Since graduating from McMaster University with a fine arts degree in 1986, Michelle Vella has worked nearly a dozen jobs, on either side of the country, in several different industries. She worked as an assistant at a Toronto art gallery, took a job in software telesales, moved into marketing, spent three years in publishing and pursued portrait photography. At one point between all the career left turns, she launched a salad topper business: “when I was 23, and I started Michelle’s Gourmet Croutons. It was the middle of the gourmet food craze, and I had them in Pusateri’s, Holt Renfrew and David’s Foods.”
Then, just over a decade ago, she started a graphic design business called RealSTUDIO. “I thought at 40 I found the career of my dreams,” she says. “Fast forward 10 years, I started to want something different. So I started to pick up a pencil again.”
When Michelle was pursuing the idea of revisiting art, a wise friend advised her, “Oh, just draw fashion. Everybody loves fashion.” So she started flipping through magazines and drawing what she saw: “When a Vogue cover came out, I would draw that.” And everything she drew, she posted on Instagram.
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Hard to believe that Cara Delevingne has finally landed her 1st VOGUE US cover. This is my version of Cara Delevingne on the cover of BRITISH VOGUE back in March @britishvogue @caradelevingne I posted this illustration earlier but felt she needed more paint #caradelevingne #britishvogue #vogue #modeloftheyear #michellevella
Scroll back to Michelle’s 2015 Instagram posts, and you’ll see just how far her work has come—and you’ll see it didn’t take her long to understand she needed a signature style. “I would look at past drawings, and realize that they weren’t authentically me.