“My work represents the diversity and color of life, laying bare the encounters with everyday people, and bringing value through my art to those who are undervalued and ignored. I want to show the beauty in subjects often disregarded by society and promote the variety of cultures that raised me.”


John, born in Philadelphia, has lived and traveled throughout the world, granting him the opportunity to meet and grow with people of vast cultures; the perspective this fosters within him is evident in the diversity of his artistic expression.

He has shown his work in solo and group exhibitions across the United States. His first exhibition was in the year 2000 in San Antonio, Texas but he has since shown in places such as New Jersey and New York City.

His work can be seen in many publications and has been used for apparel and sports products. John is a student of martial arts and trains Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In addition to collaborating with numerous martial art companies over the years, in 2014 John had the honor of creating a solo exhibition on the art of Brazilian jiu jitsu. This was the first of its kind in the United States.

John has received his degrees in Graphic Design and most recently Industrial Design from City University New York. He currently resides in Harlem, New York, living and working as a full-time contemporary artist and industrial designer.


2020 Freelancers Hub – Faces of Freelance Series
2019 Brooklyn Freelancers Union SPARK: Expert Panel Discussion: Growing your freelance business
2017 Blank Canvas TV : S01 EP41 Artist John Smalls Creates a Stunning Sculpture
2017 Blank Canvas TV : S01 EP33 Clay Sculpture by John Smalls


2014 Journey through Jiu Jitsu, Space Gallery, Long Island City, NY
2007 Visual Slang: The Modern Urban Imagination, Abrons Arts Center, NYC
2006 Touch and Feel: Messin’ with the high and low, Red Saw Gallery, Newark, NJ
2006 Enough is Enough, Weston Hall Gallery at the NJSA, Newark, NJ
2005 Expectations, The Paul Robeson Cultural Center Rutgers University, NJ
2005 Arthouse Highland Park Arts Festival, New Brunswick, NJ
2004 Hip Hop Political Convention Art and Resistance Show, Newark, NJ
2004 San Antonio Cultural Arts Huevos Rancheros Gala, San Antonio, TX
2001 Beat Kitchen Festival of Hip Hop, San Antonio, TX
2001 SA Town Poetry Slam, San Antonio, TX
2001 First Friday Art Exhibition at t he Ellis Bean Art Space, San Antonio, TX
2001 3rd Annual Mad Media Manifesto Exhibition San Antonio, TX
2000 Eye Con and Will Exhibition at the Art Asylum San Antonio, TX