Born in Hammersmith in 1911, Ruskin Spear attended the Hammersmith School of Art, followed by the Royal College of Art, London. After graduating he taught at Croydon School of Art, eventually returning to the Royal College to teach between 1948 and 1975. Wheelchair-bound due to childhood polio, Spear's art often focused on his local area of Hammersmith; sketching people in the nearby pubs, shops and theatres. Spear was elected to the Royal Academy in 1954 and awarded a CBE in 1979. A retrospective was held at the Royal Academy in 1980. His work is currently held in many major galleries including the Tate, the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts.