“A Day in the Life” with Calgary Dynamic Artist Anthony Russell

Anthony Russell is a dynamic artist whose vibrant spirit resonates in his artwork. His dedication to creative expression, technical proficiency, atmosphere, and the underlying messages in his pieces is evident in every creation. This intentionality extends beyond his art and is reflected in his relationships with those around him. As a teaching artist at the Arts Commons and the Jube School, he has made a significant impact on many lives. Anthony also contributes to the development of the next generation through youth ministry at the First Assembly Church. Meeting Anthony reveals the light brought into his life by Jesus. His art journey, from uncertain beginnings in high school to now living out his passions as a career, serves as an inspiring example for everyone who encounters his story.

-Written by Adeline Cawaling, partner

Anthony Russell
Stills from workshops led by Anthony Russell at Forest Lawn High School.
BTS of setting up the Ledge Gallery at Arts Commons in Downtown Calgary. Photo by: May Shi
BTS of Anthony talking about his work with the City of Calgary representatives.
Working in the Ledge Gallery at Arts Commons Downtown Calgary.
Anthony Russell with Karen Youngberg and Hidesh Isreal at the Arts Commons Education Circo Circo Fundraising Gala. Photo by: Will Young
At the Calgary Black Chambers Black History Month Dinner.
Anthony Russell
At the Realize Your Potentials Gala.
Anthony Russell
Stills from workshops led by Anthony Russell at All Saints High School.


Which ’hood are you in?

I live in the south side of Calgary now, running my creative projects from a home studio. But, I originally come from the north side of Calgary.

What do you do?

Growing up in Calgary my whole life, I have had the pleasure of making long-lasting connections to the community and the people in it. Although I was able to cultivate meaningful relationships, I also had to endure the pressure and stigma that came with being a young black male in a marginalized community. Because of these hardships, I have had to find ways to cope with the struggles I faced daily. Making and creating art was something I have done from a young age, so when it came time to combat these stigmas and stereotypes that I faced, art was the obvious and only way I knew how to fight against them.

I primarily use handmade stencils and spray paint to create my works of art however, I don’t limit myself to just these mediums. I use a variety of mixed media such as collages and found objects to capture the viewer’s attention and to draw them into the message I convey. I draw inspiration from artists such as Kehinde Wiley, Shepard Fairey, Banksy, and Barkley Hendricks contextually and stylistically to help guide my artistic practice. As well as current events, music, fashion, literature, and the community of people around me as they play a substantial part in what I do.

I spent my early years fighting against oppression, racial and social injustices, prejudice, and advocating for equity and equality. Now with a focus still on those aspects, I shifted towards celebrating the beauty, culture, and heritage of Melanin communities while educating on Social and racial Topics. Since the beginning of my career, I have had the pleasure of displaying my work through exhibitions, and galleries in Calgary as well as leading workshops, residencies, and teaching about the importance of the arts in our community in conjunction with educating about black history and minority groups. I firmly believe that we can change the current condition of our communities, country, and even the world through creation and caring.

What are you currently working on?

Presently, my artwork is on display at the Arts Commons Ledge Gallery in Downtown Calgary, and the exhibition will run until January 22nd, 2024. The gallery not only provides a showcase for my current creations but also doubles as a studio where I can actively engage in the artistic process. Looking ahead, once my time at Arts Commons concludes, I plan to shift my focus towards the realm of fashion. Drawing inspiration from the styles of the early 2000s and late 70s has always been integral to my creative journey, and I believe it’s the opportune moment to explore and integrate this facet into my artistic expression.

Where can we find your work?

As mentioned earlier, I’m currently located at Arts Commons. You can also connect with me on my website, as well as on Instagram and my YouTube channel, where I share Vlogs showcasing my creative journey.