Glasgow-born Coia studied at Glasgow School of Art where his teacher, Maurice Grieffenhagen, identified his abilities as a caricaturist. After college Coia eloped to London with fellow student, Marie Neale. To begin with, Coia walked the length of Fleet Street trying to sell his caricatures to the newspapers, before the ‘Sunday Chronicle’ took him onto their books. His talent was quickly recognised. After many years working in advertising during the Second World War Coia returned to Glasgow and drew caricatures for the ‘Evening Times’, followed by the ‘Daily Record’. The Record’s editor, Alastair Dunnett, went on to become editor of ‘The Scotsman’ and took Coia with him, giving him creative freedom. He remained the paper’s resident caricaturist for nearly fifty years.