Born in Kent, Hume worked as an assistant film editor before he gave it up in the 1980s to concentrate on art. He graduated from Goldsmiths College in 1988 and was part of the Freeze exhibition curated by Damien Hirst which brought together many of the so-called Young British Artists.
Hume's earliest notable works were his "door paintings", life-size representations of hospital doors. These proved a critical success, being shown in Germany and the United States, as well as attracting the attention of collector Charles Saatchi, who bought some of them.
Hume abandoned doors in the early 1990s, turning to smaller-scale paintings in gloss paint on aluminium. These often appropriate images from the media, including pictures of celebrities and animals. Their forms and colours are dramatically simplified, with people being reduced to just two or three colours and Snowman (1996), for example, being made up of nothing more than a small red circle sat on top of a larger red circle on a pink ground. At first, Hume used mainly bright colours, but later pieces have used more muted tones.
Hume represented Britain at the 1999 Venice Biennale where he showed his Water series, a number of superimposed line drawings of women (again, these were in gloss on aluminium).