Luling artist’s work featured on market’s king cake boxes  

Kelly Bourgeois says her three children “think they’re famous.”  

Well, they’re not entirely wrong.   

The trio were the models for Bourgeois’ painting of three children atop ladders for a Mardi Gras parade, a painting featured on the king cake boxes sold at Robert Fresh Market. The Hahnville High School alum and Luling resident has worked as an artist full-time for the past eight years, working mostly on commissioned artwork, teaching art classes to youth and also through mobile paint parties.   

The chance to have her work captured upon these king cake boxes, however, was an especially fun opportunity, she said – and it comes with a few perks.   

“It’s a terrible problem for me to have to eat all that king cake,” Bourgeois quipped. “The kids certainly don’t mind.”  

That opportunity came following a call from Renee Simpson, graphics designer at Melismatic Designs who was working with Robert on its king cake box design. Simpson and Bourgeois have collaborated on other projects relatively frequently and the former thought Bourgeois’ artistic style represented a good fit.   

“(Robert) wanted an updated look for their king cake box, and they wanted it to be family-oriented,” Bourgeois said. “And, specifically, they wanted three kids on ladders for Mardi Gras.”  

Bourgeois went online to look for reference points to begin visualizing the look for her painting. It didn’t take long before she realized a better answer was right under her nose – or perhaps better put, just down the hall.   

“I was quickly enlightened – hey, I have three children,” Bourgeois said. “I can use them as models.”  

Bourgeois calls her children her muse in many respects of her life, but in this case, the meaning was literal. To be able to share the project and in fact have them be part of the finished product was exciting for her.   

“You could say it put the icing on the cake,” she said.   

“They’re getting to partake in the excitement right along with me. It’s been pretty great.”  

Bourgeois has gravitated to artwork throughout her entire life.   

“I was drawing rabbits in the second grade, and my teacher said, ‘those are really good.’ And here we are today,” Bourgeois said.   

She went on to become a student in St. Charles Parish schools’ talented art program. When it was time to choose an area of study in college, she knew she wanted to choose subjects that allowed her to incorporate her creativity. Bourgeois earned a degree in interior design and minored in architectural history.   

Bourgeois went into the interior design field for about six years while also working part time as an artist. When Bourgeois and her husband began growing their family, however, she made the decision to stay at home to focus on parenting, with her art business supplementing the family’s income and allowing her a creative outlet.   

When she gets an alert on her phone and sees another person tagging her in a post about her artwork – and she’s been getting plenty of those since the king cakes hit the shelves for this Mardi Gras season at Robert – or when she hears feedback in person, it always feels special.  

“To have people supporting me as an artist, I’m just so grateful,” she said. “I’m living out my passion and my dream and when you feel like you have the community behind you, it’s just always exciting and always special.”  

When Bourgeois gets some artistic inspiration, she creates at her art studio in Luling.   

“I do a lot of watercolors, acrylics … of people and pets,” she said. “Architectural portraits … all types of things.”  

It’s especially special for her when she captures something in her artwork that makes others feel.   

“When your art makes someone emotional, there’s nothing greater than that,” she said. “If you can make something someone is going to cherish, that’s so fulfilling.”  

The new king cake box design is expected to carry through the next few years at Robert – which has five locations including the closest in Metairie – and thus Bourgeois’ work will be a regular part of letting the good times roll – and plenty of king cake in the Bourgeois house along with it.   

 

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