Kapplinger, professor of Art at North Dakota State University (NDSU) where he has taught since 1992, received an MFA in printmaking from the University of Iowa. In 1998 he founded at NDSU the Printmaking, Education, and Research Studio (PEARS) and continues as its director/master printer. He has received fellowships from the Hungarian Multicultural Center, North Dakota Council on the Arts, Woodstock School of Art in New York, and Vinalhaven Press in Maine.
Kapplinger considers his work collaborative in nature, inspired by authors, reporters, and researchers of environmental and cultural issues interpreted through his own rural-based background. He chooses to work primarily in print medium for its complexity, ease in creating text, and potential for layering colors.