Sofia Heftersmith knows what you’re going to say — she’s very young to be an artist — but she couldn’t give a single set of f*cks for your pre-conceived notions. She’d rather just let her work speak for her. And if her current trajectory is any indication, that technique is working well.
At 17, Southern California-based Heftersmith, who paints under the moniker Reeta, is already hustling to make a name in the art world. From designing Christmas ornaments and skateboard decks, flipping vintage finds on her Depop or doing good old-fashioned commissioned work, the young creator/model clearly understands that to make it in today’s art world you have to be everywhere and do everything all at once. At least until you make it big.
Looking over Reeta’s body of work, it’s clear that her biggest influence is the female form — which she depicts with a balance of grit and vibrancy that makes her art feel alive, despite the subtle surrealistic tendencies of the paintings. Her art looks both carefully labored over and spontaneous, balancing colorful detail with negative canvas space or simple captions. It never feels like too much, which is why it seems to stay with you.
We chatted with Reeta — fresh off her starring role as a model for Justin Beiber’s Drew House fashion launch — over the phone about the struggles of being a hungry young artist, the pros and cons of social media as a tool, and the various fields she finds herself dabbling in as she continues making a name in the art world.
What are some of the challenges of being a young artist or a young person in the art space?
What I’ve found is that the second I tell people my age, they don’t take me as seriously. Or people try to give me lower prices on my paintings because I’m younger and less established. But it’s still work. It’s what I do. That’s what I strive to do; where this is my life. So I don’t like it when people try to take advantage of me ’cause I’m younger.
Are there any advantages of being a young artist?
There’s a lot of people that I found have kind of taken me in and there are a lot of mentors right now that I’ve been learning from, and just getting to be around those people has been really helpful in teaching me different parts of the art world. I have a lot to learn from people who are more established and manage to make art for work.