After his years as a student in Edinburgh from 1932 to 1937, William Gear received a traveling scholarship and went to Paris, where he began to study under Fernand Léger. From 1940 to 1945 Gear served in the military in the "Royal Corps of Signals" in the Middle East, Cyprus, Italy and Germany. From 1946 to 1947 William Gear was stationed in Germany as officer in charge of ensuring the security of art works in Lower Saxony ("Control Commission, Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section"). He had a studio in the castle of Celle and made friends with the painter Karl Otto Götz.
In 1947 Gear moved to Paris where he spent the following three years. He moved into a studio in the 6th Arrondissement at 13 quaie des Grands Augustins. In Paris Gear met numerous contemporary artists including Hartung, Soulages, Poliakoff, Mathieu, Atlan, Corneille, Constant, Stephen Gilbert, De Stäel and Vieira da Silva.
William Gear experimented with action painting and other techniques. The artist received many awards and honors in England. In 1958 William Gear was appointed curator of the "Towner Art Gallery" in Eastbourne, Sussex. In 1964 he was appointed head of the "Faculty of Fine Art" at the Birmingham College of Art. In 1966 he was a guest lecturer at the "National Gallery of Victoria" in Melbourne and at the "University of Western Australia" in Perth. That same year he also became a member of the "Royal Birmingham Society of Artists". In 1967 William Gear was given the "David Cargill Award" by the "Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts".
From 1975 he lived in Edgbaston near Birmingham. Between 1944 and 1988 there were thirty solo exhibitions of the artist in Europe and elsewhere and he was represented in numerous group exhibitons of the Cobra circle of artists.
William Gear died in Birmingham in 1997.