a peek into the past…

Tasha Sterling


…a leap into the future

Hello all and welcome to my work! During my time at Emily Carr, it’s been a wild ride – full of online classes, pandemics, fires and all sorts of other fun shenanigans. Looking back I see some incredible self discovery, learning and creation that I’ve done along the way and I’m excited to share it here and invite you to look at where I started and just how far I’ve come.

The Beginning

All good stories have to start somewhere and mine began with a three year old picking up a lipstick tube and scribbling on the walls (how’s that for a creative medium?) Never could I have imagined I would wind up in Emily Carr, studying illustration with like-minded peers getting to create what I loved and getting to express what I was passionate about.


During foundation I took basic courses that allowed me to explore what I wanted to study further and pursue during my time at ECUAD. I wound up creating animations, games and so much more that I created with pride. It was a time of creation and flourishing in a new environment.

During this time, I also applied to clubs and activities to connect to more people and engage in fun creative things on campus – one such thing was Anijam, the animation jam hosted by the animation club. It was here I poured almost 30 hours into 8 seconds of animation. Really good animation.



As foundation year gave its dramatic finale with the fire and COVID-19, I made my way into the illustration year for year two. This was a difficult time, as I got to make the things I loved, but from a point of isolation and slowly feeling like I was being cut off from the world.

There was so much time to create art but it all felt empty without getting to form connections with my peers. Nevertheless, I persisted; finding solace in art and pouring my entire being into it. As I made the adjustment to online classes, I took more enjoyment in making work related to course work and learning about the history of art and taking a more thoughtful approach to creation.


By year three, I had a bit more of an idea what I was here to do and how to do it (ever so slightly). But it was my Praxis class that really helped me explore that more and to hone in what I wanted to focus on. I had always had a passion for bringing my work to life and found that animation allowed me to do just that. Following themes of culture and identity, something I always have and most likely will continue to struggle with, I created a child-like whimsical adventure of an individual finding themself in “Cómo Encontrar Alegría”.

Identity and this concept of “belonging” has always been extremely valuable to me. When I first began this course and started thinking about concepts that I could create and write about, of course culture, identity and that ever elusive sense of fitting in somewhere struck me as my biggest inspirations. 

At the beginning of the semester I was definitely blinded by too much research and getting distracted by the nitty gritty and trying to convey all this information in an extremely in your face manner that, had I kept taking that path, would have led to me writing a 900 page paper. Spared from my own stupidity, my peers in this class, especially those with the focus on internet spaces and gaming, helped me to realize that there is a way to combine both what you love to engage in, what you love to do and what you really want to speak about. 

It was with this inspiration and my prior research that led me to animation. While not being an animation major, I absolutely adore making my art come to life, more often than not in the form of animation or producing games, and even though both are extremely time consuming and taxing, they are extremely rewarding. I think that’s what happened with this project as well. 

Despite a little bit of a late bloomer because of medical issues and just a general being stuck in my own head with all my other very research and paper heavy classes, this project blossomed forth from a place of love and determination. I think that in terms of juggling this course to my others, I began to treat them all similarly and in doing so, failed to realize the freedom that I really had with this course and this project until much later than I wish I had. It can be said with confident ease that over 80+ hours went into this animation and all the thought behind it and that each second was worth it. Compared to my initial proposal, I’ve come a very long way, no longer just drowning in researching and hoping research will strike me from the words of others, but instead creating from the words in my heart. 

PRAX Project

It is easy to speak of the struggles encountered by first wave immigrants and to tell the story of these hardships that face the determined individuals trying to start a new life in a foreign land. While still being a tale of tribulation and an inspiration for so many of what is possible and can be achieved to people who wish for a better place, it is not the tale I wanted to focus on for my project. 

The main turning point for me was absolutely when I realized that this project was not meant to draw from the research but to have the research supplement what I hope to say. And what I wanted to say from the beginning, especially through a lens of cultural disconnect, is that through common ground, no matter how small, there’s always somewhere to belong to if you just look hard enough.

