Donald Lipski was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in the northern suburb of Highland Park. His first welded sculptures as a teen won him The Scholastic Art Award in high school. He received an MFA in ceramics from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1973. Lipski taught at the University of Oklahoma from 1973 to 1977, when he moved to New York. In 1978 he won the first of three National Endowment for the Arts grants, followed by a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1988, an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1993, and the Rome Prize of The American Academy in Rome in 2000. His work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City; the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; and dozens of other museums.