Desiree Kelly is an award winning artist and a native to Detroit. The former Production Manager/Senior Graphic Designer for The Detroit Metro Times weekly is now known for her work as Detroit’s premiere Portrait painter. She was introduced to oil painting while studying Graphic Design at Wayne State University. Raised on the Eastside, she became inspired by the environment and developed a style of storytelling through portraits. Her portraits of public icons are historically immersive & reflect on the narrative of her subjects by including artifacts & phrases within each piece. She is known for her distinctive mixture of “street art” & traditional oil technique.  


While at Metro Times she won her first national award for Best Cover illustration featuring a painting of author Dan Savage from the (AAN) Association of Alternative Newsmedia in 2012. In 2019, she was named by Crain's Detroit Business as a "Twenty in their 20's" honoree, which highlights outstanding young leaders in business. Subsequently making her the first Visual Artist in history named to the list. She is shortlisted by Complex (magazine) as a “Rising Street Artist to Watch in Detroit” in previous years, now her work can be experienced all over metro Detroit in permanent and temporary public collections. Kelly’s work can be seen in the Coleman A. Young Municipal Building (Mayor's office), dPoP!, Kuzzo's Chicken & Waffles, Eastern Market & the historical Alger Theater in Detroit. Her work is also in Permanent Collections of museums such as Charles H Wright Museum of African American History and Flint Institute of Arts. 

She was resident artist in cycle 5 of Red Bull House of Art (now RedBull Arts) in Detroit- Eastern Market in 2013. Since she has traveled the US featuring her work in numerous Art Fairs such as Millennium Art Fair (Chicago), DIY Street Fair (Ferndale, MI), South Haven Art Fair( South Haven, MI) and opened a Pop Up Gallery during Art Basel (Miami) 2017 in Wynwood.


She has been commissioned by a growing number of clients which include The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Converse, Jack Daniels, Pandora, Kroger, City of Royal Oak(MI), Beaumont Health, Atwater Brewery , FootLocker INC , PUMA and more!


Then & Now: A Retrospective of Portraits

exhibition on view DEC 2019-March 2020   at Detroit Public Library (read more)




Not limited by canvas; my work has been used to collaborate with corporate and commercial campaigns. Providing a unique way to visually capture the audience and convey a message. My murals are personalized for your organization, creating an experience that is vibrant, full of energy and incomparable. I have collaborated with Converse, FootLocker, Beaumont Hospitals, VH1 Black Ink Chicago, DMC Sanai Grace Hospital , Atwater Brewery and the studios of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. No project is too big or too small!

Contact me to discuss your a potential project and let me bring your ideas to LIFE!



Creating a portrait for yourself or someone important in your life is an incredibly personal experience. Capture that moment in time that will last for 100's of years. Not only to be celebrated in life but to leave a legacy for family and friends. An oil painted portrait is something that has been a long standing tradition that traces back as early as the twelfth century. Oil painting is also perhaps the most dominant and popular art medium used in the history of art.


"I have been commissioned by anyone from

A-list celebrities to first time art buyers." 

Let me create your MASTERPIECE! I can create a one-of-kind painting from ANY photo in my unique style. Most of my work uses a combination of oil paint, spray paint and collage. This allows me to not only depict the subject but to tell their story. My historically immersive style allows milestones, statistics and accomplishments to be included within a piece of art. 

A custom oil portrait is the best way to preserve your memories in a unique way. 

*As a rule, I do not share your painting with the world. I respect the privacy of my collectors and clients.

I will not post commissions to my website or social media unless granted special permission.


Detroit Performs interview in the studio

"Faces of Music" exhibition at Atom Art Gallery

FootLocker POWER STORE mural

Unveiling of "Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin painting at Charles H Wright Museum of African American History





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