Born in Fife, Scotland in 1951, Jack left school at sixteen to become a mining engineer. On his twenty-first birthday he was given a set of watercolour paints by his then girlfriend - which encouraged him to take up painting as a hobby. Jack spent much of his spare time teaching himself to paint.
In 1987 be moved to Edinburgh and adopted the name Vettriano, taken from his mother’s Italian father, because he thought that sounded more fitting for an artist.
After quitting his job in educational research, he applied to study fine art at the University of Edinburgh, but his portfolio was rejected. In 1989, he submitted two paintings to the Royal Scottish Academy’s annual exhibition and both were accepted, selling on the first day.
The following year he entered three paintings into the prestigious Summer Exhibition at London’s Royal Academy. The enthusiasm that greeted his work was much the same and it was at this point his career as an artist took flight.
In 1999 Vettriano moved his studio to London, and exhibited 20 paintings at the International 20th Century Art Fair in New York; all had sold by the end of the first day. Vettriano was awarded an OBE for Services to Visual Arts in 2003, and in 2004 sold his most notable artwork - ‘The Singing Butler’ (created in 1992) at a Sotheby’s auction for close to £750,000 - which was the record at the time for any Scottish painting, and for any painting ever sold in Scotland. Reproductions of ‘The Singing Butler’ have left it widely regarded as one the best-selling art prints in the United Kingdom.
To this day, Vettriano continues to be active as an artist with original works commanding sizable prices. He remains a controversial figure in the art world - whose popularity has always been with the public, rather than with art critics.