Rad A. Drew Photography: April 2021

Continental Divide at Dawn

Continental Divide at Dawn
Continental Divide at Dawn

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Cheryl Tarrant, creator of the iPhone app Distressed FX!


An Interview with Artist Cheryl Tarrant

Editor’s Note: 

Distressed FX has been a favorite editing app for iPhone creatives around the world since it first arrived on the scene in 2013. The app’s collection of textures and filters in a simple but effective interface makes using Distressed FX a lot of fun and can yield magical results.

Those who have or purchase the original Distressed FX can purchase a recent upgrade as an in-app purchase to get advanced editing tools including:

  •      Touch and depth-based editing
  •      Image sharpening
  •       Save as PNG option, and 
  •      The ability to change blend modes

If you have Distressed FX Plus, you’ll get this update for free. The main difference between FX and FX Plus? The Plus version comes with all of the editing features mentioned above, plus all of the filters and textures for one price. There is no subscription fee and there are no in-app purchases in the Plus version.

Links to the apps:

Distressed FX

Distressed FX Plus

And here’s a link to my brief How I Did It!™️ YouTube video


Cheryl Tarrant and I met on line a few years ago when she saw one of my early How I Did It!™ YouTube videos on Distressed FX

I thought it would be fun to learn a little more about Cheryl, her work, her life, and her story on the origins of Distressed FX. She agreed to this interview and answered a few of my questions.

Cheryl Tarrant

Rad: Where do you find your inspiration for your art? 

Cheryl: Like so many others, nature is a very large influence on my art.  Also, moments in time from my past, trying to recreate a time when life was simple. My grandfather was an early rancher in Southern California and he had an old barn on his property and it was really a magical place as a child. I can remember cautiously approaching the wooden structure, not being able to resist the light streaming through the slats, finding little bird nests in its rafters… Because of this I have a true appreciation for old barns and sheds, so that is a common theme in my art work. 

Rad: What led you to create Distressed FX

Cheryl: Distressed FX was born out of necessity and security to be honest. I had moved to East Tennessee with literally nothing. I saw an article in the newspaper about a virtual world called “Second Life.” I went in and after a while started making textures in the world there. I was also taking photos and using textures to create painterly images. I met a programmer in Second Life and one day he approached me and said, “If you know anyone who wants an app, I am making iPhone apps now.” I said, “I do!” This is a very short story, of a long story. The reason for the name “Distressed” is due to the hard nature of life during that time for me. I literally had to find a way to survive and all of this came from that.

Rad: Your FB page is filled with poetry from favorite poets, photos of your cats and peacocks, posts of favorite music, and samples of your own wonderful writing. Will you tell us a bit about how you live and what you appreciate about your lifestyle?

Cheryl: This ties into my photos, my poetry, my animals and lifestyle. Due to life experiences that challenged me and created a great deal of loss and trauma I truly appreciate the little things in life. Taking moments to see every perfect feather on my peacocks, or taking photos of spring buds, writing as a way to release feelings, memories and thoughts – all of it is a part of me and my life experiences. Some things I am willing to disclose; others things I tuck away privately for me. It all ties into the app actually. A lot of the textures and gels have symbolic names. Not all of them, but many of them have names close to my heart and hidden meanings. The birds, all of those are flocks I have chased here in East Tennessee. Long car rides alone are very healing for me and I would drive for miles looking for flocks and then ultimately turning them into transparencies to use in the app and for Photoshop brushes on my website. Most of the photos used in the app are from places I have been, or are just around the block from my home. The app is deeply personal. 

Rad: What other ventures are you involved in? I know you offer a line of textures that can be used by traditional camera photographers as well as mobile photographers. Do you have any other ventures or projects you’d like to share?

Cheryl: As for other ventures, I have been taking oil painting lessons for four years now. A bucket list item of mine. I am so fortunate that a renowned portrait artist lives 25 minutes from me. I could not draw a thing before this but had a dream to paint like the old masters. Working remotely with the app and my texture site has made this all possible for me. I have even incorporated some of my oil painted canvas in some of the texture packs. 

Rad: Describe your relationship with your audience and how you incorporate user feedback, suggestions, and requests.

Cheryl: My relationship with users of the app and my textures, is important. I man the live support line myself, 24/7. I am the one looking at the Distressed FX hash tags on Instagram. I see almost every photo under that tag. When I look at images on Instagram I love seeing artists support one another, the interactions between all of them. 

One last interesting fact: Right, when the app was released I was walking downtown one summer day. I walked by a store and was immediately drawn in, I felt like I had to go in. There was a psychic there. After some chatting and her giving me a Gratinini*, I agreed to have my tarot cards read. After we got settled in at her table she looked up and had tears in her eyes. She said, “You have the most beautiful colors surrounding you, you have so much creativity flowing from you, I have never felt this before. It’s so beautiful!” She went on to say, “I have no idea what you are doing, but keep doing it because it affects THE WORLD.” And she was right on that, the app had just been released and was being featured all over the world.

(*A Gratinini (I had to ask!) is a gratitude martini made with seltzer water and fresh fruit.)

– *** –

In addition to the iPhone apps, Distressed FX and Distressed FX Plus, Cheryl also offers a line of textures beyond those found in the app. I have these textures on my desktop for use with desktop apps like Topaz Studio 2, and also have them in folders on my iPhone so that I can easily select them when I'm editing on my iPhone or iPad.

You can purchase Cheryl's textures here: www.distressedtextures.net.

Follow Cheryl Tarrant on: