Telfer Stokes was born in St Ives, Cornwall, shortly after the outbreak of World War II. His mother, influencial painter and sculptor Margaret Mellis, and his father, the art critic Adrian Stokes, were part of the wartime artistic community of St Ives.
Telfer left his parent's influence aged six, obsessed by the nearby railway in Carbis Bay, his interest in heavy engineering having been ignited. Creativity was in the blood.
His art education was consolidated when he attended the Slade School of Art. He was awarded a Beckmann Fellowship to do a postgraduate at Brooklyn Museum Art School, New York in 1962. Telfer's move to New York radically transformed his painting. Colour, surface, form and scale became predominant within a series of paintings he made during this time.
In the early seventies he started to produce Artists Books. Initially by himself, later in collaboration with others, Telfer collected his visual material together with the creative freedom and critical reception that drove him to set up his own imprint WeProductions, in 1972.