Rivers of Steel Arts is excited to launch the 2020 Mon Valley Featured Artist Series. Showcasing some of the exciting creative professionals working across the Mon Valley Creative Corridor, this weekly blog highlights multiple artists each month—from a variety of boroughs—to provide a snapshot of the region’s growing cultural vitality.
About Jarrod Russell
This weekly series was launched with the desire to not only showcase the many talented creative professionals familiar to Rivers of Steel, but also with a hope that our project might also introduce us to new artists who call the Mon valley home. Our first artist feature for the month of May, 2020 does just that, by traveling upriver to the Mon Valley community of Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania for a look at tattoo artist and pop-surrealist painter Jarrod Russell.
A Message from Jarrod
About My Work
I currently work at Black Star Tattoo in Belle Vernon, PA. I was born in 1971 in the Mon Valley, and grew up in Charleroi, PA. I graduated from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 1992 and began tattooing in 1993 before opening up Black Star Tattoo in 2006.
I’ve always been interested in painting, but took a more serious interest in the medium around 2003. Through my artwork, I try to show a youthful sense of adventure, and on occasion include some social and political opinions based on personal experiences. At some point, the lower jaws were removed from my characters, taking away their ability to speak. It felt like an opportunity for the observer to make his or her own story from my painting.
My Home in the Mon Valley
Although I now live in Lawrenceville, I still work and will always be connected to the Mon Valley. I grew up in a once-thriving town, and seeing its decline and struggle to rise up has been disheartening. That being said, I feel there is a growing positive momentum throughout the Mon Valley demonstrated by many people moving forward and up in their community. This experience has affected me as an artist, and continues to influence the content of my artwork.
The people of the Valley have always been supportive of our business at Black Star Tattoo, and it goes without saying, thank you all.
Find Me Online
You can check out my work as a tattoo artist on Instagram or at the shop Black Star Tattoo, in Belle Vernon, PA.
Facebook: Jarrod Russell Art
Instagram: Black Star Tattoo