M V Devan was born on January 15, 1928 at Panniyannur village in Thalassery in northern Kerala. After completing his school education, he left for Madras to learn Fine Arts. Late he joined the Madras School of Arts and Crafts in 1946 and took a postgraduate diploma. He had his early training in arts and painting under many legendary masters of Fine arts.
After completing the course in Fine Arts, he returned to his homeland and joined Mathrubhumi in 1952 and served as its staff artist till 1962. Apart from illustrations, he had contributed reviews, articles and features on art and paintings to the weekly. Besides, he had held many solo exhibitions all over India.
Devan has been the secretary of Madras Lalitha Kala Academy, the Chairman of Kerala Lalithakala Academy, and was also the art consultant of FACT Engineering Design Organization.