Michael Upton was born in Birmingham in 1948. He studied at Birmingham College of Art and later at the Royal Academy schools. He won the Leverhulme scholarship (RA Schools) Casandra Foundation Award (William Copley)New York, the South West Arts Major Award and Singer and Freidlander Prize (Sunday Times). He taught from 1969 to 1990 and was the Lecturer in charge of Graduate Studies at the Royal Academy Schools in London from 1981, this is where he taught Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst.
Michael Upton was said to be charming, good looking, intelligent but enigmatic, for many of his friends and acquaintances he epitomised sixties 'cool'. Numbered among them were several Poets and Writers, as well as those icons of the swinging sixties in London, Patrick Proktor and David Hockney and Pauline Smith wife of the fashion designer Paul Smith.