We had the good fortune of connecting with Neyla Heller and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Neyla, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I will forever stand by the idea that to be an artist all you have to do is make art. I’m a self taught artist and because as a developing artist I didn’t have preconceived notions what the rules of making art and being a creator were, I was able to figure out what my art meant to me. I was able to decide for myself what made sense and what didn’t, how to think critically on my own and create something I had confidence in. Being self taught is not always beneficial though, like with any art practice there are downsides. I find myself consistently frustrated with teaching myself the very basics of art. My limited historic and traditional understanding can make me feel behind and at times less sure of myself.
I took the risk of rejecting what the people around me insisted was the path of a “successful” artist, and while this has led me to many obstacles, I feel as though I also have an advantage. I am able to define myself outside of institutions and expectations. There are endless ways to be an artist and no one way will be productive for everyone. I take the risk of falling behind so that I may develop and create in a new way. My way.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m just starting. I am far from knowing how my career is yet to develop. I graduated high school just about a year ago and simply could not have fathomed how far I would come. My work was shown in an incredible group exhibition, I have found an amazing place to create art and have been able to pursue creativity in all forms of my professional life. I’m far from knowing where I’ll end up or what will be next, but I do know that I will create what fuels my spark in life. I am going to continue to learn and grow in ways that make me happy. If I want to leave anything with the people who see my art, is my refusal to deny myself and my work, joy.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Everyday a new park, the many parks in Denver are perhaps the best things about the city. Small and quiet neighborhood parks and the bigger busier ones like City Park, all have given me my best memories growing up here.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have been incredibly lucky thus far in my career. The summer after I graduated high school, I was apart of the Art+Action lab internship with the Center of Visual arts (run by MSU). This internship connected me to the incredible second hand craft and art supply store Recreative. When I was first introduced to this wonderful space, I knew I wanted to have my art studio there. Since September I have been lucky enough to participate in First Friday, connect to my local Denver community and expand my practice. Everyday I find new ways to incorporate sustainability into my work through the wide selection Recreative offers. The opportunity to make my art more eco-friendly and to use mixed media in an impactful way is something I wouldn’t trade for the world. Being surrounded by good people and artists in a place that is so welcoming has helped me grow beyond what I could’ve expected.

Instagram: @graphic.intent

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