Haelyn Lee

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Haelyn Lee

Illustrator / Designer

Westwood, Los Angeles, CA

www.haelyncreative.com
www.haelyn.com
instagram @haelyncreates
instagram @haelynloves
twitter @haelynlee1
 

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I create illustrations and graphic designs for product packaging.

This includes (but is not exclusive to) packaging for beverage, food, snacks, cosmetics, miscellaneous household products, beauty, you name it! In addition, I also create images for print and digital, which includes branding, promotional materials, trade show signage, retail displays, invitations, look books, websites, presentations…

I also do a few commissioned portrait illustrations per month, which is a nice break away from the computer screen to get to work with pencil, paint and my hands.
 

WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?

I drew all throughout my childhood, since as far back as I can remember. When I was in high school my parents enrolled me in private art classes, where my classical training began. After I graduated from high school, I attended Otis College of Art & Design where I received a BFA in Communication Arts/Illustration. The first few months after graduating, I took all the freelance jobs I could get, which kept me afloat and working. One of the freelance gigs I got was at a design firm in Los Angeles, where I was hired to illustrate decorative motifs and patterns for food packaging. Five months later, I accepted their offer for full-time employment. I stayed with this company for 11 years, and by the time I left I was one of their Senior Art Directors. In 2015 I took a 14-month break from working to travel abroad, and when I returned to Los Angeles I rebuilt my freelance business. So far so good!
 

How do you stand out in your field?

I feel unqualified to assume what other people in my field lack. But I can say that for me, the times when I was struggling, what had me get ahead was hustling and also listening better to the needs of my clients and the market. Making a committed effort to get in their world, in their shoes (rather than looking at it like I’m the designer over here and the client is over there), so that I could see from their perspective and even anticipate what they wanted before they said it. I feel like this brought me more repeat business because clients felt like they could relax and trust me.
 

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WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?

June-August is the slow season with my seasonal design and packaging work, so for summer I’ve lined up portrait commissions which have promised delivery dates between now and December.

In my free time I’m also working on some children’s picture book ideas.
 

WHAT'S YOUR STYLE/PERSPECTIVE/TASTE? DO YOU HAVE A PROJECT THAT REPRESENTS THIS? 

It depends on what I’m working on. I’m versatile so I try to be accommodating to the clients’ vision, without compromising my standards of design sense and quality. In graphic design I prefer order: clean, contemporary and uncluttered. Intentional.

My digital illustration style tends to be whimsical and fun, I do a lot of character designs and festive seasonal/holiday motifs. But even here I like clean lines and some order.

As for my traditional illustrations, anything goes! I draw what makes me happy, what makes me chuckle, and sometimes what moves me. My traditional media work and commissioned work are more personal and meaningful. I like making images and portraits that create an emotional connection with the viewer, or tells a story, and this is also what I hope to bring to my picture book projects.
 

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WE ARE ALL SLASHIES WITH MULTIPLE SKILLS, WHICH ONE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD DO MORE OFTEN?

Eventually, I would like to focus more on building my commercial illustration and picture book illustration career.
 

WHAT IS FRUSTRATING YOU RIGHT NOW?

What causes me the most interruption of flow are the administrative tasks: the project tracking, invoicing, billing, taxes, legalities, self-promotion, etc. It’s just part of being a solo-preneur, having to wear all the hats, but sometimes I’m so burnt out by doing this stuff that I lose steam when it’s time to get to work on creative execution. 
 

IF YOU COULD HIRE SOMEONE FOR $20/HR, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE THEM DO TO MAKE YOUR DAY EASIER?

I would have them do all the stuff I mentioned in the previous question! The administrative tasks and project managing me!
 

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LET'S BRING OUT THE TIME MACHINE. WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE TOLD YOURSELF, WHEN, AND WHY?

I would have told myself back in 2000, when I had just started art college, to begin building my professional foundation. I didn’t think seriously about career-building until I graduated, and I think if I was more rigorous and disciplined from the beginning, particularly about picture books, I’d probably have an established author-illustrator career by now (one would hope!).
 

IF YOU COULD TALK TO AN EXPERT TO GAIN MORE INSIGHT ON SOMETHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?

I want insights on everything! I’m hungry for learning. I’d want to talk to agents and art reps and lawyers about intellectual property and licensing and negotiation. I’d want to talk to Jungian analysts about the human psyche, dreams, archetypes... I’d want to talk to physicists who can tell me about string theory and quantum mechanics and the multiverse. 
 

WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES/PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?

I’m looking for more packaging design projects! Extra bonus if I get to do illustrations! The most fun are packaging for foods, beverage, bottle labels, candies/gourmet, desserts, beauty. Ideally I’d like to build a long-term relationship with a client or company who has these design needs on a perennial basis.

Additionally, I’d like to do more commercial illustration projects for either print or digital publication.
 

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DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAL JOB/CLIENT/COLLABORATION.

My ideal client generally knows what they want. They’re clear upfront about the project, the general look/feel/style they have in mind, they know what they need in their hands and by when, and they give me enough time. They respond to communications in a clear and timely manner so we can all work efficiently and stay on schedule. And I’m sure all creatives would agree that the ideal client knows the value of an experienced designer and you get what you pay for. ☺
 

WHAT IS YOUR HOURLY RATE, RETAINER, OR SALARY RANGE? 

My hourly rate is $75. For rush projects, $100/hr.
 

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HOW SHOULD SOMEONE APPROACH YOU ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER?

Email is probably the most efficient way to reach out at first, because with one communication you can include the introduction, project, timing, budget, etc and I don’t have to take notes like I would on a phone call. Phone calls are good for staying connected and ensuring you’re on the same page, but for exchanging information and project details, I prefer email. But sometimes I get a call first from a client just to say hello to a human voice and to confirm I’m open to talking about a project, and that’s perfectly good too.
 

HOW DO YOU STAY CREATIVE?

I read voraciously: picture books, YA, fiction, non-fiction, biographies, scripture, articles…


This member profile was originally published in August 2018.