Cómo Encontrar Alegría


Senior Year

Leaping into my last and final year, I’m ashamed to say I was looking forward to it most, only because I was ready to be done with school. Sick of online schooling and ready to leave, it was exhilarating to be back on campus and learning in a real classroom again. I had taken a plethora of summer courses and set myself up to be done ahead of schedule and so I relaxed, taking classes I never could have imagined and actually thriving in school for the first time in my academic career. I was burnt out, tired and ready to be done but giving it my all for the final stretch.

One class I took, The Illustrated Narrative, ILUS 306 was especially rewarding as it was the first illustration class I took in person. I learnt a ton and created even more, gaining valuable skills in the process. It was also during this time, as I took my final illustration classes, that I realized I didn’t want to go into the industry. Illustration or otherwise, it wasn’t the right fit for me, which was a difficult realization to grasp.

I tried to continue with my previous praxis project, turning it into a poster and conversation about neurodiversity as well, and was pleased with the result but still I felt something was lacking… or missing.



After ILUS 400, I decided not to continue with the illustration path and instead switch over to the VAST courses to get a different take and to expose myself to a different set of disciplines. Beginning from my digital design and illustration roots, I initially wanted to create wine labels with more of an emphasis on design but after feedback and a bit more introspection, went with continuing my studies into culture and identity, specifically with myself.

Initially I wanted to create a self portrait in which I would examine my relationship to my Colombian heritage and who I am in contrast to that. It was projected to be a large project spanning multiple works in a variety of mediums, however as I continued to create it, it didn’t sit right with me nor my classmates. So I turned my thoughts to the idea of a passport – the very item that is policed and governs identities of those that get it, but also allow them to travel to different regions, cultures and experiences. It was the perfect vessel for once more examining my identity but in relation to my cultural background.

The passport was also a wonderful option because of my personal connection to the concept as well. Despite being half Colombian, half American, my mother was a second generation immigrant, born an American citizen and always sat comfortable knowing that she was half and half, the best of both worlds. I was not so fortunate, growing up in Australia and living without that exposure to family or culture that she had in her childhood, left me lost and confused as to who I was or meant to be. My mother can choose to get a Colombian passport at any time, as the concept of the passport and nationality is a heavily contested notion in Colombia, given by blood to those connected to the country. Since she did not, however, I am left alienated and without the choice, forced into a sense of senselessness.

I hoped to convey these feelings, lost, despaired but moving forward and forging my own identity, my own passport and showing to the world who I am and what I look like on the inside.

For this project, I engaged in my VAST practices, taking on printing, book-making, painting and other tactile mediums I had neglected to engage with in my previous years. This project allowed me to explore myself and other practices that helped heal the pain of the past and allowed me to move on from constantly grappling with the idea of identity as an all prevalent thing.

The Ending

…or is it merely the beginning, once more? My time at Emily Carr has come to a close but I leave thankful and grateful for the experiences I have gained by attending. It was a self discovery of love, confusion and often times distress, but I have grown as an artist, a creator and an individual. As I leave Emily Carr, I am excited to be venturing into an unknown world while still having a comforting and familiar arsenal of creativity at my disposal as I go forward and try to discover what the next step is. For now, I am excited to be starting a new job as a Customer Support Associate with Starlink via SpaceX in Washington. While I am sad to put Emily Carr behind me and to say goodbye to the friends I’ve made along the way, I won’t be forgetting any of them anytime soon.

And to those that wish to contact me or stay in touch, please do! You can reach me at vitriolicbloom@gmail.com for any urgent or professional matters and sweethetalia@gmail.com for any personal subjects.

Tasha Sterling

Natasha Tatiana Sterling, despite her very Russian name, is from the United States with Colombian heritage and grew up in Australia. With her multi-cultural background, Tasha has a passion for culture, identity and a general exploration of the unknown or fantastical. She adores drawing, creating and in general striving to make things that both myself and others can enjoy.

In her downtime, Tasha likes to read, write, try out cooking new recipes and exploring. A walk through an unfamiliar place in the city is always the most exciting for her, though dancing through the night and socially dancing to a swing tempo is a close second. Despite all these fun activities, nothing is more comforting than going home, visiting her mother, father, dogs and enjoying a nice cup of tea with them all.

Profile image of Tasha Sterling