Otto Heino was born in East Hampton, Connecticut. After serving in World War II, he returned to the United States in 1949 and through the GI Bill enrolled in a pottery class taught at the League of New Hampshire Craftsman—his teacher was his future wife, Vivika. Together they shared a studio for over fifty years. They briefly taught at University of Southern California, before taking over the ceramics program at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles from 1955-1962. They briefly returned to the Northeast to operate a private studio, but at the behest of their close friend Beatrice Wood, they returned to the West Coast and opened a studio in Ojai, California. The Heinos remained key figures of the midcentury ceramics community in Southern California.
Otto and Vivika Heino encouraged an environment of collaboration, experimentation, and individuality amongst themselves and their students. In contrast to some of their contemporaries, they firmly believed that technical knowledge of ceramics should be shared and disseminated. The couple freely shared their knowledge of clay bodies, glaze chemistries, and firing techniques. For nearly fifty years, Otto and Vivika shared a studio space, working both independently and collaboratively. Their pots are always signed with both of their names, regardless of who produced them.