Born in San Francisco, Amos Sewell was a ranking California tennis player in his 20s when he suffered several ignominious defeats at the hands of Donald Budge, who would go on to win titles at Wimbleton and the U.S. Open in the 1930s. Convinced he was, ahem, in the wrong racket, he quit the sport to take a position in a bank for several years. Evenings were spent studying art, and vacations consisted of trips up and down the Pacific Coast, sketching and etching. In 1931, in the middle of the Depression, he decided he was tired of banking and hopped on a lumber boat bound for New York, via the Panama Canal. Like many illustrators of the time, he got his first freelance illustration assignments from the pulp fiction world, doing inside magazine illustrations for Street & Smith Publications in New York. In 1936 he did his first major work for The Country Gentleman and began working for the Post on a regular basis the following year.