Renee Bates graduated from Brigham Young University in 2016 with a BFA in Illustration. In 2011, Bates was part of the Capitol Reef Project funded by the Laycock Center for Creative Collaboration in the Arts. The project included students from all disciplines of Visual Arts and concluded with an exhibit, A Private Experience in a Public Space, at BYU and also at Snow College.
In 2012, Bates and five other illustration students received ORCA Grants for an anthology project to advance the literacy of young people. The project involved the creation of graphic novels on a variety of authors and genres, from Herman Hesse to Shakespeare, and from 1001 Arabian Nights to Treasure Island.
Bates' mixed media work, The Changeling, received a Juried Selection Award and was accepted into the Society of Illustrators 2013 Student Scholarship Competition. The accepted works were displayed in an exhibit at the Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators in New York through May and June 2013, and were also published in the exhibition's catalog.
Also in 2013, Bates worked with Lauren E. Taylor to produce the Student Emmy Award winning short, Estefan, the world's greatest hair dresser who faces the challenge of a client with no hair. In 2014, she received an Oscarson Discovery Grant to intern with Leo Espinosa, a local illustrator from Columbia.