DeCamillis studied creative writing and literature at the University of Colorado and at UCLA. After completing his studies, he moved back to Denver and learned to draw and paint while restoring a vintage UltraVan. Once finished, he and his then-wife, Dori set off on a multi-year driving tour, selling paintings at outdoor art fairs to support himself. Using a list of UltraVan owners Joe had obtained, the couple found numerous welcoming hosts along the way. Their paintings depicting interior vignettes of their hosts' homes, always unpopulated but often with evidence of recent occupation, became popular.
The DeCamillis' work sold especially well at the Magic City Art Connection, and, in 1994, while Dori was pregnant, they decided to settle in Birmingham. Their association with the art show led to "best of show" awards in 1995 and 2002, and merit awards in 1996, 1997, and 1999. David Moos curated a solo exhibition, entitled "Yourworld" at the Birmingham Museum of Art in 2000.
Inspired by the light, detail, and longevity of 16th-17th century miniatures painted on copper, DeCamillis turned to that medium, even challenging himself to create pieces smaller than postage stamps.
In 2002 the DeCamillis' marriage ended. Joe began an ongoing series named "A Drive-Thru America", using the visual language of the highway to give access to implied human stories. Drawing from his earlier creative writing days, his work now encorporates old books as a way to frame his detailed realistic small scale paintings.
DeCamillis remarried and currently lives with his wife Allison in a historic home in the Crestwood neighborhood of Birmingham. He works out of his studio behind their home.
- DeCamillis, Dori (2000) The Freeway: Two Young Artists in Love, On the Road, In Search of Home. Philadelphia: Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 073882769X
- Taylor, Terry (2007) The Altered Object: Techniques, Projects, Inspiration, Sterling Publishing Company, Inc. ISBN 1579908799
- Seale, Kathy (October 16, 2008) "Artful stories: Joe DeCamillis tells tales through his mixed media works." Birmingham News
- Joe DeCamillis website