Tanya Sternberg in her studio, working on abstract artworks laid out on the floor

Tanya Sternberg: artist studio visit

Visit the studio of mixed media artist Tanya Sternberg and learn more about her process, inspirations and latest abstract artworks incorporating brightly coloured perspex, obselete x-rays and pins.

View Tanya's art for sale here>



Tanya Sternberg was born in East London in 1977. She lives and works in Cape Town as an artist and graphic designer. She graduated from the Ogilvy and Mather School of Advertising and started her own graphic design company, Ink Design in 2005.

She has worked across numerous magazine publications including Sports Illustrated, InStyle and Time Inc Australia. She has created a separate commercial range of artworks nationally through Weylandts Home Stores.

Tanya draws inspiration from connected moments between people, her family and the inner pursuit of space in our natural and urban landscapes. 



StateoftheART was thrilled to chat to Tanya about her artistic process and find out more about her latest body of abstract works titled 'CHASING SPACE'.
These large framed works explore our pursuit of inner space and are created using ink washes amidst architectural diagrams overlayed with xrays, pins and neon material.


Tell us about your background and how your creative journey as an artist started?

I studied advertising and graphic design working across various magazines and design studios. I have always painted and only after my third child did I decide to pursue this full time. I still work off my computer which influences my work in that there are often a lot of structured graphic shapes and repetition of marks.

Your current body of work explores the theme of expansiveness and pursuit of space using abstracted floating shapes and lines. What drew you to this concept and how did this idea develop over time?

This concept started many years ago. The idea of us humans on this busy quest trying to find the things that matter to us and give us that sense of expansiveness.  Each person needing and wanting something different and unique.

On a physical level, we live in tightly packed cities and there is often the yearning for wide open landscapes. This is represented in the ink washes and architectural marks in the artworks.  

From there I moved onto a more personal expression of finding expansiveness within. Using X-rays and film cut into various overlapping planes that float, intersect and overlap in joyous movement. Abstract angular forms indicative of the various planes, journeys and alternate dimensions we may explore in our pursuit of that space and expansiveness.

The idea of cutting materials up to create something new is a technique used throughout my artworks. I love the idea that we are often trying to make things whole and perfect, when in fact the beauty lies in the dance between all these fragments.


You have said that your process when creating these works is both spontaneous and free, and very slow and complex at the same time, could you elaborate on this? What are the steps involved and is there one you enjoy more?

The first step is working with soft washes of ink which is very loose and free. Layered over this are architectural forms using a fineliner and stencil. This is complex, repetitive and very therapeutic marks to create.  Over and above this is the layering of x-rays, film and paper using pins to attach to the artwork. Each of these different materials seem to offer a new tempo and flow when working with them.

Describe an average day in your studio.

I usually get into my studio around 9:30. Coffee is a must. An hour or two on my computer then followed by whatever piece I am working on. I work till about 2 - thereafter family duties call! Some days I may have a client coming to view which is always great as I love meeting people and showing them around the studio.

What inspired the use of these X-rays and these unusual materials in your work?

I had old x-rays floating around at home which I always thought were fascinating. They are windows into your body and tell a story in themselves. The idea of trying to find expansiveness in a physical world seem to tie in perfectly with the material. They are also no longer in productions which makes them rare and timeless. I juxtaposed the x-rays with solid neon paper and overlaying film which all seemed to work cohesively together.


How do you find balance in your life between your art career and family?

To be honest I rarely do find an exact balance. It’s like a tug of war. There are periods where less work is done and then times where I am able to carve out more time and find my creative sweet spot.

Can you describe the perfect location where you would like to see your work displayed?

The location to me doesn’t matter, anywhere where the viewer is moved by the piece in some way is wherein the reward lies.   


For a collector purchasing your work, is there anything to be aware of - are they delicate in transit? Could they change over time?

All works need to be crated as the use of pins, framed behind glass needs to be moved carefully. That being said I have sent overseas with 100% success.

What are you  currently working on in 2023?

I am busy exploring different materials and possibly more fiber art.  I am always excited by anything neon so am sure that will find its way into my art. I don’t have a specific and structured plan with these new materials but I suppose that provides the platform for some creating and surprising moments to occur.


Abstract mixed media artwork by Tanya Sternberg of orange and brown shards on a grey background'The Dirt Road' by Tanya Sternberg. Mixed Media of ink on Fabriano paper, pins, x-ray film, on white board, 120 x 91cm framed.


View Tanya Sternberg's artist portfolio at StateoftheART or visit her website for more.