Born into a family of 14 siblings in East Los Angeles, Elias Telles joined the Marine Corps upon graduation from high school and served two years in Vietnam as a rifleman. Undiagnosed post- traumatic stress disorder ensued, and it was only by producing drawings (that he would quickly destroy) that he was able to subdue the demons. Sixteen years ago, Telles woke from a dream in which an angel holding a lit candle was descending a staircase. The next morning he tore some wood from a dilapidated fence and started painting angels on it - well into his late ‘40s at the time, this was the beginning of his very focused career as a self-taught artist.

At a local flea market one of his early paintings caught the attention of a set designer who placed it in a Steve Martin movie, "Cheaper by the Dozen." His works subsequently appeared in a number of other productions which have made Telles a sought -after artist in Hollywood. His paintings are now included in numerous collections including the film directors Michael Mann and Chantal Ackerman and the House of Blues, and he has appeared as a featured artist on the PBS series ‘Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations’.

Telles cites as influences history, early blues and country music.