Choi Haeryung’s illustrations are a mindful journey into a peaceful and quiet land
As a means of finding peace, the illustrator’s work is simple, calm and utterly therapeutic – both for her and the audience.
- Ayla Angelos
- 26 February 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Choi Haeryung’s journey into illustration was a natural one. When she was young, Choi found herself regularly scribbling in her textbook – the kind with plenty of images to make sure that she understood. “I doodled on those images and I made it funny,” she tells It’s Nice That. Then, as time went by, her illustrative practice began to evolve. “I started to make my own characters and gift them to my friend,” she continues to explain. “I thought it was more meaningful than any words or letters; it was the start of my daydreaming.”
A daydream is probably the best word to describe Choi’s work. Each scene she creates is filled with a beautiful melancholia, found within the refreshing grasslands, floating on the water’s edge or in a colourfully decorated home. With a style that’s so intrinsically natural, her portfolio reverberates with a consistent flash of vibrant colours, satirical moments and scenes that seem instantly familiar – most likely because she bases her ideas from an image found on the web. “I usually get my inspiration from the internet. Nowadays, the internet has become a part of everyday life,” she says. Ringing true to the overwhelming amount of information and visual cues that we receive throughout our day, she sees these cues as little pockets of inspiration that drive her work. “Those things are mixed with my imagination in my brain and then I make a new image,” she says, commenting on how old photos tend to have more prominence in her search for ideas.
Choi’s process involves a deep dive into the digital sphere. When she’s found what she’s looking for, she then pulls the image and adds in a heavy dose of her imagination. Some could call her adoptive style naive for its simple depiction of everyday life, but rather, this technique sees optimism transformed and illustrated in all its glory. “I always try to see every image in the sight of a young kid; it’s really helpful to make a great idea,” she says.
One series, titled Missing, incorporates one of Choi’s favourite images. Selected especially for the addition of fishermen, the series begins with an idyllic setting of green and blue marshland, where an alone figure is fishing on the water’s edge. The second part of the series sees another character paddle boarding across a similar marshland, enjoying his pleasant surroundings and the act of being on top of the water. The next sees a young girl looking at an object, while a sandcastle sits behind her, and a solemn palm makes its presence known among the surreal and cubic land. Last, there’s a sandy scene and a father and son sledging down a hill – a basketball is placed quite randomly in the corner. Each picture is simple and calm, and it comes as a surprise to hear that there’s a deeper meaning behind it all.
“I really love this series,” says Choi. “Recently, I felt like something was missing. I didn’t know why and I was really confused for a while. So, I needed to get peace into my mind.” By doing so, she filled her mind with what seems to be the most peaceful land possible. “It’s really quiet here. The river flows slowly and the fishermen just wait for the fish. That’s all I need in my mind.”
Demonstrating how the act of putting pen to paper can really alleviate any stress that might build up in the mind, Choi’s work is utterly therapeutic – both for her and for her audience. However, she expects no simple interpretation from her audience. “I don’t want my work to have the same meaning for every person,” she says. “So I don’t give any explanation of what my message is at first,” she says, before explaining how once the audience comes to their own conclusions, that’s when she’s found success – “it’s a completion of my work.”