It took me about 10 minutes to detangle Russ Mills in Google. I had begun doing some basic research on the UK based illustrator and realized that the results were mixed in with RussELL Mills, a music producer and artist who is fairly well known for having done several album covers for Nine Inch Nails. The mix and match within the Google results are so heavy, that the music credit column for RussELL, features art by Russ.

I can sympathize, I was born Robert Brown. It’s one of the most common names in the country. How common is it?

I’ve only been issued one ticket by the cops my entire life. The citation was for not being able to produce proof of insurance. I had it, but the interior of the beat up yellow VW bug I drove in college was so filled with trash, I couldn’t find it. The cop said the ticket would be dismissed if I came in with the papers. When I did, the clerk couldn’t find me, there were 220 Robert Browns in the computer. When she finally found me in the system, another Robert Brown had already paid my ticket.

I used to do freelance web design. Once, one of my clients wrote out a check and left the name blank. He winked and said, “you know, so you can put in your real name.”

SEO is a fucking nightmare, I will never be able to compete with the 1970’s TV actor who made not one, not two, but THREE guest appearances on Perry Mason, an 18th century botanist who discovered fuck all who knows what, and over 50,000 maxi zoom dweebies from flyover hell.

Honestly though, it’s a burden I brought on myself. I could have been Bob, but my father is Bob. Bob is a horrible choice but his middle name was Chester so no one will fault him. As a kid I was called Eric, my middle name; but I was so shy up through middle school, that the act of interrupting role call on the first day of class to correct the teacher was such a painful endeavor, that I started going by Robert by default.

I could have flatly changed my name. I mean, Carey Grant was really Archie Leach. (So gross.) I always envied people with sick power names. I used to be friends with a guy named LANCE STEELE, he looked the part, and how could he not?

But my own ego is such that I could never change my name. Now I’m Robert Brown, not Rob, not Robbie, it’s Robert Fucking Brown.

But, uh, I think I’ve digressed just a little…

Let’s start again. Russ Mills. I honestly love this dudes work, in fact I like it better than Russell Mills work. While on the surface, they appear to be straight illustrations, his work is actually the composite of a fair amount of mixed media and scanned textures.

The portraits themselves always have an amplified beauty about them, the models all exude exaggerated cheekbones and lush, swollen pouty mouths & eyes. I don’t know why, but there is often a corn fed feeling to them, like every subject should have freckles.

You want to point out the animals? Yeah, motherfucker, even the goddamned animals look like they would have freckles. I don’t even know what this means but I can’t stop seeing them when I look at his work. Fucking freckles.

Either way, the splatter paint that shoots out over his subject’s heads like a creative shotgun murder, renders a graffiti spray art vibe that instantly gives him urban cred. Russ Mills’ work feels like street wear, it feels like skate decks, warm 40s, dirty kicks and getting attention from tattooed girls who have amazing resting bitch face and breath like bong water.

Sometimes art doesn’t need to mean anything, it just needs to be really, really good. Maybe Russ Mills illustrations does have greater introspection, but I don’t care because guess what? Yeah, it really is, really, really good.

Now if only he would change his name.

Post Script

So after the fact, I actually put my name in Google for the first time in years. I was stunned to see my fucking GOOGLE PLUS PROFILE at the bottom of the first page of results. Who could have ever imagined Google Plus was good for something?

-Robert E. Brown

Russ Mills’ Portfolio

My Portfolio

My Artist Library

I light candles to my holy trinity, Marcel Duchamp, Iggy Pop & William Burroughs. Father, Son, Holy Ghost. I pray to Johnny Rotten (Or Malcolm Mclaren, whoever you believe) I pray to Andy Warhol (Or Andy Kauffman, whoever you believe) I flog myself in the name of Arturo the Aqua Boy because in the end, nothing is ever enough.
I light candles to my holy trinity, Marcel Duchamp, Iggy Pop & William Burroughs. Father, Son, Holy Ghost. I pray to Johnny Rotten (Or Malcolm Mclaren, whoever you believe) I pray to Andy Warhol (Or Andy Kauffman, whoever you believe) I flog myself in the name of Arturo the Aqua Boy because in the end, nothing is ever enough.

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