James Dowd was born in Sheffield and studied at the local school of art. Aged 15 he started work as for the Sheffield Telegraph. He made his reputation as an illustrator, particularly as a lively and sympathetic draughtsman of children. Dowd was a competent portrait painter exhibiting regularly at the Royal Academy. He contributed illustrations to books and publications, including Punch here his quick sketches accompanied the weekly film review. He contributed illustrations for the acclaimed publications: Important People (1933),People of Importance (1934), and Serious Business (1937).