Trent Manning

Trent Manning Studio: An Interview with Trent Manning


There is nothing ordinary about artist Trent Manning's works. Innovative and contemporary yet his works still manage to connote an old-world charm to them. I cannot help but think of Gepetto, the craftsman and toymaker from the popular novel (and film) Pinocchio, when I see his creations. Trent Manning's 'toys' invoke a sense of nostalgia - a sense of familiar comfort - while at the same time convey unconventional and gloriously grim characteristics. To describe Trent Manning's works as unique would be an understatement of sorts. He is a master craftsman who successfully blends the old with the new in a way I have never seen before. I had the opportunity to learn more about this remarkable artist, his life, and his artistic process.

What inspires you?

My collection of things. Most of my sculptures are inspired by an object that fuels the creative process.

This series is very much a reflection of my personality: a somewhat disillusioned cynic, with an odd sense of humor, who still clings tightly to his inner child.

How and when did you first get started creating your artwork?

In 2006 there was a gallery having a a recycled themed exhibit. I went to a garage sale, bought a mystery box of miscellaneous items for $2.00, went back to my studio and created my first mixed media sculpture.

What is the hardest part about creating your artwork?

Finding time to experiment.

Are you working on anything new at the moment?

I just finished a piece yesterday of a guy riding a toy horse. I started 4 new pieces today.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I have a lot of people comment when they meet me that they are surprised I appear quite normal. It’s my off beat and deadpan sense of humor that many people find odd.

Do you admire any artists?

Usually painters. I’ve always struggled with my paintings so I’m drawn to things that I find challenging.

Can you tell me a bit more about these creations - the process you took to make them, what inspired you to create them?

Plateau was inspired by the brick pattern metal that I found. The brick pattern had a stair step effect, so I began to build a story around this guy who has struggled to get to the top and his realization once he was there that there was nowhere else to go.

This one was inspired by my daughter (Harlow) and her fear of ants. I found the upholstery tacks and they reminded me of ants, which led to sugar ants, which led to the lollipop, which led to the idea of the stand off between the little girl with her lollipop and the ants.

This one was also inspired by my daughter, it was the first sculpture of a little girl that I ever made.

Favourite or most inspirational place where you live?

I still live in the town I where I was born.

Best or most interesting complement you have ever received as an artist?

A lot of people tell me when they look at my work they feel like a kid again. I like that because I’m pretty much a big kid myself.

What does being an artist mean to you?

My work has always been strongly narrative driven. To me it’s a form of visual story telling, without it the work just seems incomplete.

Hardest lesson you have ever had to learn as an artist?

The realization that when you become a full time artist it’s no longer a hobby, its a job.

For more info on Trent Manning

Trent Manning Studio's website
Trent Manning Studio on Facebook