After completing primary school, Schöpke began working as a farm laborer. He never fit in with society and was subjected to various forms of harassment. He was prevented from joining the German army because he was diagnosed with bipolar psychosis. In 1956, he was institutionalized in a psychiatric clinic, where he began drawing. He eventually became a client of the House of Artists at the psychiatric hospital of Gugging. The figures in his drawings look as if they had been irradiated by x-rays. They are rickety, fragile and with disproportionately sized heads. Schöpke signed all of his drawings and in most cases also wrote down the name, sex and age of the model.