As an artistic entrepreneur, I work with a largely commercial client base offering fine art, murals, illustration, merchandise design, and art consultation. I operate my business of 10 years, Monica Kelly Studio, in a pink and tangerine-colored triangle house in the 7th Ward. I renovated this historic Creole cottage into my dream studio, where you'll find my gallery, print shop, painting studio, and a living space where I host resident and visiting artists. I teach art + design classes in the space and also run an apprenticeship program training young female artists in the various facets of running an arts business.
I have always been passionate about building community and strive to form long-term creative partnerships with my clients. I created brands and merchandise for many non-profits, bands and musicians in the New Orleans community, as well as for festivals and international businesses. In 2019, I had my first public monument installed in front of University Medical Center of New Orleans, which is titled "The Spirit of Lower Mid City" and consists of an art walk of 22 illustrated steel panels. I am also very excited about the psychedelic poster series I have been producing with The Fillmore New Orleans, created in the tradition of the 1960's and 70's Bill Graham era posters.
Here on Where Y'art you'll find a special collection of fine art prints created from my original paintings. These paintings are the work of my soul, which I create intuitively, often to live music. You may explore my portfolio of public art, commercial, and illustration work at monicakellystudio.com. You'll also find sneak peeks of work-in-progress on Instagram at @monicakellystudio.
Outside of my artistic business, I love to travel and see the world, connecting globally with other artists and creating work in new places. I also run a healing practice called Flora Arcana, specializing in flower essence therapy. My current body of fine art is a reflection of my experiences working with flowers, and features portraits of women spiritually interacting with healing plants. I find my balance communing with Nature, and my garden is my happy place. I have been attending Samara School of Community Herbalism to deepen my relationship with the plant world.
Questions & Answers
Describe your art in three words.
Intuitive. Whimsical. Musical.
Describe yourself in one word.
What do you love the most about creating art in New Orleans? What particular part of your immediate environment, in your neighborhood specifically influences your work?
I love that New Orleans lives and breathes music. Our connective tissue, community, is electric. We thrive on each other's creative spirits.
Every day around sunset I paint in my studio and DJ for the block. My neighbors and I take turns doing it at different times. It keeps everyone's spirits lifted, especially during these strange times in which we can't connect in person.
Describe your creative process. Are there any rituals or rites of passage you exercise before you begin a new piece?
Energetically, I set my space with music, sage, and wind chimes that blow in the breeze. I hang the work of my friends and mentors around me, and rearrange the workspace often. I also let myself get messy. My floor is covered in paint drips and puddles.
Also, nothing gets new work made like a scary deadline.
Where do you draw inspiration?
Energy, music, spirit, justice, and intuition.
Who are your artistic influences or gurus?
I grew up in Philadelphia and then North Jersey, surrounded by big murals, strong women, hip hop and graffiti. I started listening to older albums on vinyl when I was a teenager and got really into psychedelia from my favorite album covers. I love Art Nouveau and its stylistic influence in Paris, Brussels, and New Orleans. Some of my favorite artists are Victor Horta, Alphonse Mucha, Erte, Rudy Gutierrez, Walter Inglis Anderson, Cathie Bleck, Susan Seddon Boulet, Faith47, Swoon, Bua, Retna, Mona Caron, and Paul Santoleri. I also love all of the old Fillmore West poster artists. Marcus Akinlana, who is also a Where Y'artist, has been a mentor and dear friend to me for many years.
In New Orleans, art and music go hand in hand. What type of music, band or song lyric best describes your work?
Deep old skool reggae remixed with a heavy beat and a bad ass female MC flowing on top
Where can we find you when you are not creating art?
In my garden or kitchen, on a plane, at the ocean, or deep in a jungle
What is your favorite time of day/day of the week/month of the year?
I love golden hour and witching hour. Springtime in New Orleans is pure magic.
What is something people don’t know about you? A fun fact.
I'm the oldest of five Kelly's. They are the coolest people I know.
To send me a message
you must log in or
Where You Can Find My Work
All works listed online are available to be viewed at Where Y’Art Gallery by appointment.
Original paintings and archived prints can be viewed in person at Monica Kelly Studio by appointment.
Current exhibition of musical artwork & collectible posters at Pearl Wine Co.
Select archives in The Historic New Orleans Collection
Behind the scenes: @monicakellystudio on Instagram
Public art & mural locations:
- "The Spirit of Lower Mid City": Galvez neutral ground between Canal and Tulane
- "One More Time" commemorative mural of Big Chief Bo Dollis: Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. and Jackson Ave
- Beauty Plus mural: Elysian Fields & St. Claude
- Loveswimming mural: Front St. & Bellecastle
New Orleans commercial murals:
Magnolia Yoga, NOLA Brewing, Grow On, Big Easy Bucha, The Ohm Well, Dat Dog, BUKU Live Gallery, Dragon's Den