The first thing you notice about Hannah Cho is her unshakeable joy. She calls herself “blessed,” “grateful,” “thankful”; she describes others as “wonderful” and “the best.” Endearing and exuberant, and prone to hyperbole, she experiences events you and I might call fun as “the funnest time ever.”
Cho was born in Korea and came to the U.S. when she was 8. Her family settled in La Cañada in northern Los Angeles, and she attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. In 2005, Cho was one of 14 Art Center students invited to participate in INDEX, the international design awards exhibition held in Copenhagen. The experience made her realize how design is part of something larger, not just something by itself. “For the first time I saw how everything comes together,” she says.
After Art Center, her career took off, propelled by a style that blends the classical and the contemporary. In New York for a year, she again freelanced for INDEX, helping rebrand the organization and codesign its 2007 exhibition. At Toy, she helped create the packaging for Aerie, American Eagle’s line of women’s underwear. Her contributions included a plain-Jane box with a flowery, feminine interior.
In 2007, Cho landed at San Francisco’s Agency:Collective, trying her hand at motion graphics. She helped create a mesmerizing wall installation for Barclay’s that illustrated the movement of money across the globe. For Rainbow Six: Vegas2, a shoot-’em-up video game, she worked with her first green screens and rotoscoping.
Last summer, Cho moved back home. She’s freelancing now, choosing clients that fit with her taste and conscience. She completed a personal project, “Nobody Nowhere,” which reimagines Donna Williams’s best-selling diary about autism. “I love being emotionally involved with projects,” Cho says. “I want to give back, to contribute.”