Ted Snell was born in 1949, at Geraldton, Western Australia. After completing an Associateship in Art Teaching he travelled to England to undertake postgraduate study in Birmingham. He returned to Australia and began teaching part-time at WAIT (now Curtin University of Technology), where he was Professor of Contemporary Art and Dean of Art, John Curtin Gallery. In 2009 he was appointed as Director of the Cultural Precinct at the University of Western Australia.
Over the past two decades he has contributed to the national arts agenda through his role as Chair of the Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools, Chair of Artbank, Chair of the Asialink Visual Arts Advisory Committee, as a Board member of the National Association for the Visual Arts and until 2013 as Chair of the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council. He is currently Chair of the Australian Experimental Art Foundation (AEAF) in Adelaide.
He has been a commentator on the arts for ABC radio and television and is currently art reviewer for The Australian and a regular contributor to local and national journals. He has published several books and has curated numerous exhibitions, many of which document the visual culture of Western Australia. Ted Snell is also a visual artist and since 1968 he has shown his work in solo exhibitions in Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane, and in numerous group exhibition. His work is represented in many public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of Western Australia and Artbank.