James Edward Ramage was born in Rochester, New York, and raised in Toledo, Ohio and Skaneateles, New York.
As a child, Ramage studied at The Toledo Museum of Art in art and music appreciation. He painted his first oil at 10 which was featured in an exhibit in a Toledo bank. He went to high school at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio, where over the course of four years he wrote three musical compositions that were performed by the school orchestra augmented by members of the Cleveland Orchestra. In his senior year he wrote and scored a modern march for full orchestra that was also performed there.
He attended Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration and designed invitations and decorations for the Hotel school's annual hosting for the industry. He also wrote and scored a jazz ballet for 12 instruments that was performed in the Alice Statler Auditorium at Cornell.
Ramage later enrolled at Syracuse University and graduated with a BFA in painting. He then relocated to New York City and worked in graphic design for various publishers. While at John Wiley & Sons, he designed a promotion piece that won an award by the printing industry. At Ballantine Books Ramage designed the first Star Wars paperback cover and designed an entire line of science fiction books for Del Rey Books. He was promoted to assistant art director until he left to do freelance work for the publishing industry.
He designed maps for a travel guide in the early 1990s using the computer and later was commissioned to do artwork for Dr. Benjamin Cohen, a renowned retinologist. A photo shoot was executed in his OR of 80 non-flash photographs during an eye surgery operation.
In 2012 Ramage had a retrospective of his artwork from 1961 to the present in his Upper West Side apartment including watercolors, silverpoint drawings, woodcuts, lithographs, etchings, pen and ink drawings, graphite drawings, pastel drawings, white chalk drawings, gouaches, posters, collage, smoked copper etchings and oil paintings.
In the spring of 2013, a poster by Ramage was presented at the Greene Space in lower manhattan in conjunction with the centennial celbration of Igor Stravinsky's masterpiece "The Rite of Spring". Vicky Chow, pianist, performed the work live on May 29, 2013.