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Meet The Artist: Russell Nielsen

Local artist/author Russell Nielsen has lived in Utah all his life. He grew up in the city of Kaysville and graduated from Davis High school. He married his sweetheart, Janelle (Jae) Nielsen, who he met while serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He has been diligently teaching his little boy to love art as much as his father. He loves to spend time with his wife and little boy creating art and enjoying the Marvel cinematic universe among many other hobbies. Russell has also written a two-book action-adventure series which can be purchased on amazon.


Russell’s interests have also expanded into learning American Sign Language and embracing the deaf / hard-of-hearing community with his wife. His Wife has been hard of hearing for many years and works as an interpreter for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.


Training

Russell started creating art at a young age like many artists before him, drawing cartoon characters, coloring in books and all the fun, creative outlets that young children enjoy. At about age 13 he realized that he had a knack for portraiture when he drew a picture of Neil Armstrong for a class project. Aside from mandatory classes in public school Russell never really had any formal art training. He has largely achieved his level of success from practice—years of practice, sketching his favorite animated characters and creating some of his own. He finds a lot of joy in creating crossover works with Disney characters and Marvel comic characters.


Russell is currently attending classes to learn more about graphic arts at Utah Valley University (UVU). He plans to get started with his art tuition by working through the classes at UVU and is hoping to get into the art program at Brigham Young University (BYU). Russell is hoping to pursue graphic design as a career with the eventual goal of employment opportunities with a “non-specific, mouse-themed studio.”


His Inspiration

When asked who inspired Russell to take more interest in art he responded, “Oddly my cousin did. I saw a doodle he made on his wall of cartoon characters that I thought were really cool when I was about 7. I saw them again later and even he admitted that they weren't all that good.”


The first time that Russell ever thought about getting more serious about and marketing his art came when a coworker of his saw some of his work and hired him to design logos for his paintball team. With the realization that his art was in demand and the confidence boost of his first commissioned piece, Russell started to think more seriously about his hobby as a job.


Who Is Russell’s Favorite Artist?

A person’s perception of art is as individual as a fingerprint. This being said the artists that Russell admires inspire him to create in the same way that a catchy piece of music makes your toes want to tap. The artists that inspire Russell have a wide variety of styles and subject matter, for their art varies from religious to action and adventure themes. Artist Jon McNaughton created a riveting piece called “Peace is Coming” that Russell has come to love and admire.


“‘Peace is Coming’ by Jon Mcnaughton is an all-time favorite, and nearly the entire run by Michael Bendis in Marvel comics was beautiful,” said Russell.



Russell says that he also really admires the early artists at Marvel; Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and Jack Kirby. The reason is that Russell believes they created characters that are so iconic that they are inherently recognizable. Spider Man, Captain America and the hundreds of other superhero characters found in comic books and film. These characters inspire their fans to be brave, kind, loyal and many other admirable traits. They are also great fuel for fan fiction, fan art, and conventions.


The characters created by these artists were originally popularized in comic books and children’s cartoons. The franchise around the characters has grown and morphed into such a popular genre that they are universally loved and recognized.


About the Art

Russell’s early works included anime-style action-packed characters and a lot of fan art style works. He would draw pictures of his friends and family members in the anime style. A lot of his other works of art were mostly of his favorite cartoon and comic book characters. In recent years his artistic style has shifted more toward pencil sketches and portraits. He practices often and has a natural affinity toward the work. Russell really enjoys using graphite on paper, ink, and markers to create his works of art, but has also come to embrace and excel in the use of digital mediums as well. His current focus, for the fun, personally motivated side of art and creation, is leaning more toward using digital canvas. He enjoys the freedom it seems to provide.


Russell, like many artists, feels that creating art helps him to unwind and he loves to lose himself in his work. When asked what he likes best about art, Russell responded, “It creates a time and place I can go to have peace and freedom to do what I want.”


Inspired by his favorite Marvel artists he loves to create image mashups of different characters. The best example of these efforts is in the series he drew using Mickey Mouse and friends to assemble the Avengers. He reimagined each character based on their personalities and which ones were best matched with their Avenger’s counterparts. The series is a lot of fun and hopefully, he can work out a deal with Disney sometime soon and be able to sell his fun twist on some of his favorite characters.


Donald Duck as Iron Man, Goofy as Thor, Launchpad McQuack as The Hulk
Some of Rusell’s crossover work with Disney and Marvel characters

Want One Too?

If you would like to have one of Russell’s carefully crafted works of art for your very own keepsake he can be contacted at drawnbyruss.wordpress.com.


And the cost, “It really depends on the scope of work. But I start at $100 for singles and go up depending on size and detail.”


How long does it take Russell to create one piece? “It can take anywhere from two to four hours typically. Lately, I've been asked to draw a lot of loved ones that have passed away. This has been very flattering to me as these end up being treasured for life by the people I draw them for. And I take these very seriously for that reason.”




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