Sterling grew up in northeastern North Carolina in the town of Ahoskie. He studied art at UNCC as a Cliff Cameron merit scholar for undergraduate school, receiving his BFA in 1996, cum laude with interdisciplinary honors and the McEniry award for scholarship in the Arts and Humanities. He was also a graduate fellow in painting at the University of Houston where he enjoyed teaching and the thriving Arts scene*. After a break from school turned into an extended break from painting, he began making canvases again in 2018. He maintains a blog about his practice and other artists he finds interesting. During the day, Sterling works in clean energy, and hopes one day to be a full-time practicing artist and teacher. He is also a father of two who lives in Raleigh with his spouse, his favorite travel companion, and when not working, making art or traveling spends his time playing basketball, watching science fiction or working on his community.