Born in Tipton, Ohio, Bertha Boynton Lum received a diverse artistic education. In 1895, she studied design at the Art Institute of Chicago. She continued her education studying stained glass and illustration before returning to the Art Institute in 1901 to pursue figure drawing. During this time, she found strong influence in the Japanese aesthetic in the work of Arthur Wesley Dow. When her honeymoon took her to Japan in 1903, Lum hoped to learn woodblock printing, but returned to the U.S. with only the tools. Upon her return to Japan in 1907, Lum studied woodblock printmaking with block cutter Igami Bonkutsu and printer Nishimura Kamakichi. After returning to the U.S., Lum carved and printed woodblock prints herself. In 1908, she was named a master craftsman by the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston. However, after returning to Japan in 1911, Lum began to divide the labor among hired block cutters and printers who worked with her in Tokyo. By 1917, Lum made California her permanent home and traveled to Japan, China, and Italy numerous times to live, study, and work. Today, she is associated with the popularization the woodblock printmaking outside of Asia.