Michelle Vella is a Canadian artist, born in 1964 to Maltese parents and resides in Toronto. She paints colourful portraits of pop culture icons with a comical approach that is enhanced by her Wide Big Eyes signature style. Each portrait tells the story of her subjects through words and symbols interwoven throughout. You can tell by the people she portray’s that Michelle has a love for the classics, from movie’s, music to style icons of the past. She works with acrylic on large square canvases, giving them a “Warhol Pop Art” feel.
Michelle could draw as soon as she was old enough to hold a crayon. Since childhood, she was always considered the talented artist in her class, continuing to study fine arts in university, but then, a 30 year gap before choosing to be an artist. Graduating in 1986, “The starving artist stigma did not sit well with my 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. It wasn’t until 2015, 10 years into running her Graphic Design business that she picked up a pencil and started dreaming about a career change. “It felt great to hold a pencil again, creating on paper and not my computer”. Michelle had a fascination with Francesco Clemente’s portraits since seeing his work in the 1998 remake of “Great Expectations”. His influence lingered in Michelle’s imagination all these years later. “I started innately drawing big eyes in my portraits while also being inspired by fashion illustrators who were enjoying a comeback. I was intently looking for my authentic signature style, waiting for it to appear naturally.” As she painted a portrait everyday and posting to instagram, she would layout all of her portraits on the floor, looking for something unique to stand out. One day, she noticed in a few portraits that the eyes were a little wider than the face…it was her aha! moment, she found her signature style and went with it. A few months later, Fashions iconic designer Diane von Furstenberg discovered Vella on Instagram, asking to purchase Vella’s BIG EYE portrait of DVF, which is now part of Diane’s art collection at the DVF Fashion House in NYC.
Michelle Vella has participated in art fairs and solo art shows as an independent gallery and dealer, and most recently an exhibitor at Aqua Art Miami. She has collectors throughout Canada, the United States, and internationally. She has been featured on CNN Style, The MARILYN DENIS Show, City Line, TSC Style Matter’s with Jeanne Beker, The Feminist Perspective with Dr. Sophia Johnson NYC, and in Harper’s BAZAAR Thailand, W Magazine, FASHION Magazine, and ELLE CANADA.