Ataa Oko was born in La, a town near Accra, Ghana. He worked as a fisherman, then as an employee in cocoa plantations. Apprentice carpenter since 1936, he made his first figurative coffins around 1945 and open his own workshop in his hometown. Growing old, he makes more rarely coffins, only on occasional command.
Ataa Oko began his graphic work at of eighty-three years old, after meeting in 2002 with the ethnologist Regula Tschumi who was then conducting research on funerary sculptures. She asked him to draw from memory the personalized figurative coffins he built while he was carpenter: one in the shape of a fish for a fisherman, another one representing a tomato for a farmer. Over time, the author freed himself from his memories to leave space to an abundance of brightly colored new topics: fantastic animals, characters and imaginary beings, sometimes monstrous. Ataa Oko worked with Regula Tschumi until his death in December 2012.