John Morra is a leading figure in the world of contemporary American realism. He was born in Meridian, Mississippi, and was raised and educated in Southern California.

He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Westmont College, Santa Barbara, California, in 1985 and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1987. Graduate study brought Morra to New York, where he received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the New York Academy of Art in 1991.

Morra has taught workshops on a regular basis at the Gage Academy in Seattle, Washington, and also the Grand Central Academy in New York City.