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Mobile Photography Intimate Interview with Cheryl Tarrant from Tennessee, United States

Our eighty fourth interview in this series of intimate interviews is with talented mobile app developer and photographer/artist Cheryl Tarrant from Tennessee, United States. Tarrant developed Distressed FX alongside Developer, Steve Liddell from the UK. Distressed FX an iOS photo editing app that adds texture and atmosphere to pictures, giving them a dream-like quality. Popular on Instagram, with over 135,000 tagged photos and with well over a million downloads, users have found it simple to turn any photo into a work of art. This is an inspiringly honest and enlightening interview, full as you might imagine, with stunning imagery. Enjoy…

To read the other published interviews in this series including artists, Adria Ellis, Rino Rossi, Mehmet Duyulmus, Alexis Rotella, Lou Ann Sanford Donahue, Irene Oleksiuk, Kerry Mitchell, Filiz Ak, Dale Botha, Lisa Mitchell, M. Cecilia Sao Thiago, Deborah McMillion, Rita Colantonio, Amy Ecenbarger, Jane Schultz, Anca Balaj, Joyce Harkin, Armineh Hovanesian, Kate Zari Roberts, Vicki Cooper, Peter Wilkin, Barbara Braman, Becky Menzies, Sukru Mehmet Omur, Sarah Bichachi, Michel Pretterklieber, Alon Goldsmith, Judy Lurie Wahlberg, Andrea Bigiarini, Sean Hayes, Oola Cristina, Kathleen Magner-Rios Linda Toki, Deb Field, Emilo Nadales, Lydia Cassatt, David Hayes, Jean Hutter, Frederic Deschênes, Mark Schnidman, Fatma Korkut, Fleur Schim, Rob Pearson-Wright, Dieter Gaebel, James Ellis, Marco P Prado, Jeronimo Sanz, Manuela Matos Monteiro, Bleu Chemiko, Manuela Basaldella, Stefania Piccioni, Luis Rodríguez, Marilisa Andriani (@mitrydate) Mayte Balcells (@artofmayte), Nicole Christophe, Jennifer Graham, Cathrine Halsør Paul Toussaint, Carol Wiebe, Julie Denning, Kim Clayton (@berleyart), Karen Messick, Serap Utaş, MaryJane Rosenfeld, Paul Suciu, Susan Latty (@pause.and.breathe),John Nieto, Phyllis Shenny, Joy Barry, Max Lies Derdonk, Rita Tipunina, Violet Martins, Nizzar Ben Chekroune, Lynette Sheppard, Paul-Andre Hamel, Rejane Rubino, Susan Detroy, Rosalie Heller, Wayman Stairs, Cintia Malhotra, Anita Elle, Juta Jazz and myselfgo here.

What was your earliest childhood ambition?

Being connected to animals and nature has always been a passion for me. I wanted to own an exotic animal pet shop and a florist named “Violets are Blue.” I went on to work in a florist and did quite well but, realised at that time that owning a shop was not for me. I currently have two gardens with various flowers and try to have fresh cut flowers out at all times.  As of today I own four peacocks, 25 chickens, 7 cats, a guinea hen and get daily visits from two neighbour dogs so I think its safe to say the pet shop dream came to fruition in its own way. 

First Recognition?

I would have to say the first, and the one that mattered the most was winning a local art show. It was in a downtown art gallery that I am super fond of. I won “Best Digital Artist.” The reason it mattered the most is because I would never refer to myself as an “Artist” until that day. 


First Job?

My first job was at 16 and it was at the very first one hour photo business in Orange, CA. It was game changing being able to get prints the same day vs. waiting over a week. There was a lot of hype surrounding the opening and I was glad to be a part of it. I loved watching the images get processed and the excitement from the customers getting their near instant images. It also attracted me being that I was already a budding photographer. 

Private or State School?

I went to state schools. School was not a fun time for me. I had severe social anxiety and had constant, what felt like, panic attacks while there. There were few classes that settled me and art was one of the ones. It was there that I felt  I could actually be present and happy. Fortunately, I outgrew the social anxiety but held deep regrets for missing out on some of the positive experiences that go hand in hand with school life. 

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‘Like a wild fire’

University or Work?

Both. I took college classes working towards a counseling degree. I also worked throughout my life. On top of that, I did quite a bit of volunteer work which may have played a more important role in my life than college or work. My volunteer work included working with the elderly, caring for people with HIV/AIDS, as well as doing support groups and other care for those being affected by Domestic Violence. 

Who was or is still your Mentor?

I had several but one that stands at the moment  was a female cancer doctor who eventually opened a clinic for those with HIV/AIDS. She also started a program in the juvenile jail system working with the youth. She created a program that tried to teach the kids about the connection between their childhood pain, their choices, consequences, and then ultimately making better choices/better coping. She taught me a lot about compassion and human suffering, pain and overcoming life’s hardest obstacles. She also had a strong belief in me, and trusted my intuition to do “Her work” and that had a profound affect on my own life. 

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How physically fit are you?

I am currently participating in a competition with a group of friends. No alcohol and we must exercise 90 minutes for 20 days out of 30. I feel super good with my own outcome. I have been hiking almost daily some days going for three hour stretches. I cannot bare to get myself to the gym though. I cannot tolerate the lighting, noise and all the people. I am far more comfortable on solo hikes in nature. 

