Gisela Achterberg was born in 1941 in Bautzen (Saxony). After an apprenticeship as a tailor, she became intensely involved in painting and graphic arts and completed a correspondence course in art and cultural studies at the Humboldt University in East Berlin. In 1962 she made Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg her main residence. She taught foundation art studies at the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin. Since 1978 Achterberg has lived in Berlin-Wilhelmshagen.