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Meet Ela Mella in Atwater Village

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ela Mella.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Two years ago, I moved to Los Angeles after splitting my time growing up in both New York and New Jersey. It was a difficult time for me. I had just fought a hard battle with cancer beginning at age 22 and was suddenly in a place where I longed to be and yet still needed to learn how.

I had few friends here at the time, but that number multiplied when I moved in with six strangers I had met off Craigslist. Those roommates became friends who became family who became my first stepping stone to meeting more people and crossing into unfound lands.

California hugged me harder every day and once its grip was tight I found its influence carrying over into my art. My mood was brighter so my palette was brighter. My life was different so my art was different. And then suddenly, one day, my subject matter too made a switch, and that’s when it all truly started.

I painted my first avocado painting, ‘Get That Chip Off Your Shoulder’, as a California-coated message to myself to let go, stop holding grudges, quit making excuses and release the baggage I felt was keeping me from being the person I wanted to be. But what I thought would be a one-off painting snowballed into a giant series, creating with it this mental avalanche of avocado jokes swelling all parts of my brain.

Suddenly, this series I never intended to exist, became my existence. I got into my first art show, met my L.A. rat pack, and fused into the beating pulse of L.A.’s art circuit – but none of it was by magic. Even if you are shown the ropes, it’s up to you to pull yourself up and for me, every day is an opportunity to push an inch of yardage behind me en route to the top, whatever that means for you.

For me, ‘the top’ is figurative. My story here is as much my own as it is a collection of other artists’ that have selflessly given me a puzzle piece to help me form my own image, identity and purpose in this city. With their help and guidance, I’ve chewed off a piece every day of what has made my life difficult, and digested it into fuel to grow as a person, toughen as a woman and strengthen as an artist.

Reaching the top will never be just about me. This is not a singular journey. The top is a place where everyone I know is there with me, where I can give back. It is the point when this electricity of the local community suddenly does more than flow through me, but from me, and back in.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The road to where I am now was not easy. Even just paving a clear road is a struggle on its own, let alone the journey you begin on that path. But outside of the typical, started-from-the-bottom challenge of being an aspiring creative, my largest obstacle was my health.

Part of this hustle and 24/7 grind includes long hours, no sleep and all things your parents would classify under ‘burning the candle at both ends’. For young people with a passion, this is all part of the mania in pursuing what you love. But for me, it was not a sacrifice I could make in the name of being young.

Living in remission from cancer puts your body in a state of purgatory where you wait until things eventually go north or south. My immune system was shot. My body was tired. My energy was down. Emotionally, I was scared. I was in a state of what I hoped was repair but couldn’t be entirely certain.

Piggybacking the weight of wanting to be an artist on this uphill battle to being cured was the ultimate climb and balancing act. It created this tension where I wanted to give and sacrifice more but physically could not do it. Living with a depressed immune system means catching colds that feel like flu and staying sick for weeks instead of days. It was difficult to pursue art with this sense of restraint and feel the lash after times I’d overextend myself.

Overall, I do believe this experience has given me the tenacity I feel now. Fast forward to today, I am officially cured of cancer and after achieving the impossible, there is no other impossible that seems so impossible.

Ela Mella – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
My artwork takes on a hybrid approach, merging fine art with digital, image with text and avocados with comedy. My signature line features hand-drawn, watercolor paintings brought alive by an added digital flair, with other pieces ranging from oil works to spray paint pieces to both. The local street art scene is largely responsible for this integration of spray paint into my materials and has deep roots in my new found influences, and transformation as an artist.

My goals are to create artwork that serves as icebreakers and mood boosters and to encourage people to plug into positive outlets, recharge, and generate circuits of positivity. Positivity and community lie at the core of how I’ve found resolve within myself during the most challenging moments in my life and it is my passion to help bring this peace to those around me.

As an artist, I am most proud of creating a stylized collection that appeals to a wide and diverse array of people. It is truly magical to see both friends and strangers laugh, and start up a conversation over art. It is my goal manifested in reality.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I see success more in the abstract. Success is when what you love most is part of your every day. It’s the moment when you replace all the dreading of tomorrows with falling asleep excited to wake up again. It’s when you can offer help instead of accepting help. It’s so many things, really.

This idea that ‘making it’ is the marker for success doesn’t hold true for me. ‘Making it’ is one victory across a timeline of small wins that led you to that point, and will continue to.

Success is not a singular moment or achievement. You can continue to grow more and more successful, always. Success collects trophies but it has no limits.


  • All of my prints are available in my web store with prices starting at $10 for a 4×6 and $15 for a 5×7
  • T-shirts and coasters are also available on my web store for $15

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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