Ken Draper initially trained as a painter, studying at Chesterfield College of Art from 1959 to 1962 and at Kingston School of Art, London, from 1962 to 1965. He then went on to spend three years at the Sculpture Schools of the Royal College of Art from 1965. Draper taught at Goldmiths College and Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts. In 1980 he was elected to the Faculty of the British School in Rome.
Draper’s first solo show was held at the Redfern Gallery in 1969. He subsequently went on to participate in a number of solo and key group exhibitions throughout the UK, Europe and the United States. His work was included in 'British Sculptors ’72' at the Royal Academy, the 'Silver Jubilee Contemporary British Sculpture Exhibition' in Battersea Park, the '1980 British Art Show' and the 1981 'British Sculptors of the Twentieth Century', at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, and in 'The Sculpture Show' at the Hayward Gallery in 1983.
Draper received a commission for the John Dalton Building at Manchester Polytechnic in 1972 and for the Oriental Gateway for Bradford University in 1977. A retrospective of his work was shown at the Warwick Arts Trust in 1981. Throughout the 1990s, Draper became increasingly well known as a painter.
Among Draper’s awards is the sculpture prize at 'Young Contemporaries' (1965), the Mark Rothko Memorial Award (1971) and a Major Arts Council Award (1977). He was elected a Royal Academician in 1991 and lives and works in Menorca.