Melissa “Meela” Paloma grew up on the Southwest side of Chicago. Always having an inclination toward the arts, at 12 years old she won an art scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago, Summer Youth Program. She attended Kanoon Magnet School which had an extensive Mexican culture and mural education emphasis. During her high school years and as an alternative to gang affiliation, graffiti became an artistic outlet. After her parents transferred her from Kennedy Public High School to the private all girls, Maria High School, she focused on athletics, singing in an alternative rock band and began working as a Lifeguard for Chicago Park District. She developed her artistic aptitude with her most influential art teachers Mrs. Maureen Mares and Mrs. Kelly Parra-Banos.
After attending Freshmen year at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana and not being accepted to its 30 student Graphic Design program she completed her Bachelors of Fine Art Degree from Columbia College in Chicago. She kept in touch with her Chicago women artists forming the first all female graffiti crews in Chicago, Females Can Too with Delilah “Zena” Salgado and collaborative projects with SYNERGY crew. She was selected as a Creative Intern to Y&R Chicago through the Chicago Advertising Federation, Partnership for Success Summer Internship Program. She continued her Graphic Design career working in various ad agencies throughout Chicagoland.
After the birth of her son in 2008 and leaving her fiance of 10 years. Meela transformed out of necessity to find herself personally and change the focus of her life to a positive one. In 2009, to evolve her career with technology and learn about the industry of marketing design, she enrolled in an online course to complete an Internet Marketing Masters of Science Degree from Full Sail University.
Going through years of counseling therapy she strives to live a healthy, positive life, and provide the best environment for her son while making time for her own self-care. She parents her son with love, and lives her life by example of how to be a good person, thoughtful and grateful for all of their life’s comforts. She brings him to art shows and when he was younger he would cheer for her on the sidelines at one of her Sprint Chicago Tri-athlons or one of Chicago’s 3K or 5K fun races. He now participates with her in the fun races throughout Chicago, Bike-The-Drive, Carrera de Los Muertos and Wipe Out.
In 2014 Meela was awarded the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Individual Artist Program Grant. She attended the Adobe Creative Expo in Los Angeles, started working for Walgreens, and invested in a new computer. She started her Etsy Shop, and rented an art studio space at Bridgeport Art Center.
Currently Meela works as an Internet Marketing Graphic Design Artist from her art studio at Paulina Artist Collective. Participating in local art shows, promoting her “Chingona” brand merchandise, reselling niche market items on her Depop or vending an outdoor festival. She continues to involve herself in community projects that focus on community building initiatives. Through her art and life story she hopes to promote a positive lifestyle, especially to young women and all people who may not come from privileged backgrounds or stable families, to pursue their dreams and learn to appreciate life’s journey and live in the moment.
Her career mission is to own and manager her own creative art studio, make work that inspires positivity in the world, mentor young artists and help businesses market their products or service – ethically.