Joe Hartoutunian was born in Chicago and attended Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin. After college he traveled in Europe and Morocco which turned out to be a very formative year for him and his career.
From 1967-8 he attended the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago where he met and married Gabriella Burrage. Together they traveled in Europe and Morocco and then Joe returned to Chicago where he studied art with Paul Wieghardt at the Evanston Art Center.
In 1982 Joe built his current studio in Steuben, ME. He still works and lives in Maine where in 2001 he taught art at the University of Maine at Machias, and coached golf and tennis at the local high school.