Born in London, England, Amess came to Canada in 1913 and studied at the Vancouver School of Art under Frederick Varley, graduating in 1929. He went back to England to study at the Reimann School of Art, London, under Stanley Herbert before returning to Canada to join the teaching staff of the Vancouver School of Art in 1930. He became the school's principal in 1950, a position which he held until his death.
Amess, an early Vancouver advocate of the commercial silkscreen process, was primarily a landscape painter. He started his painting career using oils, but later favored watercolor. His work is represented in the VAG.