Victor Fair was born in Chadwell Heath, Essex, on 18 March 1938. His father was an industrial designer for Ford who died when Victor was aged four. He left school aged 16 and got a job as a messenger boy for the Hector Hughes design agency and attended life drawing classes at St Martin's School of Art in the evening. After Hector Hughes he worked at the Dixons agency.
In the mid 1950s, Fair started his national service in the British Army when he served in Cyprus during the EOKA guerrilla campaign.
He could have avoided service, having previously suffered from tuberculosis and other medical conditions, but saw his enlistment as an opportunity to get away from a claustrophobic home life with his mother and sister where he was the man of the house following his father's death. One of his jobs in the army was to search villages for weapons but he was more often to be found sketching the natives.