JOPLIN, Mo. – Starting with a five by five foot stencil, local artist Eric Haun creates art on Joplin buildings with a paintbrush in hand.

The design, the city’s name flowing in the form of a heart, is a symbol of “welcomeness and love” that Haun developed years ago.

In May of 2020, while his place of employment was shut down, Haun painted a mural of a butterfly on a building located at 7th and Main Street in Joplin. It was his first “massive piece of public art.”

Haun then realized how rewarding it was to do public art, noting that it “really makes a difference in the community.”

After presenting his art in galleries and selling it for years, Haun realized that doing art to “help your town” is more important than making money off of it.

The property owners at 7th and Main Street had another available space on the building for a second piece by Haun, and that’s where his “Joplin Hearts” journey began.

The design started out as the word “Joplin” inside of a simple circle, but turned into the name encased in a heart.

The purpose of the project is to show the “pride and unity” that Joplin already possesses.

“I think Joplin is a welcoming and inclusive place, to make a visual statement of that is kind of cool,” said Haun.

Admiring the old, weathered art on buildings in the downtown area, Haun added that “creating something lasting is very important.”

“I feel very lucky to be able to create something that’s going to outlive me,” he said.

So far, all of Haun’s murals are located in Downtown Joplin. He hopes to expand to other areas and create as many as possible.

Most recently, he finished his tenth Joplin Heart painting on the Community Clinic located at 701 S. Joplin Ave.

Haun has a few more Joplin Hearts, each customized with colors of the businesses’ choosing, lined up. He says he is shocked about the amount of people who are “open and excited” about having the design on their building.

Weather will dictate when Haun must wrap up the project for the year.

If you’re interested in sporting Haun’s design, it is currently being sold on tee shirts at Blue Moon Boutique on Main Street.

To stay up to date with Haun’s projects, follow his Instagram – @heartjoplin.