Russell Young (British, b.1959) was born in Northern England and spent his first few months in foster care. He was adopted by Ken and Lesley Young when he was four months old. The family moved further north, where the weather was cold and rainy. As a child, Young considered his world to be dark, and he developed a fascination with American culture. He disliked school and often skipped class. He enjoyed punk music and watching soccer matches. Young attended Chester Art College where he studied photography, film, and graphic design. After his parents divorced, the young artist attended Exeter Art College before moving to London.
Young was unable to find work and lived on the streets, where he met photographer Christos Raftopoulos (Australian, b.1940) and became his assistant. Raftopoulos encouraged his assistant to branch out on his own. Young began his career by photographing live punk shows. His photographs were well-received, and he began landing work for magazines and record companies. In 1986, he was hired to shoot the cover of the Faith album for pop star George Michael. He traveled to America and photographed many celebrities including Bruce Springsteen, Bjork, Paul Newman, and Diana Ross. He transitioned into television and shot over 100 videos for MTV. In 1992, the artist moved to Hollywood where he met actress Finola Hughes. The couple married that same year. Young decided it was time to branch out, and so began to paint. Young moved to New York with his wife, and became frustrated as an artist.
He spent time in Tuscany, Italy, where he practiced meditation. Young then moved to Brooklyn and developed a new technique that combined painting and photography. He produced a series of works which became known as Big Portraits. The series featured large photographs which were enhanced with acrylic paint and diamond dust. One piece, titled Reach Out & Touch Faith, features Marilyn Monroe tinted with a red hue and adorned with diamond dust and enamel. Another of his pieces, Sid Vicious, features a portrait of the singer tinted red and emblazoned with the words: "It''''s your big day in the north. It''''s your big day in the north. Love sha sher sha shy pineapple." Young remains married and resides with his wife and children in New York, where he continues to work.