Student Profile: Dora Allen, 'your average Joe painter' | Community Profile | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Student Profile: Dora Allen, 'your average Joe painter'

click to enlarge Student Profile: Dora Allen, 'your average Joe painter'
Photo: Dora Allen
Dora Allen
In the bio of Dora Allen's Instagram, she calls herself “your average Joe painter.” There is nothing ordinary, however, about the artwork she creates. From canvases to hydro flasks, Allen expresses exceptional content with the stroke of her paintbrush to animate designs of everything from Rick and Morty and to butterflies.

Fortunately, under recent anxieties of COVID-19, Allen finds time, inspiration, and clients to create art in any artistic form necessary. Recently, she has taken her talents as a creator to YouTube to show others how she makes her designs.

At the age of 16, Allen displays a "hustle" mentality when it comes to gaining clients, always leaving the customer satisfied. Allen’s talent is undeniable, and as the world waits for it to be safe to leave their homes, she will be using her time wisely making money doing what she loves most: creating. Pittsburgh City Paper chatted with the budding young artist about her work and aspirations as part of our student profile series, created by Gateway High School senior Erika Jackson.

What have you created artwork on?
I do anything. I paint on canvases, on shoes, and clothes. I’m doing a mural in my room soon, and one of my friends wants me to create a mural in her room too.

Why do you create?
I was always interested in it when I was younger. Being able to interact with the internet and seeing people on YouTube furthered my interest in seeing what I can do.

I noticed that your Instagram only follows two people. Who are those people and what do they mean to you?
[One person I follow] is Marko Terz. He is one of the people I watched to gain different ideas. The other is Garyvee. [He’s] one of the people I look up too; he’s like my idol. He has motivational quotes, and I would rather see that through my [Instagram] timeline. 

What are your goals with YouTube?

I want to show people what it takes to customize shoes and clothing, and inspire others to try their own thing.

How long does it take to customize shoes?
Now that I’m in quarantine, I have been taking my time. My most recent pair took no longer than a week, but it was extremely detailed. However, on my school schedule it took between 5 to 10 hours.

What is hard about having a YouTube channel?
Finding an audience is the hardest part, and once you keep up with it people usually stay tuned. Editing is a long process, but I enjoy it. I like putting [pieces of the video] back together.

How did your family react to your YouTube and your content in general?
My dad is usually trying to find business for me, so I can always keep my flow. My dad makes face masks, and he asked me to collaborate with him by customizing the masks [to sell] on Etsy.

What are some of your values?

The most important thing to me is family and myself. Always gotta take care of yourself. I love to create, so my paintings and artwork that I provide are also what matters most to me.

I see that some of your designs have influence from TV shows like Rick and Morty and even The Simpsons; how do the shows inspire you and attract an audience?
Rick and Morty is my favorite show; [and] instead of buying posters, I wanted to paint it. I see something on TikTok or Twitter and it makes me want to recreate it [for my clients who have an interest as well].

You have freshman and sophomore projects on your page. What are the projects, and when can we expect a junior project?
[With the freshman project,] I wanted to learn how to do certain skills, and my teacher taught me the basics of painting. The sophomore project was focused on my drawing skills and technique. [Now, I have a] Post Malone portrait coming out soon. It's harder not having my advisor to guide me along my process.

Which is your favorite piece of artwork that you've created so far?
It’s hard to choose because I like all of them. [The one below] I like a lot, and the Rick and Morty painting.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 18-year-old Gateway High School senior
Erika Jackson says local recognition for her generation's talent is rarely seen. Follow along with City Paper as Jackson profiles different students in Pittsburgh. Have a student you'd like to suggest? Email us.