Paul Davis was born in Centrahoma, Oklahoma. At fifteen he took a job with a local illustrator doing odd jobs. He left Tulsa for New York where he graduated at seventeen. New York in the early fifties was the place where a young illustrator could either flourish or be stuck in the salt mines of the art service agencies. Davis was lucky, for at this time a revolution on the method and content of illustration was beginning at The Cartoonists and Illustrators School (later renamed The School of Visual Arts) where he attended both day and night classes. "It was a turning point in American illustration", he says.