Ambition or Talent. What matters more to success?

If ambition is tied to passion then I would have to chose that. Without passion neither talent or ambition would matter. 

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How Politically committed are you?

I would not consider myself politically committed. I am politically aware,  and hold my beliefs inward for the most part. I like to see both sides and tend to ride on the side of personal responsibility, and freedom. I can be passionate about the subject but for the most part won’t engage in political arguments or debates. 

What would you like to own but you don’t currently possess? 

I would like a boat. A pontoon boat. I see myself having one docked up by the river just minutes away from where we live. I envision myself having the boat tied up in a wooded cove reading books, working from a lap top with a cup of coffee while watching the herons, and local wildlife from under a shade canopy. 

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What is your biggest extravagance?

This is a tough one for me. I live pretty simple. I would say dining out with friends and family. We like to experience new restaurants, fine dining together. Even eating at home can be extravagant with charcuterie boards, fresh flowers and candles. I like everyone being together enjoying experiences over things. Also, concerts would be a big extravagance.  I am a huge music lover and some of my best life memories are live music events. I got to see the Foo Fighters in Boston. We were right in front. I could reach out and touch Dave Grohl’s foot. It was a beautiful night and will go down as one of the best! 

In which places are you the happiest?

With loved ones, having emotional and physical contact with someone with whom I am connected, and being in the woods alone. 

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‘Weary Climb’

What ambitions do you still have?

Oil Painting. I started an oil painting journey a couple years ago and I am still so far away from where I want to be. I wanted to take my digital painting experience and learn oils, portraits in particular. It took me away from digital painting for some time, but has really changed my life. I just hope I can continue and improve steadily. 

What drives you on?

Passion for sure. About life, love, family. My experiences with other human beings make life worth living. And little moments… like finding a huge flock of starlings and red winged black birds in formation. I really believe life is hard and we are given moments of reprieve via nature, art, music and love. 

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What is your greatest achievement of life so far?

I would have to say overcoming my own traumatic childhood and then raising my son who has become an amazing human being. 

What do you find most irritating in other people? 

I would have to say people that say one thing and do another. I know we have the right to change our minds but patterns of someone that simply cannot have conviction is hard for me. I believe it comes from my childhood chaos and needing safety when it comes to believing others. I like to know what to expect for the most part. I can find holes in stories so easy and that comes from my own awareness, almost hyper awareness I learned as part of a survival mechanism as a child. I know I need to loosen my expectations but it is not always that easy when I am trying to trust someone. 

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If your twenty year old self could see you now, what would she think?

I think she would be surprised and relieved. And happy, she would be happy for me. I think she would also tell me to “Keep going, keep fighting.” 

Which object that you lost do you wish you still had?

No objects, just time. I wish I had the knowledge and confidence I have now and could have the time back where I felt lost, scared and unsure. I would certainly re-write some parts of my history for the better. 

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‘Until the last crow calls’

What is the greatest challenge of our time?

I believe its a mental and physical health crisis along with an environmental crisis. It’s all tied together. 

Do you believe in the after life?

I do. After my Grandfather died me and another person witnessed his spirit leaving our house. It was a tiny ball of light that ended up bursting and lit up our bedroom with a tremendous and unforgettable blue light. I also had a visit from my Father after he died. The key is being open to the idea that it is all possible. Look to the light, look in the light.

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‘Midnight fairy tale’

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Cheryl Tarrant

Joanne Carter, creator of the world’s most popular mobile photography and art website—— TheAppWhisperer platform has been a pivotal cyberspace for mobile artists of all abilities to learn about, to explore, to celebrate and to share mobile artworks. Joanne’s compassion, inclusivity, and humility are hallmarks in all that she does, and is particularly evident in the platform she has built. In her words, “We all have the potential to remove ourselves from the centre of any circle and to expand a sphere of compassion outward; to include everyone interested in mobile art, ensuring every artist is within reach”, she has said. Promotion of mobile artists and the art form as a primary medium in today’s art world, has become her life’s focus. She has presented lectures bolstering mobile artists and their art from as far away as the Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea to closer to her home in the UK at Focus on Imaging. Her experience as a jurist for mobile art competitions includes: Portugal, Canada, US, S Korea, UK and Italy. And her travels pioneering the breadth of mobile art includes key events in: Frankfurt, Naples, Amalfi Coast, Paris, Brazil, London. Pioneering the world’s first mobile art online gallery - has extended her reach even further, shipping from London, UK to clients in the US, Europe and The Far East to a global group of collectors looking for exclusive art to hang in their homes and offices. The online gallery specialises in prints for discerning collectors of unique, previously unseen signed limited edition art. Her journey towards becoming The App Whisperer, includes (but is not limited to) working for a paparazzi photo agency for several years and as a deputy editor for a photo print magazine. Her own freelance photographic journalistic work is also widely acclaimed. She has been published extensively both within the UK and the US in national and international titles. These include The Times, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Popular Photography & Imaging, dpreview, NikonPro, Which? and more recently with the BBC as a Contributor, Columnist at Vogue Italia and Contributing Editor at LensCulture. Her professional photography has also been widely exhibited throughout Europe, including Italy, Portugal and the UK. She is currently writing several books, all related to mobile art and is always open to requests for new commissions for either writing or photography projects or a combination of both. Please contact her at: [email protected]