HOW 100: Political Design with Hanah Ho

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On our top 100 designers you should know list, Hanah Ho is a New York-based designer who is best known for her work with Hillary Clinton’s “Hillary For America” campaign. Working with Clinton’s team, she led both merchandise and email design, which were essential points for record-breaking fundraising, she also led special projects like localized “get out the vote” programs and designed Clinton’s campaign policy book “Stronger Together,” which was published by Simon and Schuster.

As an art director, designer and strategist, she has experience in brand identity, digital and editorial design and previously worked with J.Crew. Before that, she studied at Carnegie Mellon University. Today, she is a designer at The Original Champions of Design, a branding and design agency in New York. She took some time out of her daily hustle to talk about how she got into graphic design, the power of political design ephemera in America, vintage style and designing for good.

political design

How did you know graphic design was for you?
Design has been very present throughout my life, my mom is a graphic designer and when I was really young, I would go to work with her a lot. I just remember she had such cool stuff in her office, hot wax on rollers to make stickers, all sorts of stamps, goofy little wind-up toys and card stock sheets that folded into little paper busses… it was so fun to be there. And throughout my adolescence the making never stopped. I would spend hours painting, collaging, experimenting with spray paints, clay, textiles, just figuring out how materials worked. It seems like it was just a matter of time before I became a designer.

How did you get to work with Hillary Clinton, like how did you get the job?
A close friend from college had just moved to New York to work on the campaign and he convinced me to apply to work for Hillary. I applied online and pretty quickly after, I interviewed and was offered the role. I realized this was one of those almost mythical “design for good” opportunities and I couldn’t say no.political designpolitical design

What is she like to work with, if you ever met her?
I never worked with her directly but the people closest to her are some of the smartest, most hard working people I’ve ever had the privilege to work with. The opportunity was truly one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. I did meet Hillary once. She had a very warm and thoughtful presence. 

Why did you take a vintage aesthetic for the Hillary pins?
American political ephemera has this long visual history of simple and utilitarian graphic devices, which I think was shaped in part by the small scale of these objects. We used some of the familiarity and timelessness of these devices in an effort to commemorate the historic presidential campaign that Hillary led. 

How do you feel about the current state of graphic design in politics?
Good design and visual literacy is still mostly a privilege in this country. But a presidential campaign is about the biggest audience design can have. If you’re a designer who has interest, seek out political work. It can be quite rewarding.

What advice do you have for young designers?
You are full of potential! Don’t sell yourself short.  

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