Jack Hofflander was born in Waukegan, Illinois, in 1920. During his childhood, he was already entering art contests with his pencil sketches, especially using the flora, fauna, and landscapes near Lake Michigan as his subjects. After graduation from high school in 1938, he studied "life drawing" at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. During World War II he was in the Special Services Branch, where he utilized his skills to design and paint murals in military hospitals. When the war concluded, he moved to New York City, where he remained the rest of his life.