Simon Atack was born in 1957. Early on he discovered a passion for drawing and painting aircraft, eventually learning to fly them and is one of very few artists who can paint from the direct experience of flying solo and with a pilot's working knowledge.
At the age of seven, his mother nurtured his talent and he was fortunate to attend a school where creative ability was valued. He adored History, Mathematics and English but he was the outstanding pupil artist and, encouraged by his art teacher, went on to Wakefield College of Art. His passion for Art History has made him a widely recognised scholar in painting and drawing from the Renaissance to modern contemporary art. After art college he joined the Royal Air Force having much enjoyed being a Cadet.
After Simon’s commanding officer saw his sketches of ground crews preparing RAF and Royal Navy Harriers for a combat sortie over the Falklands, he was asked to make drawings for the Squadron messes and offices. These were seen by those with influence and soon he had become a Service artist, painting and drawing the RAF Commands at home and abroad.
Aware of the world beyond the RAF that would enjoy his art, Simon left in the mid-1980s to begin a career as a military aviation artist. He joined the Guild of Aviation Artists. One great moment was meeting his boyhood heroes, the aviation artist Roy Cross and wildlife painter David Shepherd. Roy was the artist whose aviation and maritime paintings were the box art illustrating Airfix kits. Simon's first appreciation that ships and aircraft could make beautiful works of art came from his hobby of model making and the stunning artwork Roy made.
These two men were the most influential figures in Simon's early career. Throughout the 1990s Simon exhibited with the Guild and worked for private clients before a major breakthrough came his way. In 2000, Pat Barnard, the owner of The Military Gallery, Bath commissioned a series of warship paintings and the success of these led to Simon painting aviation and maritime subjects for the gallery for seven years. Many of the paintings he produced during that time are regarded as some of the finest examples of ship and aircraft paintings.
Simon’s paintings and pencil drawings are collected worldwide, by galleries, museums, armed forces and private individuals. His work has included film and TV drama, illustration for books and editorial features and he is recognised as one of the world's foremost military aviation and naval artists.
He finds his focus has moved more towards the human part of the story, the pilots and aircrews who had to face and endure aerial warfare in whatever aircraft were available to them at the time, as much as the aircraft itself.