After graduating from high school Russ attended the Milwaukee Institute of Technology where he took a course in Commercial Art for two years. He then continued his art education at Layton School of Art and Design in Milwaukee and graduated in 1969 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and a major in Illustration.
From 1970 until 2001 he worked for various companies as an artist designer.
Russ has been and continues to be a strong supporter for the Wisconsin chapter of Ducks Unlimited and makes regular donations to them of his artwork. Through his donations of wood carvings and decoys he helps to raise funds to promote waterfowl conservation and secure the habitat in which they live.