Born in Beliatore, West Bengal, Roy studied at the Calcutta College of Art. His early works were in a western, academic style, and he was particularly influenced by Post Impressionism. However, from 1925, Roy turned to traditional Bengali art for inspiration, adopting the style of folk painters or patuas who illustrated gods and legends. His later work also features Christian themes. In the 1930s, Roy established a workshop in which apprentices helped him to produce pictures using a set of motifs. His intention was to make art which was affordable to everyone and to replace the idea of an artist having solo creative power. This was an aim also shared by Western artists such as Andy Warhol.