Photo by Kleigh Balugo
SZA is playing in the background. Paint bottles and brushes are scattered on the newspaper-covered table. Kleigh leans forward on the couch to compare her painting of a lush green landscape to the reference on her phone. She uses red paint to dab flowers onto her canvas. Despite the fact that one of her favorite artists is playing, Kleigh is too focused to even sing along.
Painting is a favorite hobby and talent of Kleigh’s. This past year, Kleigh sold linocut printed canvas bags with a design of her favorite Sanrio character, My Melody, donating the profits to the Bail Project. Kleigh also painted a guitar for one of her friends with Pom Pom Purin designs.
Kleigh is well versed in many fields of art. She also recently started making beaded jewelry. Another interest is photography. Kleigh owns a film camera and enjoys taking 35 mm photographs of her friends. She is also a budding graphic designer, creating the website and all of the graphics for Kindergarten Mag.
An art form that Kleigh is passionate about is zines. “I took a class on zines and since then I’ve been really into collecting them, reading them, and making them. I really like the Rollerderby zine, Dizzy mag, and I was a big fan of Rookie when it was around,” Kleigh said.
Kleigh is a third-year journalism major at The New School in New York. For that class on zines, Kleigh created her own zine, titled “How To Get to Heaven From New York.” She included her own photos, doodles, and thoughts in the publication.
“I think some of the most creative people and the best writing I’ve read has been from alternative media. People are constantly telling me that journalism is a dying field and I really want to show people that’s not true. It’s just changing,” Kleigh explained.
When Kleigh is not writing or working on another art project, she is most likely hanging out with her friends. They enjoy watching movies together, anything from old childhood favorites such as Hello Kitty Stump Village and The Clique, to more recent releases such as Emma and Happiest Season. Kleigh and her friends enjoy discussing their thoughts about the movies together.
“My favorite movie is Le Rayon Vert, a French movie my writing professor made our class watch. A lot of the kids thought the main character Delphine was annoying and stupid, but I secretly related to her a lot. Also, we’re both Capricorns,” Kleigh said.
Regardless of what Kleigh is doing, you will almost always find her with a Brew Tea drink in her hand. While painting, she has her Thai tea with boba by her side whenever she needs a refreshment. She has many different boba orders, but her current go-to is Thai tea.
Kleigh believes her friends would describe her as a “mellow” person to be around. This certainly seemed to be true: as her friends grew increasingly vocal about their art projects and their subsequent frustrations, Kleigh remained quiet and focused on her canvas. She paused only to reassure and praise her friends.
With so many talents and interests, what does Kleigh hope to do in the future? “I really want to work for i-D or a culture magazine, either that or produce a radio show,” Kleigh said.
No matter what fields Kleigh ventures into in the future, she is sure to bring a unique and creative flair to everything she does, as she has been doing her whole life.