Behind The Scenes With Russell Simmons and The Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series

Since 2010, BOMBAY SAPPHIRE has worked alongside Russell Simmons and his two brothers Danny and Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons’ Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation. Together, they provide emerging artists with an international platform to showcase their work. This year, The BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Artisan Series has branched out to allow Canada the opportunity to join in. The Series searched to discover the year’s next big name in in visual arts.

Thousands submit their artwork in hopes of winning and being rewarded with a platform to share their artistry with curators, collectors, and art enthusiasts around the world. The creators of the top three pieces from the Grand Finale will participate in the BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Artisan Series Mural project in each of their hometowns, and the Grand Finale Winner will receive a solo show at SCOPE Miami Beach 2017.

We caught up with Philanthropic Arts Foundation co-founder, Russell Simmons to discuss his relationship with The Artisan Series and how art can help change the world in such troubling times.


1. You and your brothers, Danny and Joseph Rev. Run, founded Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation back in 1995; can you explain how your journey with Bombay Sapphire began?
I don’t remember exactly, it was about 7 years ago. We wanted to have a program to go out into the market place, and Bombay Sapphire became our partner. They underwrote big contests nationally, and in Canada. So I can say that they’ve been big supporters from the beginning, especially when we decided to start this competition.

2. Rush Philanthropic Arts aims to bridge the gap for artists that don’t have a say or a platform to show their work, and while there’s still a long way to go, how do you feel about your progress thus far?
Well I think, that while it’s different for people, we can still do it for a lot of individuals; however, the masses may shift in consciousness regarding how important art is, and the perception of art as being some fringe idea versus art being the core of our essence. Personal expression is very very important, yet people still tend to overlook the value.

3. In the past you have stated that “art is a reflection of the times” and that “good art captures what who we are as a people and as a society”. With tensions flying in the world over race, ethnicity, and cultural differences, would you agree that now art is more important than ever with regards to reflecting on society as a whole?
Yes because art allows people to operate from the inside out, and when we operate from the inside out we see our sameness with other people. This idea of separation or segregation or hate or fear, these ideas disappear when we operate from the inside.

So we need artists to speak up because society is operating in a lot of fear right now islamophobia, anti Semitism, racism, homophobia; all of these are prominent because we don’t have the courage to look inside at the universal truth.

4. Now that you’ve expanded to Canada, are there any next steps that you’d like to take the Artisan Series in the next couple of years? Do you see any ways to improve or expand?
For now, we’re going to keep our head down and concentrate on this project. We want to do a good job here, and I’m confident that it will grow on its own.

For more information on The BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Artisan Series, please visit
For more information on The Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, please visit
Source and photography courtesy of BOMBAY SAPPHIRE and Russell Simmons Twitter page


Behind The Scenes With Russell Simmons and The Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series