Sydney William Martin was born in Babikin in Western Australia in 1919. His family's background was in wheat farming, and he left school at 14 to enter employment himself, initially as a packer in an electrical factory. It has been said that the owner first saw his sketches on some of the packaging material. He was so impressed that he arranged for him to instead begin work at an art studio, even secretly paying his apprentice fees. Bill Martin went on to work for a process engraver, where he would have learnt much about illustration and printmaking.
In the late 1930's, the Perth Sunday Times was the first to publish his cartoons and caricatures.
When he joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1941, he continued to draw and write articles for Wings magazine. He worked as an air gunner and wireless operator for five years before becoming involved with commercial advertising in both Perth and Melbourne. Bill Martin was the highest-paid advertising artist in Australia by the time he visited England in 1953, and was offered a job by John Junor, then editor of the Sunday Express. His successful pocket cartoons "Sunday Extra...by Martin" meant he worked his way up over 30 years, eventually becoming the art director and board member for the paper before his retirement in 1984.
He went by the name Bill and sometimes the pseudonym 'Williams' (when drawing for Sporting Life). One trademark was the circular dots above the 'I' in his signature. While he lived in a cottage in Westcott, Surrey, he was a well known figure in the Fleet Street social scene. Bill Martin died of cancer in 1993, survived by his third wife Penny and his three children.