Pop Artist
Became a full-time artist at 50
Painting your favorite nostalgic celebrities
Originals, Prints & Commissions Available

From her studio in Toronto, Michelle paints subjects that celebrate nostalgic pop culture. Vella's distinctive "Big Eyes" celebrity pop art portraits are story telling, fun and colorful. With collectors worldwide, her most popular artworks include Elton John, Andy Warhol and Audrey Hepburn.

Featured in publications such as Harper’s BAZAAR, W magazine, Style at Home, CNN Style and The Washington Post, plus TV appearances on The Feminist Perspective on PBS, The Marilyn Denis Show and Cityline. 

How it all started...

How it all started... At 50, I changed careers and became a full time artist. I painted a portrait (fashion illustration) and posted to Instagram everyday and in doing so, I discovered my distinctive “BIG EYES” signature style. Instagram propelled my near instant success on the NY fashion scene. In 2015, Fashion’s iconic designer Diane von Furstenberg discovered me on Instagram, asking to purchase my portrait of her, it was a real pinch me moment. I got to meet Diane in person, and deliver the two portraits that are in Diane’s art collection at the DVF Fashion House in NYC. At the same time and by way of instagram, W Magazine commissioned custom portraits of their Editors, including Edward Enninful, then W Fashion Editor and now Editor in Chief of British Vogue, I was on cloud nine. I was also the fashion illustrator for many W magazine events starting with their annual NY Fashion Week ‘It Girl” Celebrity Luncheon where I painted live portraits of such icons as Emily Ratajkowski.

Full Bio

Canadian, Toronto-based pop artist Michelle Vella is known for her colourful big eye portrayals of nostalgic celebrity icons. Since childhood, she’s always been considered a talented artist. After graduating with in Fine Arts, the starving artist stigma didn't sit well with Vella’s entrepreneurial spirit. So, with that, she pursued art related careers and some not so related, allowing her to develop skills in sales, marketing and business. After 10yrs running her graphic design business RealSTUDIO®, Michelle made a career change at 50 to pursue art full-time.

Instagram propelled near instant success of her Wide Big Eye portraits on the NY fashion scene. In 2015, Fashion’s iconic designer Diane von Furstenberg discovered Vella on Instagram, asking to purchase Vella’s portrait of DVF, which is now part of Diane’s art collection at the DVF Fashion House NYC. That same year, W Magazine commissioned custom portraits of their Editors, including Edward Enninful, Fashion Editor at the time and now Editor in Chief at British Vogue. She also joined W’s annual NY Fashion Week ‘It Girl” Celebrity Luncheon to paint live portraits of such icons as Emily Ratajkowski.

Soon after, Michelle transitioned from fashion illustrator to pop artist when she started painting portraits on canvas focusing on nostalgic celebrated icons such as Audrey Hepburn, Elton John and Andy Warhol. Her Big Eye portraits bring back nostalgic memories that are so fun and whimsical that you can't help but smile.

With collectors worldwide, Vella has participated at art fairs and shows, from Aqua Art Miami at Art Basel to Art Marbella, Spain and several Pop-Ups in Toronto. Although Michelle represents herself, she is also represented at these galleries; Vonsaal Adjunkt Gallery-Napa, California, Arta Art Gallery-Toronto, and Wall Candy Gallery-Montreal. Featured in The Washington Post, CNN Style, Style at Home, ELLE Canada, FASHION Magazine, W Magazine and Harper’s BAZAAR. Appearances on The Marilyn Denis Show, CityLine, TSC’s Style Matters with Jeanne Beker, and The Feminist Perspective with Dr. Sophia Johnson on PBS and Feminist Today on Free Speech TV.

Artist Statement

"I always had an affinity for nostalgic pop culture, celebrity icons, which is the inspiration behind who I paint. My art brings back that nostalgic connection to fun and happy memories. I paint what makes me smile, and that seems to make others smile too."

~ Michelle Vella 


For Purchase & all inquiries please contact:
Michelle Vella Inc. 

