“I try not to chase perfection”: Grace Hong on switching careers and using design as a diary

Fundamentally contemporary and unashamedly personal, Grace Hong explores the emotional investment in design whilst championing the separation between work and life.

6 October 2021

The practice of Singapore-based designer and editor Grace Hong is one of progression – featuring trials, tribulations, and successes – having originally studied and served in a different field. “I have a background in architecture,” Grace explains, “but it was too stressful and I had a really unhealthy relationship with design and work. 

“I decided to take a leap and sort of switch career paths by trying to pursue (somewhat unsuccessfully) an editorial career,” Grace recalls, a leap that featured a two-year stint at A+U Magazine, before switching lanes again to graphic design. “I’ve always had a soft spot for typography,” they explain, “so going back to graphic design was really just unavoidable.”

GalleryGrace Hong (Copyright © Grace Hong, 2021)

With this fluctuating career came a level of uncertainty: “I’ve never really owned my work until recently,” Grace recalls, having worked solo most of the time. “I’ve only recently started to put myself out there and started to take my work somewhat seriously.”

Deliberately steering clear of developing a restricting style, Grace is principally contemporary in their approach to design, finding influence in internet culture, as well as “music, memes and powerlifting” – certainly painting a specific picture. As a result, their identifying visual style comes down to the outlet and format of the project itself. “I often use my platform just to experiment in Illustrator and Photoshop, not limited by a brief or a brand guide,” Grace notes, taking a sentimental and diary-like approach to her personal practice by using the latter as a means to document the present. The culmination of these considerations is an unashamedly imperfect practice that demonstrates more than just Grace’s graphic sensibilities, but also her emotional insights. She isn’t afraid to fail, and is willing to take risks, resulting in exciting contemporary work that plays and challenges digital trends and graphic expectations – manifesting in daily-poster creation.

“The posters I make are not related to each other,” they suggest. “I see them as screenshots of myself at that point in time,” only guided by the direction to create one a week. “I feel most inspired when I’m working my actual full-time job,” they explain. “My notebook is often filled with prompts or weird one-liners, then after work, I just go back and revisit them and make posters out of them,” Grace adds, suggesting, “perhaps my signature visual language is inconsistency?”

Noting the personal as well as practical impact Grace’s drive for poster creation has had, she tells us: “In some ways, I constantly feel inadequate in my skills and creativity, so this is just an outlet where I design without consideration.” To this extent, Grace is on her way to finding her place in design, and a unique aesthetic along the way. “I try not to think too much about what I’m doing here,” they add, concluding, “I try not to chase perfection with my posters as long as it gets a thumbs up from me, that’s good enough for me.”

GalleryGrace Hong (Copyright © Grace Hong, 2021)

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Grace Hong (Copyright © Grace Hong, 2021)

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About the Author

Harry Bennett

Hailing from the West Midlands, and having originally joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in March 2020, Harry is a freelance writer and designer – running his own independent practice, as well as being one-half of the Studio Ground Floor.

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