McKean was born in Taplow Berkshire in 1963. He studied at Berkshire College of Art and Design in 1982 for 4 years. Before leaving the college he started working as an illustrator. He started working with an author in 1986, Neil Gaiman; their first book ‘Violent Cases’ was very successful and was printed worldwide. Other books they collaborated together with include ‘Black Orchid’, ‘Signal to Noise’ and ‘Mr. Punch’. McKean also illustrated the graphic novel ‘Arkham Asylum’ in 1898. These are currently the most successful graphic novels of all time. He is also the creator of various album covers for famous artists, including Alice Cooper and Tori Amos. He has worked in various areas of digital image creation, as he now holds many titles, as an illustrator, photographer, comic book artist, graphic designer, filmmaker and musician.
Most of his recent work requires the use of a computer. He uses digital elements such as cameras and computers to take photos and then manipulate the images. He also experiments with programs to create different effects. The subject of his work depends on whom he is working with; it may be related to the story when working on book illustrations, or the genre of music when working with album covers etc.
He once mentioned he doesn’t enjoy the ‘crispness, cleanness and shininess’ that you can achieve with photo manipulation, therefore he uses it to create the complete opposite. Instead, he uses it to create imprecise lines and texture. The composition of his work often shows the main subject to be fairly centralised, although it can vary from piece to piece. His pieces often feature a lot of dark colours and are usually encased in blackness.