Art Shows, Events and Pop-Ups

  • Group of Eight Art Show, Toronto - Dec 2022
  • VONSAAL Adjunkt Gallery, Napa, California - Oct 2022 Current Representation
  • Arta Art Gallery, Representation, Current, Distillery District Toronto
  • New York Art Expo, Spring 2023 - TBA
  • Van Gogh Art Gallery, Madrid, Spain, Group Show, 2022
  • Art Marbella Nov 2021 represented by Van Gogh Art Gallery, Madrid, Spain
  • CosART, Cosentino Toronto Oct 2021 - Feb 2022
  • Aqua Art Miami, Dec. 4-8th 2019 (Art Basel Miami)
  • SOLO ART SHOW "Art that makes you smile" Art Exhibit and Installation at Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Toronto June 27 - October 15, 2019
  • The Shopping Channel, Style Matter's with Jeanne Beker April 4, 2019 7-9pm
  • SOLO ART SHOW: THE FIX at Yorkville Village, Toronto, March/April 2019
  • CityLine, on CityTV, Art feature, February 7, 2019
  • IDS TORONTO, January 2019
  • POP UP at HILLCREST SHOPPING CENTRE, Richmond Hill Oct 11-14
  • POP UP at YORKVILLE VILLAGE, Toronto Sept 8 - Sept 17, 2018
  • DIMENSIONS GALLERY, Current Representation, 732 Queen St. East Toronto
  • CONCEPT at YORKDALE SHOPPING CENTRE, Toronto, March 2018, Featured Artist, Art Show & PopUp, Live Illustrating Portraits Fund Raiser for International Women’s Day 
  • ARTIST PROJECT TORONTO Feb 2018 - Art Show
  • Harper’s BAZAAR ICONS Party, The Plaza NY, NYFW Sept 2017 - The Weekend
  • SUZANNE ROGERS PRESENTS DVF, Diane von Furstenberg 2017 and Jeanne Beker Portrait Presentation.
  • TWIST GALLERY, POP ART GROUP SHOW, Queen St. West, Toronto, November 2017
  • MAC COSMETICS OPENING, Sherway Gardens, Sept 2017 - Live Illustrating Portraits
  • ROCKS ON THE DOCKS VII : JDJ JEWELS & Solo Art Show July 2017, Muskoka
  • Harper’s BAZAAR ICONS Party, The Plaza NY - NYFW Sept 2016 - Kanye West
  • TIFF Sept 2016: JdJ Jewelbox Windows at The Toronto Ritz-Carlton
  • ROCKS ON THE DOCKS VI : JDJ JEWELS & Solo Art Show July 2016 Muskoka
  • NARS / W Magazine EVENT, Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, Nov 2015 - Live Illustrating Portraits, Co-starring with Marta Pozzan, LA Fashion Blogger/Model
  • ART MIAMI Dec 2015: Diamonds Unleashed by Kara Ross 
  • IDEX Toronto 2015: Exterior Technologies Group
  • W Magazine Client Beauty Event NYC, Oct 2015, Live Illustrating Portraits
  • MY BRUSH WITH FASHION Solo Show - Sept 2015 - Vintage Conservatory, Toronto
  • TIFF Sept 2015: JdJ Jewelbox Windows at The Toronto Ritz-Carlton
  • NYFW Sept 2015 - W Magazine - Live Illustration at the W’s It Girl Luncheon
  • NYFW Sept 2015 - DVF - Diane von Furstenberg Presentation of my portrait of DVF at her NY Fashion House, and the DVF Fashion Show

Media, Commissions & Collaborations

  • Curator on the GO Podcast, Interview April 2021
  • Not a Starving Artist Podcast, Interview Nov 2021
  • The Artist Show Podcast, Interview May 2019 
  • JESSICA JUNG, Harper's BAZAAR 2017
  • SYLVIA MANTELLA, Bidinis hand painted bag 2017
  • JEANNE BEKER, Portrait 2017
  • TICKET OPS, Toronto - Vancouver 2017, 2018 The Beatles & The Rolling Stones portraits, corporate commission
  • HARPER’S BAZAAR, VP Jeannette Chang, portrait
  • DVF:  Diane von Furstenberg Portrait
  • BIDINIS Italy: Wearable Art Fashions, established collaboration in 2016
  • SANTONI Italy: Campaign SS16
  • LANE CRAWFORD: Editorial May 2016
  • GLAM4GOOD; Mary Alice Stephenson
  • Diamonds Unleashed: Art Miami 2015
  • INFOR - Charles & Karen Phillips portrait 2016
  • W Magazine Editors: Portraits; Stefano Tonchi, Edward Enninful, Lynn Hirschberg, Armand Limnader, Publisher; Lucy Kriz
  • Coach Creative Director: Portrait; Stuart Vevers
  • Emily Ratajkowski Portrait, W Magazine event
  • Brother Vellies: Portrait; Aurora James
  • JdJ JEWELS: Portraits; Jewelbox Windows at the Toronto Ritz-Carlton 
  • Exterior Technologies Group: Portraits; IDEX
  • KARA ROSS NY: Portraits; Instagram Mothers Day Campaign
  • W Magazine Instagram Feature: Portrait; Taraji P. Henson Aug 2015 Cover

Non Profit Involvement 

  • CANFAR Bloor Street Entertains 2019 - Framed Elton John Edition Print 
  • Providence Charity Gala Nov 2019 - 2 Edition Prints
  • Art for Animals Oct 2019 - Edition Print
  • Malachy’s Soirée, Sept 27, 2018 - An Inaugural event, raising money to help the NICU at St. Michael’s Hospital 
  • Art for Animals, Sept 27, 2018 - An art auction featuring Toronto’s most talented Artists - Donating a MV Limited Edition Print of my Gord Downie portrait
  • International Women’s Day at YORKDALE SHOPPING CENTRE, Toronto, March 2018 - Live Illustrating Portraits, Raising money for a Women’s Charity
  • Reach for the Rainbow Crystal Ball, ROM, Nov 2017 - REACH Connects families to Inclusive Recreational Programs - Live Illustrating Portraits
  • Reach for the Rainbow Comedy Night, Oct 2017 - Live Illustrating Portraits
  • Dress for Success Toronto, Polished 2017: Better Together, The Bata Shoe Museum, Nov 2017 - Live Illustrating Portraits
  • GLAM4GOOD 2016 NYC - A fashion/beauty movement celebrating social impact through beauty & style - Celebrating 6 women with a MV custom Portrait
  • Dress for Success Toronto, Kara Alloway / Zac Posen - The Windsor Arms Hotel, Sept 2015, Live Illustrating Portraits and art show