Pringle was born in the East End of Glasgow. He left school at the age of twelve and was apprenticed to an optician, establishing his own shop in Glasgow in 1896. Although he worked full-time until 1923, Pringle took evening classes at Glasgow School of Art from 1885. He seldom exhibited and painted comparatively few works, most of which are small in scale. Pringle's characteristic style was to paint with small, square brushstrokes. His subjects were from his home or nearby, such as family, friends and the back court of his tenement building.