Syd Solomon was born near Uniontown, Pennsylvania in 1917. He began painting in high school at Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where he also was an All-American football player. He was offered a scholarship to Duke University for football, which he turned down because they offered no art degree. Between 1935 and 1938, he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. Solomon enlisted in the Army in July of 1941, months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. He married Ann Cohen at the end of 1941. He was assigned to the 924th Engineer Aviation Regiment. Because he was an artist, he was trained in creating camouflage from the air to be able to protect the airfields being built by his battalion. His first assignment in 1942, while stationed at Ft. Ord, California, was to design camouflage systems for the desert war in Africa.