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Mobile Photography & Art – Portrait of an Artist – Seeing Through The Eyes Of Jo Sullivan

We are delighted to bring to you the tenth in our brand new series of interviews within our Portrait of an Artist column entitled “Seeing through the eyes…”. This is a section that has been created by our wonderful Portrait of an Artist Editor, Ile Mont. Mont has been inspired by the life and works of Carolyn Hall Young, as so many of us have. Young was the main contributor to our Portrait of an Artist Flickr pool and filled it with portraits of so many wonderful people, not only of herself. It is for this reason that Mont wanted to create this section, to enable us to view the artists style through their own eyes. At the end of each interview, Mont will keep Young’s tradition alive, with a portrait of herself, seen through the eyes of the artist. In this case, you will see that at the end of this interview there is a portrait of Mont, seen through the eyes of Jo Sullivan, what a gift!

Please continue to post your mobile portraiture to our dedicated Flickr group, this way, Mont will search through these artists first to interview. (Foreword by Joanne Carter).

All images in this interview ©Jo Sullivan, with the final images a collaboration ©Ile Mont/Jo Sullivan

(To view our other published interviews in this series, please go here).

Would you like to introduce yourself?

Jo Sullivan. I’m an artist, photographer and curator. I’m also a cancer survivor. However, more than anything I am a mom to my beautiful children, Jay Sullivan and Anna Sullivan as well as a mother-in-law to my son’s bride, Caleigh Sullivan.

What does “being creative” mean to you?

There are so many ways to answer this, but I’m going to answer it based on my work as an artist and photographer. Creativity for me is completely intuitive. I never plan my work ahead of time. Something as simple as leaves floating downward to earth or as complex as my kidney cancer and the compartmentalisation of my fears guide me in my work. I rarely know what my art is telling me until it is complete. My mind’s subconscious creative energy drives my art. Here is what I call my “cancer piece”. Its actual title is ‘Disease does not Define’. I used a photo my surgeon took after my kidney was removed in this piece.

Can you describe the time when you first realised that creating was something you absolutely had to do?

Waaaaaaaay back when I was a child. I would, and still do, experience strong urges to create something, anything… It’s almost a compulsion. I become very antsy and even irritable until these urges are satisfied. I remember as a child pacing and searching for something to create, whether a little clay pot on my Pottery Wheel (made for kids), playing with my Lightbrite, Spirograph, creating collages from the National Geographic magazines we had or using the pinhole Camera I made when I was 9 years old.

What are you trying to communicate with your art?

I never know until the piece is complete. Everything comes from my subconscious and that moment of completion is a powerful one, revealing to me what my mind has been either hiding or suppressing. As far as the interpretation of the audience? I have no say and only hope it touches them in some way.

Why portraits and self portraits?

Well, first of all I’m the easiest to agree to sit for a portrait. In all seriousness though, I’ve been obsessed with the human face for as long as I can remember. I am an INFP and am able to read and feel the emotions of others. I love creating a visual interpretation of those emotions and feelings.

What do you think are the ups and downs about working with your own image?

It gets boring. That’s a big downer. The “up” is that when I’m feeling strong emotions I can use that to express them visually rather than overtly.

Is there an artwork you are most proud of?

As far as self portraits go, yes. I will include it with this interview. It is the most intense a brave self portrait I’ve done.

How do you know when a work is finished?

When my mind says , “Stop” I’ve ruined far too many pieces by not listening to that inner voice. I’ve learned to trust it the hard way.

What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?

Really none. Everything I do is organic. The only set pattern I have is that once I begin a piece I will not stop until it’s complete. I don’t put art away and come back to it later because whatever is driving the piece may not be there tomorrow.

What inspires you?

What doesn’t?

What are your favorite tools and apps while creating?

My native 10s iPhone camera, SuperimposeX, Procreate, Enlight, iColorama, Baazart… this list could go on and on. I have so many apps! Here’s one in which I used Bazaart, SuperimposeX and Procreate.

What’s the best advice you ever had about how to be more creative?

To allow it to just happen naturally. All of us lose our mojo from time to time and that can be very scary because it feels as though it will never return. When that happens I allow myself to take a break without feeling too threatened. Sometimes I’ll start taking photos or go through my old work to get me started. That rarely works, however. Mojo has her own timeframe and I have to respect it.

What advice would you share with us?

PLAY! Go back to those old apps you haven’t used and give them a run without any plan. Allow yourself the freedom to just be goofy with art and PLAY! You may just astonish yourself.

Thank you very much for your insight and time

I have been seen through the eyes of Jo Sullivan! It was such a pleasure. Thank you!

Contact Details of Jo Sullivan

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Ileana Mont Born in Mexico City, Ileana is a professional in graphic communications and advertising. She studied in San Diego, CA. in the United States and later on she returned to Mexico City where she worked as a copywriter, graphic designer and creative director for several advertising agencies, until she realized she had a more artistic calling and a very strong feeling for painting and photography. She learned about painting techniques with Mexican artist Irma Grizá and engaged in developing and combining her photography and computer graphics skills through her visual expression. She is now an independent visual artist and photographer and has been featured in some important blogs about mobile art and photography. Ileana enjoys looking for the beauty out of ordinary things and the special things of our everyday lives.

One Comment

  • Sitty

    Jo, now I know! It has taken over 5 decades to truly see inside your heart and mind but now I know.. now I see… now I understand. This piece is a treasure to keep and pass on for generations to come. Thank you/thank FB and all the technology that allows you to express your thoughts and share your talents with us.