John Platt was born in Leek, Staffordshire; he studied at the Royal College of Art, London and later held various teaching posts in arts schools in the UK, becoming Principal of Leicester School of Art and later Principal at the Blackheath Art School in London. He was for many years President of the Society of Graver-Printmakers in Colour and was commissioned an official war artist in the Second World War. He was a firm advocate of the Japanese method of woodcut printmaking, as laid out in his book Colour Woodcuts published in 1938. The use of the key block gradually diminished until the 1930s when prints were made without it. He was considered one of the best colour print artists of his generation.

Out of the Wood British Woodcuts and Wood Engravings 1890-1945, The British Council 1991