the inspiration behind her design.
How did you get involved with the Gap (RED) project?
(RED) approached me about this incredible project and I was so very excited to do something that would support the Global Fund to Fight AIDS.
I am so thrilled I'm able to contribute to this fund through my art. These are awful diseases and I am grateful to be able to contribute.
What was your inspiration for the design you created for the utility jacket? Do the feathers represent something?
My wings and feathers, to me, represent freedom and strength - freedom to rise above the troubles of our everyday life, but also the strength to face those issues that plague us. I believe that this collaboration with (RED) and Gap embodies the same spirit. This product is all about facing the issue of ending AIDS in our lifetime and rising above it by continuing to fight it in every way we can.
The red feather over the heart is designed to remind us of those we've lost in this battle.
How did you get your start as a street artist and an illustrator?
I have been an artist since I was born. Almost everyone on my mother's side was an artist. My grandfather was a watercolorist and he always put a bird in all of his paintings. It was a spiritual thing to him. I spent my childhood looking for those birds in his paintings. I know that influenced my love of wings and feathers.
I did my first large scale, street art mural a few years ago in NYC and I wanted to make it interactive because I want people to be able to step into a piece and become an actual piece of art.
Do you have a personal memory from the (RED) collection that debuted at Gap ten years ago?
I remember being impressed that (RED) was creating a way for everyone to contribute to AIDS by partnering with such amazing companies. It was innovative and powerful and still is.
I've really loved being a part of this collection ten years later and interpreting the spirit of this partnership onto clothing.
To learn more about (RED) and how Gap has partnered with the organization to fight against AIDS, click here.
Click here to shop the full Gap x (RED) collection.