Born and raised in Mexico City, Josť Antonio Aguirre manifested an interest in the arts at an early age when he showed an aptitude for music. His pursuit of serious musical studies brought him on a visit to Chicago in 1976, at which point he decided to stay in the United States, enrolling in the American Conservatory of Music in 1977. In 1978 his creative direction changed and he began to study painting, drawing, and sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Aguirre lived in Chicago for nearly a decade. After moving to Austin, Texas, in 1985, Aguirre met Sister Karen Boccalero, director and founder of Self-Help Graphics in Los Angeles. In 1986 he moved to Los Angeles and, at her invitation, became an artist in residence at Self-Help Graphics, where he produced serigraphs and started an intaglio and linocut printmaking studio.