Jim McCormick was born in Chicago and attended the University of Tulsa where he received a BA and an MA degree in art. He joined the art faculty of the University of Nevada, Reno in 1960. He offered instruction in a variety of disciplines including printmaking, drawing and papermaking prior to his retirement in 1992.
In 1989, McCormick was honored with the University of Nevada, Reno Distinguished Teacher Award and in 1998 he received the Distinguished Faculty Award. The Nevada Governor's Art Award was bestowed on him in 1990. Prints and drawings by McCormack have been featured in solo and group exhibitions across the United States, including the Stremmel Gallery in Reno. His works hang in a number of private and corporate collections including U.S. Bank, Comstock Bank and Renown Medical Center. He has illustrated a number of books and co-authored Brushwork Diary published by the University of Nevada Press and An Elegant Line: The Art of the Sheppard Family, published by the Nevada Museum of Art.
Beginning in 1990, McCormick directed the Nevada Art Research Project at the Nevada Historical Society, a program that documented Nevada-related artists from the mid-19th century to the present.