Zan Mixter was born in Oakland, California, and graduated from St. Rose Academy High School in San Francisco in 1966; the school was later destroyed in the San Francisco Earthquake of 1989. Zan attended the University of Oregon where she reveled in her first studio art classes, then wandered a bit, eventually finishing at Dominican College in San Rafael in 1971. Zan received her MFA in Graphic Design from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1998 and was mentored by Phil Hamilton.
Much of the art that Zan produces is based on recollection and memory. Her curiosity is propelled primarily by observation; by coming back to a moment in time through memory she feels she can generate an interpretation of events that becomes uniquely hers. Zan enjoys getting lost in the process and is often surprised at where her curiosity takes her, using a variety of mediums from pastels to photography to illustrate her vision.