Allison Borji has always considered herself a “creative.” Despite a challenging childhood that sadly included the traumatic loss of her father to suicide when she was just five and her own battle with severe depression, Allison always had a pen in hand and, as a self-professed hopeless romantic, loved writing poetry. After graduating magna cum laude from college with a degree in history, marrying her college sweetheart, and moving around the country as a military spouse, Allison began searching for a hobby that would help her become more reliant on herself and her abilities as she stepped outside her comfort zone.
By researching various types of art techniques and materials that appealed to her, Allison discovered she had a knack for combining colors to create beautiful artwork. As she began painting on a regular basis, Allison quickly realized the therapeutic benefits of creating art. The way the paint swirled and the ink spread on the canvas helped take her mind to a quiet place. After thoroughly studying a variety of mediums, Allison finally settled on fluid acrylic, watercolors, and alcohol inks.
When she begins painting, Allison rarely has a vision in mind of what she wants to create. Instead, she chooses a color palette that reflects her mood or the seasons and guides her to start the process creating abstract art. After reminding herself to let go of control, Allison lets her medium do the deciding. “That helps take the stress out of deciding what to paint,” she adds. Once she creates a piece, she lets it sit overnight and comes back to it after a day or two. Allison finds that extremely useful in helping her create art pieces that she loves. After about a week of assessing the piece, she adds varnish to ensure its longevity and vibrancy. Because of a harsh inner-critic she is always attempting to tame, Allison generally places one out of five pieces on her Etsy site to sell.
When Allison decided to open a shop on Etsy, she received heartfelt advice to “just do it.” Additionally, she was encouraged to take things at her own pace. “I knew if I opened a shop, I would feel pressure to consistently create more art. I have to remind myself daily that I am doing this because I love it, not because I have to,” says Allison. When a customer purchases a piece because they are going through the same emotional challenges as Allison, she is thrilled that her art is supporting their healing process. Her challenges have included learning how to photograph her art and size it properly to fit Etsy’s standards. “The way I see colors and the sheen on a canvas can greatly affect the photo,” Allison states. Another challenge she has battled is turning down commission work. “Learning to say no to commissions is essential to maintaining my love for making art. Because my whole philosophy revolves around ‘therapy through art’, the pressure and deadlines that come with commission work takes away the love I have for the art process,” adds Allison.
Supported by her family, friends, co-workers, and most of all, her husband Omar, Allison has come to realize that it is a gift to have found a passion that helps heal her soul, bring her peace of mind, and help others realize they are not alone. Today, she is better at motivating herself to take risks, growing comfortable with her identity, and becoming bolder in her decision making. Although each year comes with its own set of obstacles, she is learning how to breathe through them, finding humor in many situations, and adapting easier to change. “I am comfortable calling myself a different person than I was ten years ago,” Allison says, “Creating art has provided me a haven and coping mechanism that allows me to reduce the stigma of mental illness while providing hope to anyone battling personal challenges.”
Allison advises anyone ready to pursue their passion to just do it and don’t look back. “Stay true to yourself. Go with your instincts. Life is fragile and short. We can often get too caught up in what we need to do. Find your passion and make time for it. Life is hard, embracing your passion will only help make it more enjoyable and fulfilling.”
Henri Matisse once said, “Creativity takes courage.” Every day that Allison Borji steps into her art studio and lets inspiration take control, she is proving to herself—and all her customers—that anything is possible if we just trust in the process and believe we can.
To view and/or purchase Allison’s artwork, visit her shop “Ink & Bear It: Abstract Artworks by Allison Borji” at www.etsy.com/shop/inkandbearit.