Stephen Parlato was born in 1954 in Levitown, Long Island, New York. He graduated from the Cooper Union School of Art and Architecture in 1976. He was awarded a scholarship to the Maryland Institute's Hoffberger School of Graduate Painting, studying under renowned painter, Grace Hartigan. He is the subject of a documentary film by well known filmmaker Exul Van Helden and has been interviewed by Oprah Winfrey for his unique teaching methods with specially gifted inner city high school students. He also works professionally as a counselor with mentally challenged young adults. Parlato lives in Baltimore, Maryland.