Millie Velasco

Childhood and Education

Once upon a Fourth of July, a brown-eyed girl humbly came into this world along with fireworks in the sky. She was born in the Philippines in a house embraced by guava, mango, and banana trees. At age 3, her family moved to Japan on a military base, where she fell in love with cherry blossoms and sea turtles. In Japan, she spoke 3 languages and taught herself how to draw Donald Duck and Japanese cartoons, such as Doraemon.  3 years later, they moved to Northern California near San Francisco, when breakdancing and MTV hit the scene.  Her love for art continued as she drew swans and horses. Another 3 years later, Millie and her family moved to Southern California, where the family finally settled down and where she was raised in the South Bay alongside the Pacific Ocean. Fascinated by fashion magazines, interesting faces, and pop culture, she constantly filled sketchbooks with her drawings.  She excelled as an illustrator in school and as a cartoonist for her High School newspaper.  Graduating from the University of California Irvine, she started her studies with Biology with intentions of becoming a doctor, but ultimately decided to pursue Studio Art, with a strong focus on Conceptual Art, painting, digital art and web design. 

Professional Background

Prior to her art career, Millie was a professional front-end coder as well as information architect for an intense 6+ years. She helped build websites for various companies including Entrepreneur, Walt Disney World, ESPN, Honda, Toyota, Mazda, Allergan, Midway, Energizer, and more. Since 2010, Millie Velasco became a professional caricature and portrait artist and has drawn countless faces (easily over 20,000+) since she began her journey. She drew outdoors year-round for Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CA and eventually started her own caricature company called SmugMugz. Companies that she has had the honor to draw for include Mattel, Warner Brothers, Skechers, the PGA, TiVO, UBS, Jack Daniels, HBO, Netflix and more.  She continues to work as a live digital and traditional caricature artist, at various parties and events.  "Anywhere there's a DJ!" as she likes to say. 

Plein-Air Challenge

In spring of 2022, Millie completed an Instagram challenge called #PleinAirpril organized by @warriorpainters. The goal is to do a plein-air painting everyday for the month of April. After enduring the mental motivation and physical challenges of painting outdoors daily to create an original painting from scratch every day, Millie is thankful to complete the challenge!  She drove around the South Bay, capturing some of her local faves and notable local landmarks from Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach and Palos Verdes. She chronicled her journey daily via Instagram, and her story was written and published on May 5, 2022 in the Easy Reader by a local journalist that she met while painting on the beach. Millie was announced as one of the winners of the challenge by the Warrior Painters that year.

The Artist Mill

One beautiful summer day of 2023, with hard work, sweat equity, paint, supplies, sheer determination and an abundance of love, the Artist Mill was born in Hermosa Beach, California.  As soon as the freshly painted door was opened, the first painting, Day 1 from the 30 day challenge, was immediately sold to a brand new collector.  It was a fortunate and happy beginning!

Extra Activities

In addition to painting with traditional mediums such as oil, watercolors, and acrylics, Millie also loves the challenge of painting with non-traditional mediums such as soy sauce, coffee and red wine. Other art forms she practices include woodburning, sewing, embroidery, and felting wool. She also enjoys communicating with other artists as an active member of the International Society of Caricature Artists (ISCA). She has dedicated 10 years (and counting) of service as a docent in a volunteer program called “Young At Art” to bring specially curated art lessons into classrooms, and share the love of art with budding students. As a wife and mother of two, Millie finds peace caring for her vast collection of plants, including succulents, fiddle leaf figs, citrus and avocado trees, which keep her grounded.

“Whatever you are doing and wherever you are, I encourage you to go outside your comfort zone and do something you’ve been wanting to do but haven’t had a chance, or insert-reason-here. You can do it and whatever happens, I pray that it may astound you and bring you much love, peace, and joy.”

Personal Instagram: @millzvanillz