William Acheff was born January 28, 1947, in Anchorage, Alaska, of Georgian, Russian, Scottish, Dutch and Athabascan/Inuit ancestry.
At age 5, his family moved to Northern California. In high school, his interest in art flourished, seemingly majoring in the abundant drawing and painting classes that were offered. Not wanting to become an art teacher, Acheff avoided further academic art studies beyond high school.
Acheff’s art career began with a chance meeting with Italian artist Roberto Lupetti in 1969. From the first drawing class, Lupetti immediately noticed his artistic potential. A few months later he offered to train Acheff for the sole purpose of becoming a professional artist. Acheff’s artistic potential and restless energy found a direction.
In 1973, energized and searching for inspiration, Acheff discovered the small and inspiring town of Taos and within several months painted his first Native American artifact-related painting that would define his career. Forty-eight years later he is still in Taos — ever restless, while discovering and exploring new visions.
His first big exposure came from the result of an invitation from Cowboy Artists of America artist Gordon Snidow to show in the Western Heritage Sale and Auction in Houston in 1979. By 1981 Acheff’s career had taken off.
In 1989 and 2004, Acheff received the Prix de West Purchase Award. He was also honored twice at the Autry’s Masters of the American West with the John J. Geraghty Award in recognition of his advancement of contemporary art. His work was included in Covering the West, a traveling exhibition in conjunction with Southwest Art magazine’s 25th anniversary edition. He has been featured in numerous Western art magazines since 1981.
Acheff’s style was originally influenced by the Dutch still-life painters from the 17th century then also by the Harnett trompe l’oeil American 19th century movement. He has professed to be semi-retired as of 2017, but that never works for an artist.