From an early age, Lee identified himself as an artist. He went to Monsey Grammar School and Spring Valley High School in New York state. He attended college at Calvin College, a conservative church school in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and was called a beatnik while there. He was the catoonist for the college paper and was considered a trouble maker for his avant-garde paintings and blasphemous poetry.
Upon discharge from the army, Lee became acquainted with contemporary San Francisco poster art and moved to San Francisco to try his hand. His work was an immediate success and he produced posters from 1968 -1970 when he published a book of his drawing titled Viva La Mutation