James Welling was born in Hartford, Connecticut, USA in 1951. He gained a B.F.A. and M.F.A. from the influential art school CalArts (California Institute of Fine Arts), where he studied under artist John Baldessari, alongside contemporaries that included David Salle, Mark Manders and Jack Goldstein. In 1995 Welling moved to Los Angeles to head the photography area of the Art Department of UCLA, where he continues to live and work.