J.C. Fontanive was born and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and received his BA from Syracuse University, and an MA from The Royal College of Art, London. 

His work has been shown at The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, Florida; the Monash University Museum of Art, Australia; The Oliver Ranch Foundation, California; Columbus Metropolitan Library; The Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil; Gulbenkian Foundation, Portugal; Tyler Museum of Art, Texas; Museum Meermanno Huis van het Boek, The Hague; The Nassau Museum of Art, Florida; Limerick City Gallery of Art, Ireland; and, The Center for Book Arts, New York, among others. 

Fontanive was the 2018 recipient of the Stein Prize from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville, FL. He also received the Jerwood Painting Prize (2010), The Desmond Preston Drawing Prize, The Royal College of Art, and a residency at The Marble House Project, VT.

Fontanive lives and works in Bushwick, New York.