Pryde was born in Edinburgh and studied at the Royal Scottish Academy Schools from 1886 to 1887. He grew up with a love of the theatre and even worked for a time (without much success) as an actor. Living in London from 1890, Pryde and his brother-in-law William Nicholson (portrayed in William Orpen's 'A Bloomsbury Family') set up a partnership as poster artists under the name 'The Beggarstaff Brothers'. Their modern, simplified style revolutionised poster design. As a painter, Pryde specialised in dark interiors and architectural fantasies. The majority of these works were done before 1925, though he did produce some designs for theatre sets later in life.