Meet Kelli DePaolis: Artist Untamed


By Sarah Somers

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

This well-known Ralph Emerson quote is lived everyday by DearCo artist Kelli DePaolis. Last summer Kelli and I were connected via mutual friends and as soon as we spoke, I just knew we had to collaborate. A decision was made – and from then on we had the Universe on our side! Three fabulous scarf designs and one Miami Art Week live art activation later, I can say that Kelli is not just an incredibly talented and creative artist, but also a kind soul leaving a trail of positivity along the path of pursuing her dreams.  

While fashion has always been a significant influence on Kelli’s art, collaborating with DESEDA was an opportunity to bring her artistic vision to accessories for the first time. Her UNTAMED scarf design was inspired by the inner wild child that every fierce and independent woman refuses to let go of (yessss!).  With her DESEDA GIRLS scarf design Kelli delivers a bright, bold illustration of those fashionistas that are never without their favorite accessory – the silk scarf 😍. Our most recent scarf release, SAY MY NAME is particularly special to us as it is based on a wall mural created for our first ever DESEDA pop-up. With her signature Kelli Font, Kelli helped infuse our brand identity into our new space. Seeing DESEDA (rooted in the Spanish words meaning both “wish” and “of silk”) repeated on that wall is a continual reminder that with passion, hard work and a little help from the Universe, our dreams of building a brand focused on celebrating creativity are being realized. Our pop-up visitors felt the mural’s energy as well - and after many special requests - we made the artwork into a scarf for all to enjoy! It’s such a treat to have Kelli as part of the DESEDA Artist Collective (DearCo), and we are thrilled to share more about her in this interview. Let’s Make Ties with Kelli…Read on!

DESEDA Artist Collective (DearCo) Artist: 
Kelli DePaolis 

Current Location: 
Chicago, IL

Inverness, IL

DESEDA Scarf Designs: Untamed, DESEDA Girls, and DESEDA's newest scarf release Say My Name



Please introduce yourself and share what you do!

I’m Kelli. I am an artist living in Chicago.  I love painting murals on walls and large scale canvases as well as making spontaneous drawings on the wine sleeves I collect. My work typically has an abstract, scratchy feel and incorporates many textures and bold colors - my signatures! 


What was your path to becoming a creative?

I’ve always had a love for art. As a kid, I painted flower pots and sold them at my town’s sidewalk sale. My mom always threw me in art classes after school, and I just stuck with it. After I graduated college, I lost touch with my art and didn’t practice for years! Then one day, one of my best friends, Natalie, told me I should get back into drawing what I love and post it to Instagram. With her encouragement, I started to get back into my art, and it became something I'll never let go of again. Art has saved me in so many ways I would have never predicted, and I am so grateful for it.

How do you describe your work? And, what do you hope others take away from your work?

I would describe my work as a mix of emotions - however it ultimately brings positive energy to where it resides and leaves the viewer with good vibes. It’s either colorful or it’s black and white; sometimes a bit metallic perhaps. It’s scratchy, drippy, uneven, and not the least bit perfect - kind of like life? Haha! When I decide a piece is complete, it just makes sense (at least to me). I really love Bob Ross’s quote “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” It’s true you know. I hope others take away a sense of joy from my art and let it inspire them in some way. What’s the point of art if it doesn’t create some bit of joy?


What motivates you to do what you do?

Passion - if I’m not making art or doing something creative, I go crazy!

Where do you find your most significant inspiration?

While I’m running and listening to music, I let my mind wander and think of the most random things! Colors, patterns, objects - I just mesh it all together and see where it goes!

What are the plans for the next phase of your artistic and/or professional journey?

Developing a new style with which I can create a large canvas series. 

What is/are the signature element(s) of your personal style?

Paint drips and splatters, scratchy lines, edgy and a bit messy 😜

What music is on heavy rotation for you right now?

Kings of Leon

What is the favorite place you’ve visited?

Tulum 😍

What is the last thing that really caught your eye or got stuck in your head?

The “How to be an Artist” article series on

What are your favorite websites and/or Instagram profiles?

Meagan Morrison (@travelwritedraw),, and Fallon Ryan (@fallonpr)

What’s on your current wish list? (Can be any things, places or experiences!)

I keep thinking about being on a boat off the Amalfi Coast - I've never been. I just picture myself laying on one of those nets with the sea beneath me, sipping champagne, looking at all the colorful houses and buildings off the coast, and eating off a charcuterie board. Yes, this is very specific and definitely on my wish list. But, for the near future my wish list includes a PRP facial from the Northwestern MedSpa and a 12-yard roll of 60” primed canvas from Blick.

What’s the best nugget of advice you’ve received and would like to share with others?

So cliche, but seriously, you’ve gotta let go of all worries. They are just conspiracy theories your mind makes up. Find something that brings you joy in life and schedule time for it. Try to always bring yourself to the present moment. Every single human has a purpose for being here and your life is meaningful.

And, we’d love to wrap up with the two signature questions that we refer to as the “Double Knot” 😊:

Please share an example of a time in your life where you said, “why not” and took on a big risk, challenge or leap of faith!

I think leaving the corporate world to pursue art on a larger scale has been my greatest leap yet.

Please share why you “made ties” with DESEDA and teamed up to create an original scarf design with us!

DESEDA had me hooked as soon as I heard you were building a brand that is supporting living artists around the world. It's incredible. Fashion was my first love in life and my childhood dream was to be a fashion designer. DESEDA made that dream possible for me! I have designed 3 scarves for DESEDA - each are a fashion statement of their own and I couldn’t be more grateful. 🖤


Note: all photos courtesy of @hautemod and @shopdeseda