‘Willis attended the Vesper George Art School and gravitated toward the film industry in California. As a handsome young man, he landed some small roles as an actor, including a part in Alice Adams with Katherine Hepburn. Art was his prime interest, however, and he found work at Warner Brothers Studio in publicity and in making compositional set designs. He worked alongside another ambitious young artist, Joe DeMers, and they began to collaborate, often doing parts of the same drawing. They continued the practice after Esquire asked them to create a series of pin-ups for a new “Esquire Gallery” series to which both signed their names. The pin-ups were a great popular success, but eventually the two went their separate ways.
Willis went on to illustrate for Collier’s, Redbook, The Saturday Evening Post, and for many advertisers, such as Pepsi Cola, Springmaid Cotton Mills, Gilbert Quality Papers, Max Factor, Crown Zellerbach, Rose Marie Reid, and the Ice Follies program covers. He did a fifteen-year series of calendars for Brown & Bigelow, including an “Artist’s Sketchbook” pin-up series. Among his books were instruction titles for Walter Foster publishers, such as Art Shortcuts, Secret to Still-life Painting, and Faces and Features. He also wrote and illustrated a children’s book, ‘Me, Too’.’