Garth Tapper studied at the Elam School of Fine Arts 1945 - 1951 and in his last year at Elam was invited by the Director of Elam (A J Fisher) to lecture in painting to fellow students. In the same year he was awarded the Carnegie Scholarship by the Auckland Society of Arts and this enabled him to continue his studies in Europe in 1952 and 1953.
During this period he made contact with Augustus John and Vivian Pitchforth while studying at the Slade and Chelsea Schools of Art in London. A tour with A J Fisher through Belgium and Holland and further studies were undertaken in France, Spain and Italy.
Tapper returned to New Zealand with his wife in 1953 to commence teaching at Auckland Secondary Schools until 1960. He then rejoined the staff of the Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland University and lectured in painting for 17 years, retiring from Elam as a Senior Lecturer in 1977.
As a full time artist since 1977, Tapper has continued to paint portraits, commissions and hold exhibitions. Among the portraits are Sir David Beattie, Sir Paul Reeves, Sir Robert Jones and one of his favourites, Margaret, daughter of Sir Owen Woodhouse.
He is represented in private collections as well as in the Auckland City Art Gallery, The Bath House Rotorua, Waikato Museum of Art and History and the National Art Gallery (now Te Papa) Wellington.
In 1957 Garth Tapper was represented in the New Zealand Travelling Exhibition to Russia and since 1963 has held 26 solo shows and participated in numerous group shows.