Born in 1940, at Ulu Sungai Ara, Penang, he recieved his education at the Specialist Teacher Training Institute, Kuala Lumpur in1967, before furthering his studies to the Degree level in Universiti Sains Malaysia in 1975 followed by an MFA from Washington State University in 1979.

After returning to Malaysia, he taught art in high schools for some years, before coming back to Universiti Sains Malaysia, where he served as a lecturer in the  visual arts department, after some time, he became the dean of Pusat Seni (Centre of the Arts). He is also a founding member of Aliran.In 2010, Ismail Hashim was given a honorary  retrospective, at the Penang State Museum.Ismail  Hashim is known as an artist and photographer that had ben an influence and referrenced by new generation of artists and photographer.Ismail Hashim had passed away at the age of 73,due to a traffic accident in 2013,leaving a legacy of Malaysia Photographic Arts.