Despite his working-class background, Herbert Adams insisted on becoming an artist. His father discouraged him on practical grounds and was successful in getting Adams to attend technical school, at least temporarily. At eighteen, the artist worked as a taxidermist, which only increased his desire to study art—especially sculpture. After two years of hard work his patience paid off. He was allowed to enroll at the Massachusetts Normal Art School in Boston. Adams excelled in sculpture and continued his studies, first at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then in Italy, where he was particularly influenced by the work of the Renaissance period. This influence is visible in many of his portrait busts, which are colored in warm tones instead of being rendered in solid white marble. Adams combined different types of marble with wood and gold to color his marble busts, and applied stains or paints to tint the surface of his plaster works.