Roy De Forest was born in North Platte, Nebraska to migrant farm workers during the Great Depression. De Forest's family lost their farm in Nebraska due to the harsh economic conditions during the Great Depression and were forced to move to Yakima, Washington. In Yakima, the De Forest's bought a new farm, where they harvested pears and plums. De Forest described the socio-economic status of his family as ‘not well off". Farm life had an important impact on De Forest's art. In his early art, De Forest experimented with landscape, which was inspired by the open land of his farm. Later in his career, De Forest began painting animals and other fantasy creatures in his art, which was inspired by growing up around farm animals
De Forest is most known for the use of animals and fantasy creatures in his art, in particular, dogs. He became inspired to use animals in his artwork because he grew up on a farm and was constantly surrounded by dogs, cows, horses and other animals. He enjoyed adding creatures into his art because they reminded him of his past. De Forest believed that these animals also made his paintings more fun to make.