Natalie Borsdorf inspires local artistry at Delta College


Natalie Borsdorf knows the struggle for artists trying to get their foot in the door of the art world and has some advice for aspiring artists. She also knows success.

The second-year Delta College student is now a hired artist for Terra Coffee, located in Downtown Stockton, where she has her work on display for the public to see.

Natalie Borsdorf next to her self portrait in Terra Coffee. PHOTO BY ALEXZANDRE SALON

But Borsdorf wasn’t always serious about art, remembering she had been drawing ever since she was a kid. It wasn’t until she started taking art classes here at Delta she “realized she could [create] art professionally.”

Art has always appealed to Borsdorf.

She said “it’s a way for [her] to express [herself], clear [her] mind,” and have a “therapeutic outlet.” Oil painting is her favorite type of art to create and uses only four colors during her painting process.

Borsdorf found getting her work out there was difficult. She feared her confidence, and worried about “people thinking [her] stuff was too weird.” Some of Borsdorf’s earlier work were paintings of a giant mouth and another of intestines. 

She also felt there was pressure when creating original pieces, and people wouldn’t like what she was making. 

Borsdorf boosted her confidence by taking art classes and getting a feel for what people liked. By applying to art shows, and having work put on display, Borsdorf was able to build an audience and following and find her style of art. 

Social media has also played a role in motivation because she feels she needs to stay active for her art account. Borsdorf would also paint celebrities who would repost her work, gaining more followers.

Support was critical, she said.

“I feel like my parents really like it. They think some of my stuff is weird. They’re proud because I’m getting into something I enjoy but are also skeptical because they’d rather see me do something more concrete. Now that they see I can do stuff with it, they’re more comfortable. My brother likes what I do and motivates me to continue. My friends feel the same as my brother, and appreciate my skill,” she said.

Borsdorf’s boyfriend, Jerry Iles, feels she has a “very interesting way of going about art,” and has a “very wide spectrum of color, even only using four colors.”

Coworker and art curator for Terra Coffee, Akeem Shomar, said “what she’s doing doesn’t get enough credit by doing much more than artists at art shows.” Shomar also “enjoys that [Borsdorf] wants to put her work up [at Terra] and does a good job inspiring others.”

One of the first pieces Borsdorf had displayed was a self-portrait in the Haggin Museum. Initially, it was a high school assignment “submitted for class, and [she] was one of the few that got accepted.” Another piece Borsdorf has had on display was in the Goleman Library and was asked personally by her professor if he could hang her piece there. 

Borsdorf also submits her work to art shows hosted by Empresso for people to buy, and sells custom-painted clothing on Etsy and Depop.

When creating a piece, Borsdorf takes up to three days doing a study of what she wants to make, practicing painting to “warm-up [her] skills for something bigger and complex.” 

It can take up to a month to complete a piece.

 This is because the parameters have to be perfect while she is working. 

Borsdorf keeps a simple palette and set up because she doesn’t want to be distracted by having too much to work with; this is something she’s noticed while taking art classes.

“Painting as a skill is like anything else. You have to study, take classes, and understand the elements. You need to consistently dedicate time. If you want to be an artist you have to set aside time to explore what you want to do. Draw inspiration from other people and be dedicated,” said Borsdorf.

Some advice Shomar offers is artists should “bridge the gap between older and younger artists because older artists can tell their mistakes to others” to learn from.

While at Terra Coffee, Borsdorf has recreated its menu board, created many pieces to help contribute to the decoration, and has brought the ideas of the owners to life.

Currently, Borsdorf is working to create a mural for Terra Coffee.