Stephen Bell was born near Rugby in Warwickshire in 1955. He studied Art at Yeovil Technical College, Bristol Polytechnic and The Slade School in London. He has a PhD from Loughborough University of Technology. From 1989 - 2017 he was a Senior Lecturer in Computer Animation at the National Centre for Computer Animation in Bournemouth.    
    Bell's ability in art was recognised at primary school and he continued to study art throughout his school career. Art was always the subject in which he achieved his highest grades. After leaving school he joined the Art Foundation course at Yeovil Technical College from 1973-74.

At Bristol from 1974-77 he was able to learn a full range of traditional painting, sculpture and printmaking techniques.

As a postgraduate student at The Slade from 1977-79 he was able to explore the use of photography, video, installation, performance and computer graphics programming.

After graduating from The Slade he joined Florian Beigel's architectural research unit at the Polytechnic of North London from 1979-82 as a Research Assistant studying architectural geometry, lightweight structures, languages of design and the relationship between art and architecture.

He consolidated the significance of using programming in his art practice as Artist in Residence at the Computing Laboratory of the University of Kent at Canterbury from 1984-85. The residency was sponsored by the Arts Council and South East Arts.

Immediately after the residency Bell joined Prof. Ernest Edmonds' Computer-Human Interface research centre in Loughborough to explore the aesthetics of interactive computer art, leading to the award of a PhD in 1991 for his thesis "Participatory Art and Computers: Identifying, analysing and composing the characteristics of participatory art that use computer technology". The PhD was supervised by Edmonds and artist-researcher Dr Susan Tebby.

In 1989 he was appointed as a Senior Lecturer at what soon became the National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) in Bournemouth. At the NCCA for over two decades he introduced artists and animators to the creative use of computer programming in art practice.