Jim Kay was born in 1974 in Nottinghamshire, Central England. Living near Sherwood Forest, he has always had an interest in natural history, and began drawing insects and birds at a young age. He studied Illustration at the University of Westminster, and afterwards worked as an Archive Curator at Tate Gallery in London for several years, and later became Assistant Curator of the Art and Illustrations collections at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
A solo exhibition of his illustrations in 2007 lead to commissioned work for Walker Books, and subsequently he was awarded the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal in 2012 for his work illustrating A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness. He has since had pieces exhibited at the V&A Museum, and the British Library, and provided concept work for film (A Monster Calls), and television (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell).
His other illustrated books include The Flaxfield Quartet by Toby Forward and The Great War: Stories Inspired by Objects from the First World War by A.L. Kennedy, Tracy Chevalier, Michael Morpurgo et al.
Kay is currently illustrating the entire series of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter stories for Bloomsbury Publishing, with Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone appearing in October 2015.