Born in 1960 in Cologne, Ottersbach studied he studied art and philosophy at the University of Cologne between 1979 and 1983. Over the years, Ottersbach has held a number of prominent visiting professor positions, including with the Centro de Arte e Communicaçao Visual, Lisboa, Portugal from 1992 to 1993, and in 2003 with the California State University in Los Angeles. Recently appointed professor of painting and graphics at the world renowned Academy of Visual Arts in Leipzig, Ottersbach took his place as the successor of German painter, Neo Rausch. 

Since the mid 1980s, Ottersbach's works have been included over one hundred international group and solo exhibitions and are held in some of the most important international collections today including the permanent collections of the Blibliothèque Nationale, Paris, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Getty Center, Los Angeles, and National Gallery, Canberra Australia amongst others.