Tai-Shan Schierenberg was born in England in 1962, the eldest of three sons to a very young Chinese mother and a German painter. As a child, he spent the first years of his life with his grandparents in Malaysia but was eventually returned to his London-based parents for the beginning of primary school..

Being taken on frequent visits to the London Museums or art galleries made him familiar with painting of all realms and ages, while drawing soon became the child's favourite activity. After extensive travels to the places of Antiquity in Greece and Asia Minor, the family settled in the Black Forest and, in pursuit of a more ecologically centred life, did some subsistence farming, while the boy, by now eleven years old, started his secondary education under the auspices of a Jesuit run grammar school nearby. In his mid-teens, the first cautious steps towards oil painting were undertaken.


At the age of seventeen and with his secondary education completed, he left home, reconnoitred Frankfurt and Amsterdam, drifted over to Paris, where he predominantly spent his time drawing from life at the venerable Académie de la Grande Chaumière. Schierenberg eventually returned to London, where he has remained ever since. He applied to and was accepted by St. Martin's and in due course, Slade School of Art for postgraduate studies, which he finished in 1987.


In 1989 he won joint first prize in the National Portrait Gallery's John Player Portrait Award, and as part of the prize, was commissioned to paint the portrait of playwright John Mortimer for the Gallery's collection. The National Portrait Gallery also holds his portraits of Lord Carrington from 1994, Lord Sainsbury 2002 and most recently Seamus Heaney from 2004. He has also executed the commission for a double portrait of the Royal Couple.