John Averill, born in Missouri, went to Chicago at the age of 18 and worked for the Herald Examiner while attending the Academy of Fine Arts at night. He later worked for Sears and Roebuck Co. doing page layouts. He was with Campbell and Ross for five years before setting up his own shop in 1926. The bulk of his work was for Abbott Laboratories. In 1931 he went to work for Mills Novelty Company and in 1936 he opened up his own firm again. His clients included the Chicago Tribune, Young & Rubicam, BBD&O and Mutual Broadcasting Systems.