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Portrait of an Artist Interview with Jo Sullivan by Jennifer Bracewell

We are delighted to publish our eighth Portrait of an Artist interview to this very special column, edited by Jennifer Bracewell. This week Jennifer has interviewed Jo Sullivan an emerging and talented mobile photographer, take it away Jen (foreword by Joanne Carter).

(We also have a dedicated Facebook group set up for this Column too – please join us here. Jennifer regularly adds and contributes to this. In addition we have set up a Flickr Group dedicated to this column. We would like you to send all your portraiture here and we will select images for curation and showcases as well as commentary – this is the Flickr Group link).

“Jo Sullivan’s fascination with photography began at an early age, with her first pinhole camera and later her love of Polaroids. In her portraiture, Jo is adept at bringing out emotion and at revealing hidden secrets.  Be sure to pay a visit to her gallery and enjoy her portrait studies and her surrealistic images.

Thank you, Jo, for taking the time to talk with me!”

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What are your earliest memories of photography and/or art?

My earliest memories of art are those of my father creating murals, sculpting in lead and taking my brother and me to museums. I took an early interest in photography, making my first pinhole camera at the age of 9. I loved the illusions I could create through a camera lens and used my family’s Polaroid as often as I could. I remember impatiently waving those little photos in the air, waiting for the image to emerge.

 ‘In the evening’ ©Jo Sullivan


What have you sacrificed for your art?

I cannot think of any sacrifices I’ve made, it’s all been a joy.

What is it about portraiture that appeals to you?

Faces. I just love human faces. So much can be expressed, unbidden, in a good photograph. The eyes, the turn of the mouth, the lines, pockmarks, freckles…all those details that make one visually unique.

 ‘A good read’ – ©Jo Sullivan


Why do you think mobile photography and portraiture work so well together?

The ability to manipulate a photographic portrait is astounding in mobile photography. I’ve taken photos of my children and manipulated them to express what I know is behind those eyes, ruminating in that mind in a rather surrealistic way. So much of this could not be done without the applications available in mobile photography.

Tell me about awards and recognition you’ve received.

I’ve only worked in mobile photography along with digital applications since the late summer of 2014 and had no idea there was such a strong movement to bring this art form to the fore. Around the Fall/Winter of 2014 I discovered Joanne Carter and The App Whisperer. I was blown away by the art she was highlighting and decided, rather naively, to start submitting my pieces. Joanne has featured me several times, in Mobile Showcases, as a Featured Artists and on Instagram. I’ve submitted in a few international competitions since then simply for the experience. The attention my work received came as a huge surprise. It still does.

 ‘Rumination’ – ©Jo Sullivan


Which of your own images are you most proud of and why?

The ones of my children are the pieces in which I take the most pride. They’re the most personal and the ones to which I feel closest. I’m also proud of my more surrealistic pieces as that’s pretty much how my mind works anyway…

What have been the high points and low points of your career so far?

As my career is in it’s infancy, the highs and lows are pretty close together. Obviously, Joanne’s attention, support and promotion are the absolute pinnacle of the high points. As for lows…I’m feeling them on and off now, where I didn’t before “going public”. Before, I didn’t care what anyone, except my family, thought of my work. Now that I’ve baby-stepped into the public world of so many incredible artists the self-doubt has crept in. Sometimes (read “often) I look at a piece by a fellow artist and I just want to step back into the shadows of my private world, believing I can never aspire to such beauty. It’s a hard conversation to have with oneself, but it’s a necessary one.

 ‘Landscape’ – ©Jo Sullivan


What would you say the biggest myth is about mobile photography?

The biggest myth? That mobile photography isn’t true art. That critique is one that’s hounded every new art form throughout history. Some who consider themselves purists in any medium will always find fault with innovation. Just recently, Vermeer’s art came under attack for his possible use of lenses in his work. So what? I applaud those who stretch, attempt to go beyond the norm. Without people driven to find more, create differently, take chances, shrug off the critics, where would we be?

 ‘Anna Rose’ – ©Jo Sullivan


What/whose work of art would you most like to own?

Klimt’s “The Kiss”.  It’s the most perfect piece of art I’ve ever seen.

What song would work as the soundtrack to your life?

I’ve two: “In My Life” by The Beatles with Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good”.

‘Rendering’ – ©Jo Sullivan

Jennifer Bracewell is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, she is a mother, an artist, a photographer, an iPhoneographer, and music lover. Much of Jennifer’s work is an exploration of self and image: the manipulation of self-portraits to bring out elements of humor, angst and beauty. Jennifer’s other works are an eclectic mix of country shots, animals, and captures of ephemeral moments in everyday life. Her images have been featured and displayed at Pixels at an Exhibition where she was featured artist for July, 2011 as well as other sites like Mashable , featured artist on iPhoneogenic in September, 2011, and major iPhoneographic blogs. Her work was recently featured in an article about iPhoneography in the Sydney Morning Herald. her work has been exhibited at the Adobe Shop in San Francisco, the Giorgi Gallery in Berkeley (September 22 – October 30, 2011), ArtsEye Gallery in Tucson in October-November 2011 and was featured at the Stephane Vereecken Gallery in Belgium in November, 2011 through January, 2012, a solo show with another scheduled for July, 2012, and at the SoHo Digital Art Gallery in New York City in December of 2011. Jennifer’s work was included in the iPhoneography Miami 2012 show in January, 2012. Five of Jennifer’s images were selected for display at Miami’s cutting-edge Lunchbox Gallery in their “iPhoneography: Updated Visual Dialogs” show, hanging from March 8 to April 7, 2012. Jennifer also has pieces in gallery shows this April at Orange County Center for Contemporary Arts and a three-month show this spring in San Francisco at the prestigious ArtHaus gallery, and these were recently featured in the San Francisco Examiner and the local CBS News 7.

One Comment

  • Tracy M Griggs

    I like the horse head piece.

    Would be nice to include in the interview/column:

    Country where artist lives
    What career or job they spend time with
    Where inspiration is derived from
    Workflow/fave apps
    Include more images in the column