Meet Michelle Vella, a Canadian artist based in Toronto, is renowned for her vibrant and captivating portrayals of nostalgic celebrity icons with her signature big-eye style. Even from a young age, Michelle's artistic talent was evident, and she pursued a degree in Fine Arts. However, feeling unsatisfied with the traditional starving artist path, her entrepreneurial spirit led her to explore various art-related and non-related careers, allowing her to develop skills in sales, marketing, and business. After a successful decade running her graphic design business, RealSTUDIO®, Michelle made the bold decision at the age of 50 to pursue art full-time.

The turning point in Michelle's career came with the rise of Instagram, which rapidly propelled her wide big-eye portraits to instant success within the New York fashion scene. In 2015, iconic fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg discovered Michelle's work on Instagram and eagerly purchased Michelle's portrait of her, now proudly displayed in Diane's art collection at the DVF Fashion House in NYC. That same year, Michelle received a commission from W Magazine to create custom portraits of their editors, including the esteemed Edward Enninful, who was the Fashion Editor at the time and is now the Editor in Chief of British Vogue. Michelle also had the opportunity to paint live portraits of influential figures like Emily Ratajkowski at W's annual NY Fashion Week 'It Girl" Celebrity Luncheon.

Inspired by her experiences, Michelle transitioned from fashion illustrator to pop artist, focusing on painting nostalgic portraits of celebrated icons such as Audrey Hepburn, Elton John, and Andy Warhol on canvas. Her distinctive big-eye style brings these iconic figures to life, evoking a sense of nostalgia and whimsy that never fails to bring a smile to viewers' faces. Michelle's artistic journey is a testament to her passion, versatility, and ability to create captivating artworks that resonate with audiences worldwide. 

Artist Statement

"My artistic journey is fueled by a deep affinity for nostalgic pop culture and the enduring allure of celebrity icons. Through my art, I aim to evoke a sense of connection and nostalgia, transporting viewers back to cherished moments and happy memories. Each brushstroke is guided by the intention to create artwork that brings a smile to my face, and it is immensely gratifying to witness that same joy mirrored in the hearts of others. I paint with passion and purpose, infusing my creations with the vibrant energy that emanates from the subjects who inspire me. It is my hope that my art serves as a visual celebration of the icons who have left an indelible mark on our collective consciousness, igniting a sense of joy and warmth in those who encounter my work."

~ Michelle Vella



Watch as Michelle Vella works her magic, bringing the iconic Dolly Parton to life on canvas in the opening minutes of the widely acclaimed Netflix Documentary "The Andy Warhol Diaries." Witness the strokes of her brush and the passion that fuels her artistry as she captures the essence of this legendary figure. This captivating scene is a testament to Michelle's exceptional talent and her ability to create awe-inspiring portraits. Don't miss this unique opportunity to witness the convergence of art and celebrity in a truly unforgettable way.



Michelle Vella's artwork has captivated collectors worldwide, leading her to participate in prestigious art fairs and shows across the globe. From Aqua Art Miami at Art Basel to Art Marbella in Spain, as well as various pop-up exhibitions in Toronto, her presence in the art scene is truly international. While Michelle primarily represents herself, she is also affiliated with galleries such as Vonsaal Adjunkt Gallery in Napa, California, CURIO at Project Hampton's, Bridgehampton, NY, Dimensions and Arta Art Gallery, Toronto. Her remarkable talent and unique style have earned her recognition in esteemed publications including The Washington Post, CNN Style, Style at Home, ELLE Canada, FASHION Magazine, W Magazine, and Harper's BAZAAR. Michelle's artistry has also been showcased through television appearances on The Marilyn Denis Show, CityLine, TSC's Style Matters with Jeanne Beker, The Feminist Perspective with Dr. Sophia Johnson on PBS, and Feminist Today on Free Speech TV. Her widespread exposure and acclaimed appearances further solidify her position as a highly regarded artist in the industry.


Photo Above: Michelle with Fashion Icon, Iris Apfel


How it all began...

Michelle Vella, a talented artist whose journey into the art world began at the age of 50 when she made the courageous decision to pursue art full time. Through her dedication and passion, she discovered her distinctive "BIG EYES" signature style that has become her artistic hallmark. Michelle's breakthrough came when she started posting her daily fashion illustration portraits on Instagram, instantly propelling her to success within the New York fashion scene. In a pinch-me moment, iconic designer Diane von Furstenberg discovered Michelle's work on Instagram and acquired a portrait of herself. This led to a personal meeting with Diane, where Michelle delivered two portraits that now grace the walls of Diane's art collection at the DVF Fashion House in NYC. Michelle's talent also caught the attention of W Magazine, who commissioned her to create custom portraits of their editors, including the esteemed Edward Enninful, who is now the Editor in Chief of British Vogue. Painting live portraits at W magazine events, such as the annual NY Fashion Week 'It Girl' Celebrity Luncheon, elevated Michelle's career even further, giving her the opportunity to capture the essence of iconic figures like Emily Ratajkowski. Michelle's artistic journey is a testament to the power of embracing one's passion and the incredible opportunities that can arise through the digital platform of Instagram.


Photo Above: Michelle & Diane von Furstenberg at the DVF Fashion House in NYC, 2015