Artist Interview: Manelle Oliphant

Artist Interview: Manelle Oliphant

qft-Manelle Oliphant


Manelle Oliphant loves illustrating historical stories and fairy tales. She graduated from BYU-Idaho with her illustration degree. She lives with her husband in Salt Lake City, Utah. You can see her work at, and


Hello again, loves! It’s another fabulous Friday, which means it’s time for another fabulous interview with our 2016 Summer Issue cover artist, Manelle Oliphant! She’s got a fantastic eye for detail, her pieces are magical, and she’s a downright wizard when it comes to costume illustrations.

These are a few of her favorite things:


Old Timey Artist Faves: Michelangelo, Whistler, Sargent, the Pre-Raphaelites, The impressionists, Vermeer.

Illustrator Faves: Lisbeth Zwerger, Leyendecker, Rockwell, Trina Hyman, PJ Lynch, Justin Gerard, Greg Swearingen, Joseph Zbukvic.

There are more but I probably better stop.

Painting: I couldn’t even pick a favorite artist…qft-Manelle-oliphant-Dreamers

Museum: There are so many good ones in DC. So far seeing the National Gallery and the Smithsonian art museums have been my favorite.

Author: Diana Wynne Jones, Jonathan Stroud, Lloyd Alexander, Jane Austen and more, many more.

Book: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

Show: Monk, Leverage, Gilmore Girls

Movie: It’s a Wonderful Life. Tangled. The Greatest Game Ever Played. Miss Potter. Almost every bonnet drama the BBC ever made.

Fairy tale: I love The Three Spinners and Beauty and the Beast.

Superpower: Flying maybe?

Okay, time to get serious. What does your art mean to you?

I suppose it depends on what I am painting. But being an artist is part of who I am. I would be someone else if I didn’t draw and paint.

Great answer. What medium/media do you prefer to work with?


qft-ManelleOliphant-GhostConnectionWho is the one artist you’d love to be compared to? Why?

Once an agent compared my work to Trina Hyman and I was thrilled with that. Her work is beautiful and has a great magical quality to it.

Let’s talk hobbies. What else do you enjoy spending your time on?

I like cooking, reading, and organizing things.

Describe that moment when you knew you were an artist—when you knew that this is what you’re meant to be doing with your life.

I think that happened when I was born. I don’t remember ever questioning if I would be an artist or not. I question what kind of artist I want to be all the time.

And what do you do to get inspired?

Look at great art, go for a walk or swim, let my brain rest.

Smart. What keeps you motivated?

Living. There are always so many stories I want tqft-Manelle Oliphant--Livingo tell and life gives me new ideas all the time.

If you like to jam out while you work, what kind of music puts you in the mood? 

If I listen to music it’s usually pretty mellow like Celtic Woman or The Weepies. Mostly I listen to audiobooks though.

Tell us a bit about what are you working on now.

I am working on a board book called In the Snow, and getting ready for Salt Lake Comic Con.

Do you work on multiple projects at once or focus on one at a time?

Yes, both. I have a hard time jumping around with projects. I like to focus on one and get it done before I move on, but if the project is large like a picture book I’ll work on other things.

If time and money weren’t an issue, describe your dream project.

I want to make illustrateqft-ManelleOliphant-Witch's Letterd novels. I’m working on one and have ideas for others, but they constantly get pushed to the back burner. I’m trying to make them more of a priority.

What do you do when you get stuck?

Take a break.

What keeps you going?

Whatever crazy need I have to make this stuff keeps me going.

How do you handle any setbacks or failures?

I usually cry. Then I sleep, then I keep going.

How did they help you grow? 

I think so many of the setbacks I have set me on new and better courses. A few years ago I had surgery and while I was recuperating I realized doing only children’s books wasn’t being as fulfilling as I thought. I started doing more fantasy art and created Tales Fantastic after that.

What do you think is the hardest thing about painting?

Making the first mark is the hardest for me.

What about the easiest?

qft-Manelle Oliphant-SetbacksI don’t know. Maybe it’s not easy at all.

Do you have any painting or drawing books you’d recommend to those just starting out?

Yes, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards, and Drawing with Your Artist’s Brain by Carl Purcell. I teach art classes out of my home and use these books to teach people how to draw.

Best piece of advice for artists?

Practice a lot.

Best piece of advice for life?

Practice a lot.

qft-Manelle with FairyHa! Perfect! Thank you so much for your interview, Manelle! We can’t wait to see what’s in store for you down the line, and we look forward to watching your success grow!

Want more Manelle? Here’s where you can find her:

 Website | Tales Fantastic | Patreon | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | YouTube | Pinterest | Instagram

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