Haleigh Mun hides an illustrated version of herself in her squiggly worlds
Her work is full of vibrant, coloured pencil gestures, artistic swirls and sweet, smiling faces. Here, the illustrator explains how, despite the difficulties associated with freelancing, nothing makes her happier than her budding career.
- Jyni Ong
- 15 January 2020
When we first featured the New York-based illustrator Haleigh Mun at the beginning of last year, we delved into the artist’s story so far. From a shy Korean high schooler who’d recently moved to the US to a flourishing illustrator embracing her creativity (and making new friends) through drawing, Haleigh’s road to becoming an artist has been a rocky, but fulfilling one.
Since she first opened up to us, the illustrator has worked with some of her dream clients on a handful of editorial projects. These have included commissions for The New York Times, The New Yorker, Medium and Plansponsor, each seeing the illustrator enter a new chapter of her career. “I’m a very lucky person to have these amazing opportunities within such a short period of time,” she tells us. “There were so many happy tears. Everything was what I’d dreamed of and I was overwhelmingly happy each and every time someone wanted to work with me.”
Nevertheless, doubt has started to creep in as it so often does for freelance creatives, due to the job’s inherent precariousness. “There were times when I considered quitting the full-time freelance life and finding another full-time job, because of my unstable low income,” she says with characteristic honesty. “And I still do think of that when I see my friends who are working for companies with a fine income.”
Though she’s been vacillating back and forth about how to improve her situation, Haleigh has come to a conclusion: “My answer to this is to keep doing what makes me happy. Maybe it’s because I’m immature financially, but truly and simply, I love what I do and I know that nothing can make me happier than when I am illustrating.” With this in mind, and with every day that passes, Haleigh also feels more at home in the illustration community, which she poetically likens to a “warm land in Spring weather where [she] wants to live forever”.
Stylistically, Haleigh’s work hasn’t changed much in the past year. It’s still full of vibrant, coloured pencil gestures, artistic squiggles, swirls and sweet smiley faces like the ones we first fell in love with almost 12 months ago. Now, however, her compositions are more tightly packed with a sense of rhythm and energy that get better the more you look. “I want to be an illustrator that doesn’t stop trying to make personal work as well,” she says. “It’s one of my promises to myself.”
Thematically, she’s becoming increasingly influenced by her hometown, New York, where she’s lived for the past six years. She fills her drawings with her favourite spots, each full of memories. “I hope no one uses it as a map, since I only mark the places I care about the most and are meaningful in the scene,” she adds. “I always try my best to tell my own story, but I do hope that some people also have a similar experience to me.” Within these scenes, she never fails to “put a little me” in, so that an illustrated version of herself can enjoy the memory indefinitely. “It’s my joy to hide myself in an imaginative world.”
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.