Richard Cole was born in Wimbledon, London, the son of Archibald George Cole, an ecclesiastical woodcarver. As he recalled later, "I grew up surrounded by my father's large wooden sculptures." In 1957, when still at school,Cole began illustrating covers for Audio Record Review - later Hi-Fi News. Cole's first political caricatures appeared in Kingston Borough News in 1970. Full-time freelance work followed with profiles and political cartoons for The Times from 1973 to 1987, editorial and political cartoons, caricatures and general illustrations for the Sunday Times from 1973 to 1995, and daily TV caricatures for the Daily Express from 1978 to 1980. In 1983 Cole became CBS News Contract Artist, covering parliamentary debates, criminal trials, etc. Since 1988 he has also produced caricatures and illustrations for the book pages of the Daily Telegraph, and, from 1995, has also drawn for the Sunday Telegraph and the Guardian. Other work has included illustrations for BBC TV's Tonight and Panorama programmes and Channel 4 News. At first influenced by the German Expressionists and David Low, in the 1980s he began a series of woodcuts, the discipline of this technique having a dramatic effect on his work. He abandoned the use of steel nib and cross-hatching and developed a much simpler linear style with a sable brush and indian ink on "Bread and Butter" paper.