Born in San Diego in 1971, and growing up in the small town atmosphere of Novato, California, Steven Quartly has fond memories of his childhood years. The eldest of two children to Janet and Christopher Quartly, his mother a homemaker and his father owner of a life insurance company and an artist at heart, Steven remembers happy times from his early years, playing in the woods and in the trees on the hillside near their home with his sister Karyn. School was not easy for Steven .In fact, he says, "I was a kid who struggled. I tried, but it was very difficult." Steven suffers from dyslexia and thus his parents encouraged him in the arts-painting and music. "That was the best thing for me," he says. "Most people think if kids don't do well in school, they don't have a future. But I just learned differently, I learned on a creative level. "
At the age of 13, his parents enrolled him in an oil painting class. It was mostly attended by older women artists. "It was a fun dynamic with the old ladies," he laughs. "The teacher made an exception, and let me into the adult only class." He studied there for five years, learning the techniques of a traditional style. A loft space at the family home was converted into a studio and Steven painted pictures for the neighbors of their houses and flowers for his sister. On graduating high school, he admits, "I didn't have a direction." He enrolled at Santa Barbara College where he had just enough money for two years of study, taking courses in art. Later he transferred to Azusa Pacific University near Pasadena where he was interested in music, drama, and art. He was in the university choir and also played the guitar and wrote music. He graduated with a B.A. in Fine Art. "It was like my life was filled with a miscellany of hobbies."