Baird was born in Montrose in 1904 and studied at Glasgow School of Art from 1924 to 1927. He became a close friend of James McIntosh Patrick, sharing his painstaking approach to realism. Baird returned to Montrose after graduating and lived there for the rest of his life, painting local subjects and keeping a low profile. Often described as a Scottish Surrealist, Baird is equally known for his association with the Scottish Renaissance movement. His artistic output was relatively small, due to his perfectionism, time-intensive manner of working and his early death at the age of forty-five.