Taylor Kampa Olson has always been driven to paint. She was just 6 years old when she completed her first mural, in the basement of her childhood home.
Now 34, the Reston artist has channeled that passion into a full-time gig hand-painting custom jackets for the wives and girlfriends of professional athletes across the country.
It all started a few years back, when she majored in graphic design at James Madison University. After graduation, she took a “classic graphic-design desk job.” But she realized it wasn’t her life’s calling. It was her husband, Bryan, who encouraged her to take a chance and go full time with her art.
So in 2016, she became a self-employed artist and found her work selling fast after she did artwork and murals for two DC companies, Toastique and District Doughnut. Soon after the Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup in 2018, the owners of DC restaurant Circa asked Olson to paint some murals along with 15 portraits of local athletes and celebrities.
“That’s where people in the Caps organization saw my artwork,” says Olson. “Things really took off.”
Before long, players’ wives started commissioning paintings for their homes. Then, Lauren Oshie, who’s married to Caps player TJ Oshie, asked Olson if she’d ever custom-painted jackets (she hadn’t) and commissioned two for her daughters.
“People saw that I was doing the jackets and started commissioning their own,” says Olson. “Every single Capitals wife has one, and even a few of the players.”
And it’s not just local players, or even just hockey. Olson has since painted close to 100 jackets for the wives and girlfriends of an array of professional athletes across the country, including Natalie Buffett, girlfriend of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, and Kayla Brown, girlfriend of Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.
“It’s just a totally different medium,” says Olson, who uses a textile fabric paint on the jackets. “It’s kind of like a walking billboard for your art.”
When someone reaches out to commission a jacket from Olson, she has them send her the piece they’d like to use. “Denim is the most popular, but I’ve been doing a lot more leather jackets recently,” says Olson. Blazers have become trendy, too. She spends anywhere from a few days to a week painting a typical jacket, for which she charges $1,000 or more.
Olson features updates and time-lapse videos of her progress on projects on her Instagram page, @tkopaintings.“This whole experience has just been really cool,” she says. “It’s not something I ever really expected, but it’s been fun getting to know all these girls across the country.”