James Avati (1912-2005) actually did go to Princeton, majoring in Architecture. On the other hand, he wasn't a member of Cannon or any of the other eating clubs, so he was hardly the archetypical Princeton Man of his times.
As for "trash," he made his career painting cover illustrations for paperback books, many of which dealt with gritty subjects.
Avati was largely self-taught, though he learned perspective and something about architectural rendering at Princeton and attended a two-month Army sponsored art class in France after the war in Europe ended.
During the early years of his paperback covers career, his technique was somewhat labored. Later on, his brushwork became more economical. But the important thing was his staging and psychological insight, and this resulted in his covers driving strong sales for the various publishers he worked for. Making a decent living in commercial art apparently more than compensated for his one-time plan to be a Fine Artist.