He studied at the Chicago Art Institute at the turn of the twentieth century where he was fortunate to be taught by John Henry Vanderpoel, whose enthusiasm for figure drawing matched that of Tonks at the Slade a generation later. Stevens moved to New York with his brother, also an artist, and immediately they began work as commercial illustrators on magazines and books. During the 1920s Dalton Stevens painted covers for several magazines that we now think of as pulp fiction, True Confessions, True Detective, Physical Culture, and Ghost Stories becoming a master of the genre. His talent saw him through the Great Depression, illustrating popular American magazines throughout. Tragically during the 1930s he began to lose his sight, until in 1939 he became totally blind and in despair took his own life at the age of sixty-one.