Nikolai Ossipov was born in a Siberian territory of Russia and migrated with his family to Odessa, Ukraine at six years of age, where he spent over three decades living and working. From his early youth through his formal education, Ossipov worked with wood at every opportunity. While attending High School, he also attended the Odessa Art School and went on to study at the Odessa Federal University, graduating with a professional degree in Art and Graphics in 1976. He worked as an illustrator for a newspaper and book publishing company after graduating, experience that is evident in his work.
Intitially, Ossipov worked with wood in his spare time creating functional objects for friends and family such as carved mirrors, boxes, and sculptures. In 1978, Ossipov was accepted to the Odessa Art Union, where he began carrying out commissions in woodcarving professionally.