Born in 1951, Bourgeois was raised on a small farm in the rural southern Louisiana community of St. Amant in Ascension Parish. After graduating from Louisiana State University with a B.F.A. in 1974 and working in New Orleans for several years, he returned to St. Amant in 1981 to live and devoted himself exclusively to painting. Bourgeois received critical acclaim for the 2004 mid-career retrospective exhibition Baby-Boom Daydreams: The Art of Douglas Bourgeois organized by the Contemporary Art Center in New Orleans. He has received awards for his work throughout his career including a Louisiana Division of the Arts Fellowship in 1992; a Southeastern Artist Fellowship from the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art and R.J. Reynolds in 1987; and Awards in the Visual Arts Fellowship from Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 1981.