As a visual artist, the pressure to be current and “cool” can weigh you down. Korean born-and-raised, now New York-based illustrator Haleigh Mun tells It’s Nice That about her creative development to embrace her own visual style, whether it’s seen as cutting-edge, or not.
“I started drawing when I first came to America”, says Haleigh. After moving to the US for her high school years, the illustrator recalls how she’d been “a very talkative and outgoing kid in Korea, but because of the language barrier, [she] become very shy at school.” As a result of this lack of communication, Haleigh found it hard to make friends and spent most of her time drawing in the art classrooms.
As time went by, through the language of art, “people started to find my work interesting, as well as me,” and that’s when the lightbulb moment occurred for the previously-lonely illustrator. She discovered that “illustration can speak to people” and goes on to say, “from that moment, I could tell my story to people through illustration and no other words were needed. I enjoyed sharing my stories with people I love through drawing, which I also love.”
Through Haleigh’s wonderfully colour-filled drawings, the illustrator has crafted an alternate dimension that feels safe and uplifting. Her work has an alluring pull which transports onlookers into a world of positivity, and no-doubt provided a sense of comfort and stability to the alienated school girl in the art classroom.
She developed her “drawing-like-a-kid” aesthetic by carrying a sketchbook around everywhere. “When I first started my own sketchbook project, I didn’t use coloured pencils”, explains the illustrator. “I thought using paints was much cooler. I used acrylics and watercolours and gouache, but I had a hard time controlling the brush and finding my own style.” In retrospect, Haleigh realises, “I tried to make a cool style rather than find my own style”, and only once she finally accepted her own way of doing things, she acknowledges, “I could finally see me on the paper.”
When asked about her future plans Haleigh states, “I want to be an illustrator who sincerely loves every aspect of illustration.” Continually inspired by everything and everyone that surrounds her, the artist’s ultimate objective is to “draw like a kid who is brave enough to illustrate whatever and however they feel, and who is also innocent enough to make mistakes.”
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.