The Meaning of Life in 10 Questions… Sarah Oliphant
There are some of truly creative people in this industry. Let’s face it, you’ve got to be constantly concepting, developing, and executing or you get left in the dust. I’m fortunate to work with some really dynamic and inspiring people, ranging from art directors, to producers, to creative directors, photo editors, art buyers, and print producers. Instead of questions about email blasts, printed promos, and portfolio reviews, I think that it’s time that I put some of them on the spot to show us their meaning of Life. “The meaning of Life” may be a little far flung to answer in only ten questions, but hopefully these interviews will serve to distill some of the inspired and intellectual energy of the creatives that we work with.
Sarah Oliphant is an incredibly talented artist who’s been collaborating with photographers, designers, and stylists for over thirty years. Since 1978, Oliphant Studio has created countless custom backgrounds ranging from simple yet elegant canvases and muslins to elaborate and large scale scenery pieces. We first met Sarah this summer after searching New York City for some painted backgrounds. After our initial rental, we decided to invest in an Oliphant backdrop and have since added to our collection. During one of my visits to Oliphant, Sarah was kind enough to let me take a few photos and answer a few questions. I’ve included a few of my favorites in this post, along with the meaning of life. I’ll let Sarah tell the rest.
1. Name one actor/actress in one movie to represent you as a teenager?
Doris Day. I know it’s pitiful. I still love her.
2. What is your preferred vehicle or mode of transportation?
Believe it or not I have a Toyota mini van. It’s AWESOME. I took out the middle seats so I can have room for my paint buckets and dogs. It is like driving in my living room.
3. What is your favorite beverage for creative inspiration?
It used to be diet coke mixed with Gatorade until I discovered I was allergic to aspartame, which gave me insane vertigo. Now the studio is strewn with half empty iced coffee cups.
4. Name your favorite band/singer and album?
I don’t know the name of the album or singer. You would have to ask my daughter, Violet that. But I do know that the song is called Chinese Babies.
5. How did you get where you are today?
My brilliant teacher, Terry Bennet, who once said, “ Productivity leads to productivity. You just have to keep doing it”
6. Where do you source your inspiration?
I have very bad long-term memory. Every time I start painting a new job, even if I have painted it a thousand times, it’s always brand new. I feel inspired just by the energy I need to paint it.
7. What is your philosophy on the work that you do?
I get happy every single time I walk through the door of my studio. What the painting is for really doesn’t matter to me. It’s the act of doing it that I love.
8. Describe a defining moment in your career that has led you to where you are today?
My first job was an airbrush sky for Michel Tcherevkoff. I propped up a piece of plywood in my Ave. A railroad flat and used an airbrush for the first time. I had no idea what I was doing but I knew this was a huge opportunity and that I could not fuck it up and I didn’t.
9. Name a project or artist you would like to work with in the future and why?
Every job is exciting. I am by nature a collaborator and it takes a lot for me not to like someone. I don’t really have an idea of why one project would be better than another. I enjoy painting in large spaces. An airport would be cool.
10. If the world is ending in 2012, how will you change your life plan?
When the world ends you can find me in my studio on 20 West 20th St. 6th Floor. I’ll be painting.