Ufer was born of German immigrant parents and raised in Kentucky. After an apprenticeship as a lithographer, he went to Europe where he was a traveling journeyman. Like many of his fellow artists with ties to Indianapolis's German-American community, he went to Germany to study; he trained in Hamburg and Dresden. When he returned to America, he worked as a printer in Chicago and taught school, and later took classes in fine arts. After a brief time in Chicago, he returned to Munich in 1911 for further study as an artist. Upon his return to the US, he traveled to Taos in 1914. There he became one of the "Taos Ten", and associated with the Taos Society of Artists. His New Mexico paintings are characterized by genre scenes of Native American life and landscapes executed in a high-keyed palette.