Rolf Tschierschky was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany on 27 July 1923 as the second of four children. His father, Alfred Tschierschky (1877−1938) was a painter and sculptor, whilst his mother Adele Tschierschky née Biesenbach (1895−1988) was extremely interested in culture and known for her subtlety and sensitiveness.
In 1937, the family moved to Berlin where the father, Alfred, died at age 61. For the 15-year-old Rolf Tschierschky, this meant he then had to step into his father’s shoes and take over responsibility for the whole family, meaning for his mother, Adele, and his siblings Rosemarie, Günter and Alfred (known as Fredi).
During World War II, Rolf Tschierschky served in the navy as a radio operator. He was last stationed in Ahlbeck on the Baltic Sea, and in 1945, was taken as a war captive by the English. It was in the time of his captivity that he took his first steps as a set designer. The “Bunte Gruppe Tating” (Vivid Group Tating), as this troupe of travelling players called themselves, performed theatre pieces in a mixture of German and English as entertainment for allied troops. After Rolf Tschierschky joined them, his role was that of set and scenery painter.
After his release in 1947, Rolf Tschierschky wandered by foot to Frankfurt where he hoped to find his mother, brother Günter and sister Rosemarie again. His brother, Fredi, had fallen during the Caucasus campaign.
In Frankfurt, the family settled in as best they could into their little house in the Dreikönigsstraße. Rolf Tschierschky took evening classes in painting and art history from 1948−1952 at the Städelschule, a public institution of higher learning for painting and art history. Arno König and Theo Garve were among his teachers here.
During his studies, Tschierschky worked once again in an advertising department as a graphic designer, this time at Harmann & Braun. The company specialized in measurement and control technology and placed high value on having its products presented clearly and in ways that lay people could understand. Rolf Tschierschky’s task was to depict the company’s products in its advertising brochures in a manner that was both realistic and aesthetically appealing.
From 1953–1956 he participated in the graphic classes of Beckmann student, Hans Leistikow at the Staatliche Werkakademie (public academy of applied arts) in Kassel. Further, he took part in set design courses given by the renowned in Europe and friend of Bertolt Brecht, Teo Otto. In Kassel, Tschierschky won first prize in a set design competition sponsored by the state-supported theatre in Kassel. Jointly with the Kassel-based artist Arnold Bode, he co-organized the first documenta, which meanwhile is one of the most important exhibits of contemporary art in the world. It was also here in Kassel that he first met Gertrud Koch, the woman who would later become his wife. After their marriage in 1957, a few turbulent years followed that included relocations to Braunschweig, Bonn and Offenburg. For Rolf Tschierschky, it was becoming increasingly difficult to care for his growing family solely through means of his work as a set designer.
From 1960 to 1965, Rolf Tschierschky was employed in Offenburg at the company Borsi KG, which specialized in outdoor advertising. The young graphic designer’s advertising work became more and more characterized by air brush techniques and photorealism.
In 1965, the family moved to Mengeringhausen in Waldeck-Frankenberg, Hesse, where his wife Gertrud was originally from. He quickly found a job as a technical draughtsman in the neighbouring town of Arolsen at the road construction office. This was not an activity he was especially fond of, however he performed it for 18 years. In 1983 when he was 61, he was allowed to go into retirement early due to health reasons.
In 1988, he was commissioned to complete a 3.65 metre tall glass painting for Arolsen’s sister city of Heusden-Zolder in Belgium. This was one of the few opportunities he ever had to work without restriction as an artist – and receive acknowledgement for his art.