Tanya was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She started drawing and sculpting from a very young age. By the time she was 15, Tanya was studying anatomy, which included sketching cadavers at the USC medical center. She learned the lost wax casting process by making jewelry in her teens - always conceptually figurative. She also studied many forms of dance: modern, jazz, and ballet and was performing in a ballet company before going to college.