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INTERVIEW: Russell Young, Silkscreen Icon, Talks Travel, Inspiration And His Work At The White Room Gallery

Sydney A. Braat

Marilyn Crying in Blood Red. (Courtesy Photo)

When the worlds of art and travel collide, pure magic happens. Russell Young, a British-born and California-based artist, has made a name for himself after nearly four decades in the creative industry.

He started out in the music industry directing 100 music videos at the height of excitement for MTV all while pursuing photography. His early portfolio included shooting portraits of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Diana Ross, Paul Newman and more. After relocating from England to the United States, Young gained notoriety for his silkscreen on canvas. His subjects include famous faces like Marilyn Monroe, Bridget Bardot, Jackie O, Kate Moss, Mick Jagger and more. Young also famously began using diamond dust in 2007 which can be seen on his silkscreens.

Bridget Bardot in St Tropez Blue. (Courtesy Photo)

When asked how he got his start in the art world, Young said, "My father opened my eyes to the world of art. My parents had books all over the house on Marilyn and other public figures. They were always reading biographies and consuming."

One of the most interesting aspects about Russell Young is his love of travel. His gallivanting nature began as a young child when his father would take him on business trips sporadically. He would be picked up from school and swept off to Italy. That behavior continued in his teens and twenties when he knew he had to escape England for the United States. "I knew at an early age I had to escape Northern England. I always loved California. In a sense, it took me ten years of living in London to move to California. I basically ran as far away from England as I could. I ran into the ocean almost," reflected Young.

Fast-forward several decades, Young is doing the same with his own three children. "I travel with my children as well. We've been to Peru, China, and all over Europe. We see every cultural thing in all those places. I am continuing my father's legacy," said Young.

Travel isn't always glamorous to Young, though. While he gains inspiration from the cathedrals and museums across Europe, often times the simplicity of a rock in the Californian desert can evoke more ideas. "I'm also trying to teach my children that you don't have to be in a fancy hotel when you travel. My kids get bored but it's not a bad thing. As an artist it's important to be bored sometimes and go through that process."

It's plain and simple for Young: "When you travel you get to see so much. Travel is everything to me."

Young reflected, "I was traveling with my three kids in Hawaii on Kauai. There's the Grand Canyon of the Hawaiian Islands. It's really beautiful rich red rock. I saw a vein of this rock about 500 feet up. It was so red and shiny. I climbed up the mountain, grabbed some part of the rocks, mashed it up and then made paint out of this rock with my children."

James Dean. (Courtesy Photo)

Most of Young's backgrounds for his paintings include paint he created himself. "I go to Italy and the owner of this shop has a basement full of pigments that don't exist in most places. I can spend a full day sorting through them all."

Creating paintings, taking photographs, and making silkscreens isn't where Young's creativity ends. Quarantine has specifically evoked a passion for poetry, which influences the paintings he has created during the past six months.

The global pandemic has clearly put a strain on the ways consumers see and experience art. Young was determined to open up his world to his followers and community. "I started posting things on my social media so people could see my daily process of creating art - how I lay my paints out and daily activities. I wanted to use this time of quarantine for good."

New York holds a special place in Young's heart. While California is his home, New York is where many of his creative successes have taken place. "I first went to New York in the late '70s. It was incredible and edgy," Young recalled.

He also has a very personal tie to the Hamptons community. "I used to have a gallery in the Hamptons 15 years ago for about 4-5 years. I'd been thinking about working with a gallery in the Hamptons and was then introduced to Andrea & Kat of The White Room Gallery at Art Basel. They're so lovely and have great enthusiasm and energy. When March came, I could see New York emptying and heading to the Hamptons. They were enthusiastic to show my work and now they're open with social distancing. I liked that The White Room Gallery is right on Main Street in Bridgehampton and the world could see my paintings again. It felt super optimistic," he noted.

Russell Young's work is displayed at The White Room Gallery for two exhibitions: Pop Starz (August 12 through September 6) and XX Factor (September 9 through October 4). You can view his famous silkscreens of Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Kate Moss, and Bardot in person, in a variety of colors at The White Room Gallery in Bridgehampton. Additionally, check out a virtual 3D matterport tour of the exhibit here.

The White Room Gallery is located at 2415 Main Street, Bridgehampton. To learn more about the Gallery and Russell Young's work, visit www.thewhiteroom.gallery.

Sydney Braat is a Hamptons-raised and NYC-living journalist. She enjoys splitting her time between the bustling city life and relaxing atmosphere of the Hamptons. When she's not writing, Sydney is traveling. She thrives off of new experiences, cultures, cuisine, and languages. Sydney writes about the arts, philanthropy, food & wine, and shopping. https://www.sosydneyny.com/ sydneybraat

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