Born in Vlaardingen, Erik de Graaf attended the Art Academy of Rotterdam between 1980 and 1985, where he graduated in graphic design and advertising. He spent a couple of years with the ad agency Ogilvy & Mather, before becoming creative director with the Millford design studio in The Hague. While De Graaf had been drawing since he could hold a pencil, it wasn't until in his forties that he turned to creating comics.
While suffering from a burn-out, he started making comic stories about his childhood memories in his spare time. These were published in the graphic novels 'Verbleekte herinneringen' (2003), 'Gekleurd geheugen' (2003) and 'Gevonden verleden' (2004)' by De Harmonie and Oog & Blik, and eventually collected in 'Verzamelde herinneringen' in 2010. With his Clear Line-inspired, sober and peaceful drawings, De Graaf focuses the reader on the sentiments that lie in his work.
One of his stories was published in the Drawn and Quarterly Showcase #2 from 2004, and his collected autobiographical work was published in France as 'Jeux de mémoire' in 2010. At that time, De Graaf also published 'Scherven', the first part of his diptych about two separated lovers during World War II, that is largely based on the stories of his grandmother and his uncles. Besides his personal work, De Graaf has participated in collective projects like 'Mooi Is Dat!', 'X Was Hier' and 'De Filmfanfare'.
In November 2005 Lambiek exhibited illustrations by de Graaf which were related to his autobiographical books. Together with the exhibition, a booklet called 'Ingelijste herinneringen' appeared in a signed, limited edition.