Turning walls into works of art

How Muralist Aditi Heins is painting her own path to success in Oklahoma. 
Aditi Heins smiling with a paint brush in front of a wall mural.

Aditi Heins is a lettering artist and illustrator who lives in Norman, Oklahoma. Originally from Mumbai, India, Aditi found her second home after attending one of the region’s top design schools. Now, she’s a successful artist, with Walmart, Shutterfly, the OKC Thunder, and the Chickasaw Nation topping her growing list of mural clients. Aditi joined us to chat about Oklahoma’s art scene and her life in the Sooner State.

Tell us a little about your life in Oklahoma. 

I am an in-house art director by day, and I run my art business, Aditi Designs, on the side. When I’m not at my day job, you’ll find me painting a mural for a local business, creating some lettering on my iPad, or cooking with my husband. We enjoy filling our home with creativity, good food, and the occasional horror movie. I also have a bonus son and a sweet rescue dog who keep things interesting. 

You’re originally from Mumbai. How did you make your way to Oklahoma? 

I came to Oklahoma at age 19 to pursue a degree in graphic design at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. I ended up liking the slower pace of life compared to the super hectic and crowded city I grew up in. I have made some wonderful friends here and found a second family as well. I’d be lying if I said that being an immigrant in this state hasn’t been a challenge sometimes, but it has also provided an opportunity to introduce my culture to people around me. I’ve been able to witness Oklahoma City become more and more of a cultural hub thanks to several ethnic festivals, great restaurants with cuisines from all over the world, and a plethora of people that have also moved since I did in 2010. 

As a creative, why Oklahoma? Why stay here versus going to a “more creative” place?

UCO has a great design program, and after graduation, I found that Oklahoma City was more affordable than most and there was already a creative community that I was becoming a part of. That community has only grown since 2015, and I have made so many connections that I probably wouldn’t have been able to in a larger city. 

Tell me a little more about Oklahoma’s art scene. What could a newcomer expect? 

There’s something for any kind of artist here. There are classes at Oklahoma Contemporary and Norman Firehouse Art Center. Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition gives artists of all ages and backgrounds a platform to showcase their talent, and it also provides resources for them to fund their dreams. The Plaza Walls in the Plaza District hosts mural festivals throughout the year, and there are drink-and-draws every month at RADBAR. Not only that, Sunny Dayz Mural Festival officially launched in 2021 as the state’s first female and non-binary mural festival. There are so many opportunities for artists in this state, and I love the community it has created. 

What opportunities has living in Oklahoma provided you? 

OKC is truly the biggest small town, and who you know and where you show up matters. Organizations like Sunny Dayz Mural Festival and Confidence Con have allowed me to find the best group of women that empower and elevate each other. These women aren’t just leaders in their fields. They’re also torch bearers. They show up, take space, and they’re so authentic. I am passionate about helping female entrepreneurs, and many of the opportunities I have gotten have been because of this network. Not to mention, I also met my husband here, so you could say that Oklahoma brought us together!

What kinds of things do you do in your free time?

My family loves to try new foods and places, so when we aren’t working, we are at a new local restaurant. Our current favorites are Ma Der Lao, Barrios, and Sedalia’s Oyster & Seafood. We also enjoy finding trails to hike, going to local events like Pride at Scissortail Park, and checking out new art exhibits at Oklahoma City Museum of Art or Oklahoma Contemporary.
We also really enjoy visiting local bookstores and gift shops and attending Norman’s 2nd Friday Art Walks each month. 

What are some hidden Oklahoma gems people need to check out?

I’d say the Beavers Bend area! I had my bachelorette party in Hochatown a couple of years ago and it was really fun to stay at a cabin, hike Friends Trail and visit Girls Gone Wine.

What misconceptions do you think people tend to have about living in Oklahoma? What’s the reality, in your opinion?

They think we all come from small-town nowhere and are cowboys. Obviously, this isn’t always the case. We have three large cities, several renowned restaurants, an eclectic art scene, affordable living, and a lot of really cool spots. The OKC metro area is only growing, and with the OKC Thunder, it’s giving us more and more recognition.
Oklahoma has a lot more to offer than what most people think.

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