Yanka Erimtan, also known as Yanki, was born in Istanbul. At a young age, she moved to Lausanne where she studied at the Ecole Nouvelle. There she received her baccalaureat and began to paint. Her training started with academic studies of figure and still life. In 1985, she moved to New York, where she continued her studies at the Parsons School of Design, receiving her B.F.A. in painting. She lives and works in New York City and Vermont.