Cheryl Fair is a multi talented digital artist, photographer, and filmmaker from Baltimore. She is a full time artist that creates work for commercial and private clients. Her work includes editorial photos for various publications, art photographs for exhibition in galleries, short experimental films, and music videos. Her photographic style has been described as “Magical Realism,” Colorful Photo-secessionist,”
and “Digital painting.”
First of all, let’s start out by telling us a bit about your latest project where I had to “model” for one of your shoots.
That was for the magical realism Tarot deck, it started out as an art project and ended up being a complete seventy-eight tarot deck that was published in 2015.
Photography is just the first step in making these cards. There is a great deal of editing to achieve the supernatural look. I’m wondering when did you start using digital media, and how do you think it enhances your work?
I’ve been a photographer for a really long time and I used film for a very long time. Then I switched to digital around 2008. That’s when I got really serious about it, but I’ve been using Photoshop since 1993.
Is that when it first came out?
Yeah it was probably out a year or two before that. I used to scan my prints and play with them in Photoshop.
Yeah I think it came out in 92, my birth year.
Oh so I’ve been using it all your life. So now I shoot digitally and work in Photoshop. That’s my main tool.
I see from your work online that you often delve a lot into the world of magic and mysticism. I’m wondering what you find so attractive about this aesthetic.
I’ve always been attracted to it. It’s just more interesting than real life. Real life can be kind of average or annoying and so having some kind of escape is more attractive to me. I’m a visual person so I like to do that. I work with a lot of layers (in Photoshop) so it’s makes it look like I can see it in my mind the way it looks in the real world.
So you’ve done a lot of work in photography, film and music videos. Which art form do you prefer the most?
I like them all, but I always go back to still photography for some reason. I don’t know why. My degree is in film making, and I haven’t made a film that’s not a music video in a long time. Right now I’m kind of going back and forth between stills and music videos. I go through phases.
Which one of these art forms do you feel has the most potential for profit?
It depends, you know? I have to go with whoever is paying, as far as that goes. It comes in waves, a lot of people want photographs for album covers, posters, portraits, anything. Then all of a sudden there’s a dry spell and suddenly everyone wants music videos. It just depends
How long have you been in Baltimore and what do you love about living here?
I was born here but we moved a lot so I’ve grown up all over the United States. I moved back to Baltimore in the mid-80s. There’s a lot of things I love about Baltimore. I like that it’s so diverse visually. I can get something really old looking or new. I also like how the art community is pretty open. It’s very accessible. Everybody knows everybody.
Would you compare some neighborhoods in Baltimore with Brooklyn?
I guess. Brooklyn is so expensive and commercialized so I guess Brooklyn is like Hampden. I’ve lived all over the place. We lived really downtown on Baltimore street, when it was very funky. There were other artists there but it was a terrifying neighborhood. Now it’s fancy lofts. We’ve also lived in other artist buildings like the H&H building. They were different neighborhoods. Now I live between Charles Village and Hampden, but it’s a lot more stable and settled.
So you were talking about Brooklyn being expensive. Do you feel it would easier in general for people to be a full time artist in Baltimore?
Yes, I do, because it’s cheaper to live here. Absolutely. I have many friends in Brooklyn that have to tend bar. It’s harder to find customers sometime. There are a lot of artists here but not many patrons of the arts, but I find work in different places. The whole East coast is very easy. I use the train. I go to Boston a couple of times a year to shoot. I have clients and friends all over.
Do you have any last words for young artists wanting to move to Baltimore?
Yeah it’s pretty cheap, come on over! [Laughs] Baltimore is a funny place, at first there’s a weariness for people from somewhere else but as soon you are in and they treat you as family.
Yeah and Baltimore can get a pretty bad representation in the media.
Oh yeah. The media has nothing to do with my world. It is so fake and they say whatever they want. It really doesn’t represent the art scene in Baltimore at all.
Check out Cheryl Fair’s work here!
Garrett Cleary is an Irish freelance artist from Madrid. You can check out some of his work here!