Peter Blake was born in Kent and studied first at the Gravesend Technical College School of Art before continuing his studies between 1953 and 1956 at the Royal College of Art in London. At the RCA Peter Blake was at the forefront of British Pop, studying alongside Patrick Caulfield, David Hockney, Pauline Boty, Derek Boshier and Peter Phillips amongst others. He was awarded the Leverhulme Research Award in 1956, to study popular art. Between 1956 and 1957 he made an extended journey to Europe (France, Italy, Spain, Holland and Belgium), and in 1961 was awarded the first Junior Prize from the John Moores Liverpool Exhibition. In 1964 he was appointed a lecturer at the Royal College of Art in London and at the Walthamstow School of Art. In 1975 he was a founder member of the group of artists called The Brotherhood of Ruralists, and from 1994 to 1996 he was Associate Artist at the National Gallery in London. Blake became a Royal Academician in 1981, was awarded a CBE in 1983 and was knighted in 2002 for services to art. There have been multiple retrospectives of his work in Britain, with the most significant including those in 1983 at the Tate and in 2008 at Tate Liverpool. In February 2005, the Sir Peter Blake Music Art Gallery, located at the University of Leeds was opened by the artist with a permanent display of 20 examples of Blake's album sleeve cover art, including the only public display of a signed print of the iconic Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover.
Peter Blake's contribution to British Pop Art is unparalleled: he is particularly well known for his use of collages and assemblages of pieces of contemporary culture in his works including posters of film and music stars, badges, photographs, advertising and postcards. Blake also frequently placed himself into these collections of popular culture, such as his iconic Self Portrait with Badges (1961; Tate Gallery, London) in which he presents himself as a rather tongue-in-cheek fan-boy. He also worked with famous bands and rock stars, producing seminal cover art for music albums including for The Beatles, Paul Weller, Band Aid and The Who.