CMU School of Drama

Friday, July 07, 2017

The Artist Behind Some of the World's Most Famous Images Isn't A Photographer, It's Top Backdrop Painter Sarah Oliphant

Fstoppers: From Vanity Fair covers to designer fashion shows and theater stages, artist Sarah Oliphant has painted her way into the fabric of fashion by creating beautiful canvases worthy of framing on a scale large enough to become the industry's leading backdrop painter. Oliphant Studio has been creating scenic backdrops for photographers, film producers, fashion designers, architects, and interior designers since 1978.


blue Williger said...

As a fan of fashion photography and fashion in general, this article immediately took my interest. Having been an avid reader and fan of magazines and other publications such as Vanity Fair and Vogue, I have always been intrigued in the creative and production side of photo shoots.
Something I have often looked over is the backdrops used in photo shoots. Because magazines like Vogue and Vanity Fair typically focus on the subject in the foreground--such as the clothing, model, or celebrity, the background will typically go unnoticed by the average reader. Sarah Oliphant, of Oliphant Studios, is a leading backdrop painter and designer. She is able to take something as simple as a grey backdrop and turn it into a piece of art. Her use of paints in varying colors and tone help to create depth and texture on a flat surface. Once put in a magazine the image becomes two dimensional; however, Oliphant is able to create images and art that convey a three dimensional world. In addition to creating backdrops for magazines and other publications, Sarah Oliphant has worked on fashion shows, such as her work on a Marc Jacobs fashion show in 2015.
Her attention to detail is what has stood out most to me. It seems that each and every brush stroke has a purpose.

Mirah Kozodoy said...

I found this article very interesting in its discussion of the use of backdrop in photography. I think most people, myself included, don’t consider the importance of scenery in photography. As this article expresses, however, the backdrop can be the most important part of the picture, in that if it was not there, the picture would be boring. The people in the foreground of the picture need a strong background, whether it be for contrast or support, that allows the viewer to rethink meaning. I also appreciated reading about how exciting and varied the job of backdrop painter is. I was expecting the article to talk about how backdrop painting goes unnoticed but I was not expecting to be intrigued by the idea of a job as a backdrop painter. The article describes very well the exciting nature of the job: the constant flow of work, working with famous and interesting people, and just generally being able to paint and create art that is then spread around the world.