Tony Porter was born in Bristol on 29 December 1945. He studied in London at the Slade School of Art, between 1964 and 1968, under William Coldstream, Anthony Gross and Euan Uglow. During that time, he met his wife, Pat.
Beginning to exhibit paintings while still a student, in 1965 he showed at the Junior Common Room of Balliol College, Oxford. The college bought one of his large abstract oils. He also exhibited at Swiss galleries in Zurich and Sankt Gallen.