John Murray studied painting and sculpture at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Upon graduation, he worked in the Bureau of Printing and Engraving as a banknote designer. His painting of Abraham Lincoln can be seen engraved on the five-dollar bill. After sixteen years at this government agency, he decided to pursue art full-time. In addition to painting and sculpting, he taught at the Corcoran College of Art + Design, and worked on many restoration projects of historic landmarks in the DC area.