Ignaz Epper, born in St. Gallen in 1892, grew up in a poor and dysfunctional family with a strict Catholic education. After training as an embroidery draftsman, he was hired as a designer by the Selig company in St. Gallen and sent to Berlin. There he decided against the will of his family to pursue a career as an artist. He went to Weimar and Munich and received a federal art scholarship for his drawings in 1913. He created his first woodcuts and lithographs in this period, in which his craft talent and his characteristic, strongly expressionist drawing style start to be visible. From 1914 to 1918 he was recruited into the border service. During this time, Epper created numerous woodcuts and drawings in which he reflects upon the fears and the harsh conditions of war.
After border service, he married the artist Mischa van Ufford in September 1919 and often stayed in Arosa and Ascona. Numerous trips, including to North Africa and the Pyrenean village Collioure, followed. Ignaz Epper regularly took part in the group exhibitions of the GSMBA and became a member of the Walze graphic association and later of the graphic cabinet. In 1932 he finally moved to Ascona, where he founded the puppet theater of the Asconese artists in 1937.
Epper is considered a main representative of Swiss Expressionism, mainly due to his graphic work of the 1910s and 1920s. His woodcuts and chalk drawings are characterized by a simplified and distorted visual language. These early works have their own distinctive language, which moves between Expressionism and Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity), and represent an independent and unmistakable contribution to Swiss art.