We had the good fortune of connecting with Christine Borst and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christine, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Honestly, I really tried not to! I have always considered myself a creative person, but I think I tried to stifle that most of my academic/professional life in favor of something more “serious.” My dad is a very artistic person, and early on I remember hearing the story of how he wanted to become an artist, but his parents told him to do something more lucrative – he became an engineer instead, and only now in retirement has he been able to dive into what he really loves. I was noticing how much energy and effort I was spending making my day job (as a professor) creative – having artistic lectures, fun assignments, and so on. Eventually, the pull towards a creative career became too strong to ignore – I couldn’t be my true self and continue in the career I was in.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I would describe my art as whimsical, fun, and light-hearted. As a recovering perfectionist, it took me a long time to realize that there is no room for perfection in art; if I’m too much in my head, worrying about how something is going to turn out or if a line is exactly straight, etc, it really restricts my creative process. I am definitely self-taught – I honestly always wished I could draw but just assumed that I couldn’t. I didn’t even try until my oldest daughter Eloise (now 7) was about 1 – we were drawing a birthday card for a little friend’s birthday. I realized how cathartic it felt to draw and create, and I just kept practicing. I got some books on drawing, watched some drawing tutorials on YouTube, and then eventually did the same with painting (watercolor and acrylic). In my previous professional life (I have a PhD in Medical Family Therapy, am a licensed therapist, and I worked for years in practice transformation integrating behavioral health into medicine before becoming a professor), I was really drawn to creative problem solving and working with the pediatric population (kids are just so much more fun!) I try to draw on my professional training and experience working therapeutically with kids to write books that are both helpful (for kids and parents) and fun. My own kids have inspired so many of the books I’ve written (like Haddie’s Hair, about a little lion cub who didn’t like to take baths) – most notably, my first published children’s book, “What is Coronavirus?” I wrote that book back in March, just as we went into lockdown. My now 5 year old daughter Greta was asking me questions about Covid, and as we were talking about it, I realized that other kids probably have similar questions. That afternoon I wrote and illustrated a quick book, and shared the PDF online in case any of my fellow parent friends would find it helpful. I was overwhelmed with the response, it was shared thousands and thousands of times! I was on the news and other TV programs in several states, and ultimately the book was published. It was really overwhelming to have such a supportive response to my art, and really gave me the courage I needed to forge ahead in my new career.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
So, we live in Colorado Springs, and I love it so very much! I was a little nervous, because we kept hearing how conservative it was here (before we moved), but I cannot say enough amazing things about this city. I have never felt more at home any place I have ever lived! I think it is definitely becoming more progressive as time passes, and this is particularly true the closer you get to downtown. There is such an incredible collection of small businesses, female and BIPOC-owned, downtown and in Old Colorado City. There is so much energy for acceptance, love, and tolerance in this city, and it grows every single day. Art is everywhere in Colorado Springs – and such awesome folx are making sure new art goes up regularly. If my friend was visiting the area, we would most definitely hit the trails first for a long hike! I love being so close to the mountains and so many beautiful hikes with great views. After that, I would probably take them to downtown Colorado Springs, where we would stop by my coworking space, Epicentral Coworking (most likely because I probably forgot something, and love an excuse to say hi to my awesome coworkers when I’m not working). Then we would grab a coffee or tea at the Wild Goose Meeting House, and do a little shopping – first at Eclectic CO (an awesome collection of local artists and vendors), then Rocky Mountain Soap Market (their blueberry soap is a staple in my house), Terra Verde (no one gift wraps like them, and their baby/kid section is incredible), and to Ladyfingers Letterpress (so inspirational for so many reasons – they have perfectly curated products and cards for literally every occasion…this is a store with a heart, a conscious, a sense of humor, and a passion for justice). If it’s nice out, we may go to Dos Santos and eat some delicious tacos and drink margaritas out on the patio. The next day we would definitely do some more hiking (I just don’t think you can go wrong with any of the trails nearby), and then head to Old Colorado City for some more shopping. We would check out the aforementioned Eclectic’s brand new sister store, Eclectic OCC, so I could say hi to the amazing people inside, and show my friend my latest products that are for sale at the shop (I have a large selection of hand-drawn/painted baby blankets, hats, bibs, aprons, dish towels, and other fun products, including original art on display there). We would swing by Heartshake Studios next, for more shopping of course (supporting local business is so huge to me!) and then maybe see if there was any open studio time at 22nd Street Clay, the pottery studio that I’ve been fortunate enough to take classes at these last few months. After that, dinner at Tapateria, and then maybe back home to sit around the fire and watch the stars over the mountains.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I could not be where I am without the unwavering support of my husband, family, and my girlfriends. I am so lucky to have a tribe of women who I’ve known for years from graduate school, and they have always been there for every up and down (“I need to leave my job and become and artist” and five minutes later, “Wait what am I thinking?! I can’t do that!”) I think it’s funny how the smallest moments sometimes trigger the biggest turning points in our lives. I played hookie and went to a movie on a weekday afternoon in January with a friend of mine. We decided to see Little Women, a book that was such a big part of my childhood – I was thrilled to be able to see it again. I had always admired Jo, who had to work so hard to become the person she wanted to be (including overcoming the patriarchy!) There was something about seeing her story again, and I just sobbed and sobbed and realized I couldn’t live another day going through the motions. I went home that night and told my husband that I needed to quit my job and follow my heart to a creative career (he laughed and said “Uh yeah, I’ve been saying that for months!”) and then I emailed my boss (an incredible woman, friend, and fellow working mom) to set up a meeting. In the email I wrote to her, “I want to set up a meeting so I can tell you why I have to resign from my position” because I knew if I waited until we had a chance to meet it may give me time to get scared and change my mind!