Students studying Grade 11 Visual Art at St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) recently received a virtual visit from renowned Toronto artist, Anthony Ricciardi.
“Anthony is a professional artist from Toronto who has travelled and displayed his work internationally,” says Mark Viola ’97, visual arts and technological design teacher at SMCS. “His work combines images from popular culture with elements of street culture and graffiti. The overriding message in his work is positivity.”
Ricciardi grew up in Toronto and attended Alabama State University on a Division 1 baseball scholarship. After graduating with a degree in finance, he returned to Toronto to begin his career with a local investment firm. Five years into his budding career, Ricciardi made the life-altering decision to leave finance and chase his true passion for art.
“‘Follow your passion and not what will make you the most money.’ This was one of the lines that I took away from the session we had with Anthony Ricciardi,” says Joseph Rebello, Grade 11 student at SMCS.
“His story of chasing his early childhood dreams and becoming a professional artist speaks to our students,” says Viola. “As our Grade 11s make decisions about post-secondary options, it is important for them to realize that following their dreams and doing something that they are passionate about is what is really important.”
Ricciardi’s talk not only addressed his journey chasing his dreams, but the process he goes through as an artist. He shared with students the countless number of paintings he has that were in various stages of development, and the commitment and work ethic required to be successful.
“My goal for bringing Anthony into the classroom was to give students a realistic look at how an artist works,” says Viola. “It was eye-opening for students to realize that an artist does not work on one artwork at a time, but rather has multiple pieces at different stages all the time.”
“One of the biggest takeaways from this session was that if we want to sell art we must always be working on at least the base layer of a painting,” says Rebello. “Then when you want to go back to finish a painting, you already have the whole base layer done and a variety of painting designs to choose from. That way it is a constant cycle and you don’t fall behind with demand.”
Ricciardi’s private collection consists of commissioned murals and exclusive artworks that have been shown worldwide in Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, Miami, London, Manchester, and Montreal.
“He also spent time during the session talking to students about the work they are doing and the importance of finding happiness in what they do,” adds Viola. “Realizing that the things they spend hours on outside of school or work hours can become what they do for a living.”