Anthony Ricciardi: Painting Outside The Lines

Quitting a stable job to pursue a passion like art is always nerve-wracking, even a little risky. Knowing that, Anthony Ricciardi struck out into the art world, anyway, where he and his artistic creations have been met with unparalleled success.

Looking back, Anthony Ricciardi never envisioned that he would become a full-time artist. Sure, he loved to paint and create art, but it never seemed like a viable career. In fact, after high school he went to Alabama State University on a baseball scholarship. There he studied finance, and upon returning to Toronto Ricciardi got a job at a real estate investment fund.

Although he had this full-time job, he pursued art in his free time. “Every single night and weekend I was painting,” he says. “For about five years, I considered myself a full-time artist on the side.”

When it got to the point where he was giving up opportunities when it came to his art in order to work, he decided a life change was in order. He didn’t want to look back at his life in five years and regret not taking a chance. So, he quit his job and dedicated himself to his passion.

“There’s never the right time to do something crazy like quit your job [and] become an artist, and it definitely wasn’t the right time when I quit,” he says. “I quit a week before my wedding. I quit the day that I closed on my first house. Everything told me, You’re crazy; this is not right, don’t do it now.’”

Although Ricciardi’s father was nervous to hear about this choice, he knew that all he could do then was show his support. “[My wife and I] are the two people who encouraged him his whole life, telling him that if he worked hard enough and put all his efforts into what he was doing, it would work out,” recollects Mike Ricciardi, Anthony Ricciardi’s father. “Therefore at that moment, you can give your advice, remind him of the risks, make sure that he has thought this through, but ultimately let him do it, and reassure him that we’re there for him.”

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Thanks to this incredible support system made up of Ricciardi’s parents and his wife, Cassandra, whom Ricciardi has been with since Grade 10, he had the foundation to chase his dreams.

Since that day, his art has become incredibly popular. He’s been given the opportunity to display his work in galleries in both Yorkdale Shopping Centre and in Toronto’s Yorkville village. “I think that being in such incredible locations has been instrumental to all the growth,” he says. “The exposure and [the experience] overall have been phenomenal.”

With pieces that are every colour of the rainbow, it was shocking to find out that Ricciardi is colour-blind. You’d think that this would stand in his way as an artist, but Ricciardi has used it to his advantage, as it allows him to create the depth that he has become so recognized for.

With canvas work, murals across the globe and a clothing line, Dust of Gods, Ricciardi has done it all. But through each medium, his approach is the same: “I work in stages. I get my bases down, I get my word, my font, my this, my that and then add it all together.”

With the amazing pieces he creates, it’s only natural to think that he must have studied art, but that is not the case. “My only formal training in art besides high school was through my uncle,” says Ricciardi. “My uncle was an artist, and growing up I painted with him almost every single time I saw him.” Although his uncle passed away five years ago, Ricciardi credits his uncle for where he’s at today — it is all due to his inspiration and guidance, says Ricciardi.

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