Norman Ackroyd was born on 26 March 1938 in Leeds, Yorkshire. He attended Leeds College of Art from 1957 to 1961 and the Royal College of Art, London from 1961 to 1964, where he studied under Julian Trevelyan. Subsequently, he lived for several years in the United States. He was elected to the Royal Academy of Art in 1988 and appointed Professor of Etching, University of the Arts, in 1994. He was elected Senior Fellow of the Royal College of Art in 2000, and in 2007 was made CBE for services to Engraving and Printing.
Ackroyd's work can be found in several British and American galleries including the Zillah Bell Gallery (which holds the largest collection of his work in the North of England), the Tate, the British Museum, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington. He has been in several television programmes, including BBC documentaries.