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Self-taught Kansas City artist paints Super Bowl murals, Taylor Swift

William Rose
Posted at 4:03 PM, Feb 06, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Hello, Chiefs Kingdom! It sure is a fun time to be in Kansas City right now, huh?

It’s all Chiefs all the time as we gear up for Super Bowl LVIII.

Here at KSHB 41, and personally, one of the ways we highlight people making a difference in Kansas City is through the local arts scene.

I found an artist connected to some of the Chiefs artwork you know well in Kansas City. The man I heard from has an incredible backstory of how he became an artist.

It started, as most curiosities do, with a Google Search. I typed, "Kansas City Chiefs artwork," and stumbled across the page for Kansas City artist William Rose.

His page stood out to me for many reasons.

For one, the Chiefs artwork was immaculate. The attention to detail in each painting was obvious, and, in some cases, it was hard to tell whether an image was painted or photographed.

I also noticed he had a wide variety of paintings beyond the Chiefs. That’s when I found William’s artwork inspired by the Chiefs’ previous Super Bowl wins.

Super Bowl Parade 2020
2020 Super Bowl Parade / William Rose Art
Super Bowl Parade 2023
2023 Super Bowl Parade / William Rose Art

He has two original works based on the parades, but each tells a different story.

I kept scrolling and came across his bio.

"His clients include Texas A&M, the Kansas City Royals, Clint Eastwood, Kansas State University, H&R Block, the University of Kansas, and scores of others," the bio read.

Hello!? I just had to do this story!

When I emailed William and asked about setting up a story to highlight his artwork, inquiring whether or not he had anything in the works for the Super Bowl, he responded with the best email I could’ve imagined.

He told me he would love to be featured in my story and that he was working on a Taylor Swift-inspired painting. He had me at, "Hello."

Just so we’re all on the same page, I’m a HUGE Swiftie. In fact, I’ve even jokingly earned the title of “Swiftie beat reporter” from many of my colleagues at KSHB.

I’m even listening to Taylor Swift while writing this article.

I have a way of somehow working her into — almost — every story I do. So, once he said this, I knew the story was just meant to be.

I decided the best way to capture the story of him and his art was to watch him in action.

We set up a time to meet last Friday morning at Leopold Gallery in Kansas City, where lots of his art is still on display.

I asked him if he could bring the Taylor Swift painting he was working on and all of his paints and brushes — I wanted to fully paint the picture of him in his element.

And honestly? He was just fine with this.

Artist William Rose's process

“I’m happiest when I’m in front of a canvas, just like this,” William told me.

When I met him at the gallery, I put a mic on him and tried to stay out of his way.

I had questions to ask and information to gather, of course, but I wanted him to feel like I wasn’t there.

So I told him to keep painting Taylor Swift and not to worry about anything else. He did just that.

The image he’s aspiring to recreate is a digital markup he made himself based on the iconic photo of Taylor Swift wearing a No. 87 jersey-turned-jacket, styled by Kristin Juszczyk.

“It will magically turn into something that looks real close to that,” he told me when comparing his inspiration and his masterpiece side-by-side. “Doing a painting of Taylor Swift, it just kind of seemed like a natural. She’s obviously such a cultural icon, and obviously now such a big part of Chiefs culture.”

I could, quite literally, listen to someone talk about Taylor Swift all day. But I was even more intrigued by William when he shared how he’d discovered his artistic abilities.

Origin story of artist William Rose

At first instinct, my jaw dropped, I was amazed. Then, the self-deprecation set in.

He basically just looks at a photo and paints it.

Okay, William. Must be nice!

Jokes aside, William is grateful he discovered this talent.

“I pinch myself quite often that I’m actually able to do this for a living,” he told me.

Me too, William.

This made me smile as I was standing behind the camera interviewing him because it resonated so deeply. The fact that I get to learn about someone as inspiring as him and call it my job? I pinch myself quite often, too.

Naturally, I wasn’t going to walk out of there without making a Taylor Swift reference to William’s story. The reference landed.

William Rose says he's in his 'painting era'

Now, obviously, every story isn’t this heartwarming, and neither is every person or every experience.

But if there’s one reality check I got from telling William’s story, it is that it’s never too late to pursue your passions. I hope you got that from his story, too.