Rafael Tufiño was born in Brooklyn, New York. In 1932 he moved to Puerta de Tierra, Puerto Rico to live with his grandmother. From the early age of 12 he worked in the sign painting workshop of Antonio "Tony" Maldonado. In the 1940’s Tufiño went to Mexico and studied engraving at the San Carlos Academy, coming under the influence of the Mexican muralists Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco. Much of his art practice was dedicated to minority communities in New York and Puerto Rico, work for which he received an award from the National Arts Club in New York in 2003. Tufiño died in 2008 in Condado, Pueto Rico. Two days of national mourning were declared in his honour.