Sjafri was born in Padang, West Sumatera Indonesia in 1938. Being very fond of painting since he was a little boy, Sjafri’s talent was evident even when he was a student at the Teachers College. He entered into a number of painting competitions while in the College and won first price each and every time he participated.
Sjafri continued his studies at the Institute of Fine Arts in Yogyakarta Indonesia and then proceeded to learn from the late famous painter S. Sudjojono to hone his understanding and skills in fine art.
His contemporary approach and technique to a typical cultural composition was considered quite revolutionary for his generation of artists, one that has endeared with collectors.