"Having someone to share life with is important. A friend, a partner, a pet. I spend a good amount of time alone/with my dog Happy. Laughing with a friend in the city also makes me feel alive. Lean towards people who lift you up. Painting this felt playful and that is a quality I admire in a friend. I also appreciate flexibility and forgiveness! What traits do you look for in a friend?"
- Allie Olson
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New York City
“When channeled with healing, our challenges can give us our superpowers.”
Bubbling with personality, ideas, and compassion, Allie Olson and her art have a positive influence on every life she touches. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she moved to Kentucky as a young teen and relocated to Brooklyn over a decade ago. As a child, she enjoyed creating holiday and thank you cards for others. She also played the game Masterpiece, a family board game whose premise was to collect and sell artwork. This brought art as a career into her forefront, and Allie began identifying herself as an artist. She shares, “In my childhood books that ask what I want to be when I grow up, it always says Artist.”
As she grew, so did her desire to create. She enjoyed collaging paper and envelopes into new works of art and sending them in the mail to others, a process that is still used in her work. At age 14, she began creating her own jewelry and drawings and selling them to her classmates, which eventually blossomed into her selling at arts and craft shows and local shops. Allie had an eye for design and entrepreneurship from a young age, which has only strengthened over the years.
Creating fulfilled her deeply while also helping to process complex emotions. Allie describes, “Living a nomadic lifestyle as a child, creativity was a way for me to self soothe, feel connected and explore my imagination. It helped me through trauma and still does.” Creating art became a strong coping tool to help with anxiety and depression. Adding painting to her repertoire in her 30’s, Allie continued to enjoy the meditative process of artmaking while also sharing it with others. She produced a Kids Youtube show called ALLIEVILLE, exploring art and self expression and inspiring the next generation.
During the pandemic, Allie was handed a new and formidable challenge: cancer. After noticing a painful lump, she spent the next 9 months enduring over 50 doctor’s visits, until she finally received diagnosis of a rare breast cancer called Invasive Carcinoma with Medullary Features. As a triple negative breast cancer which is more aggressive and offers less treatment options, she spent the next year undergoing chemo, radiation, and surgery.
“After getting cancer, art helped me make it through long episodes of being alone. It's what I turn to during depressive episodes and anxiety attacks. Art is healing.”
Allie pushed to combat the fatigue of chemo, still doing her best to take care of herself, her Etsy art-selling business and her kid’s show, but she had to make difficult decisions on where to exert her energy. Still, she continued to be a bright light for everyone who came in contact with her.
During treatments, Allie created a new project to keep her and her nurses’ spirits high: Radiation Runway. Each session, she would create a new outfit using her hospital gown, unleashing her creativity despite being in a vulnerable time. Eventually, Allie compiled her outfits into a video that went viral! As of mid-2022, Allie is currently cancer-free but still adjusting to the after effects of chemo and putting her life on hold for 2 years.
Returning to her art career, Allie is bursting with ideas and inspiration. As Allie says, “I don't know how NOT to make art!” Her style is always developing as she is curious and fearless of new techniques, mediums and tools, however she also has some staples to her style. “The two consistent themes in my work are giving and surprise. I call it whimsical delight.” she describes.
She also incorporates a common thread of destruction and reconstruction, bold linework and texture. The construction element dates back to her childhood love of collaging which has been mastered through the years. Allie shares, “My first loves will always be paper and glue. Tearing paper up and gluing it down is so soothing.” Additionally, she loves using materials around the house or vintage remnants like photographs that have been tossed aside. “It's rewarding to give forgotten items life again. I also love paper and wood because it's natural. They come from trees which feels grounded. There is a special feeling when something old and forgotten is able to be loved and cherished but in a new way,” Allie explains.
Sets and series mark much of Allie’s work. “Many of my series begin as lessons in learning something new,” she shares. The deep exploration of a theme while working on several pieces at once keeps her in a flow state and creates harmonious series. Inspiration is abundant for her, whether it be New York City, public transportation, conversations with strangers, nature, machines, history, the future, or the emotions of our collective society. A bowl of spilled blueberries or a dress hanging from a balcony have both inspired previous works of art!
Allie is hopeful to continue growing her career through many different projects and avenues. She gives back by teaching art to young cancer patients and hosting art events in the community. “I am so happy people are able to engage with something I poured love into. That is a joyful feeling. There is nothing quite like having someone tell me I made a difference in their day in a positive way,” she says.
She dreams of helping other artists, children and underprivileged visionaries be able to bring their ideas to life, as well as the overarching goal of bringing joy into the world and connecting with people and nature. Passionate about health awareness, equality and children’s wellbeing, she continues to advocate and find creative ways to help others. When she’s not creating, she enjoys playing with her dog, Happy, going to coffee shops, dancing and daydreaming.
ArtLifting champions artists impacted by disabilities and housing insecurity by connecting their art with socially-conscious customers . Learn more here.