Jan Stussy was a California painter who specialized in watercolors, oil paintings, prints, and murals. He studied art at the Art Center School in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California (USC), and Long Beach City College. His extensive travels took him to the Orient, Europe, and South America. He served in the Navy during World War II and returned to California after the war. From 1946, Stussy taught painting and printmaking at UCLA while earning his Master of Fine Arts degree from USC. He was also a technical consultant in the movie industry and did art commissions for large corporations.
Stussy began working with film in 1974 as he performed and filmed the dissection of human cadavers for his anatomy classes. He continued his interest in filmmaking and produced the documentary film Gravity is My Enemy, which focused on the struggles and achievements of a young quadriplegic art student Mark Hicks at UCLA. He won an Academy Award for producing this film, which also went on to receive nine other film festival awards.
In 1981, in celebration of his 60th birthday, he undertook his first parachute jump and broke his back. This experience resulted in a series of "jump" paintings during the next 1-1/2 years. He also did many abstract still lifes and figurative subjects.
Stussy exhibited widely in many museums and galleries throughout the United States, keeping up a high level of exhibition activity throughout his life.