We had the good fortune of connecting with Anna Hong and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anna, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
It is a whole new world when it comes to calligraphy and stationery design. Most people see putting together a handlettered piece or custom invitation as something that can be instantly produced. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. There is an incredible amount of skill, precision, and time put into curating the perfect custom piece for a soon-to-be couple or client. Just the sheer amount of information and options out there could put you in a daze – I mean who knew there were multiple versions of the color white?! I feel like when considering the costs of a custom invitation suite, most people don’t think about the colors, types of paper, weights of paper, printing methods, and different vendors involved in producing that one piece. This is where the designer shines and can help you through the journey as effortlessly as possible.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My work branches into two different outlets – calligraphy and event stationery. Calligraphy, in short, is the art of handwriting or handwritten lettering. I could write an essay if I were to dive deeper into the specifics but calligraphy is much more than just beautiful writing. It is also NOT just cursive. Handwriting aims to be read, whereas calligraphy aims to evoke an artistic response. There is beauty in putting together the letters by their strokes, and embellishing them with flourishes. I first started off doing calligraphy bookmarks in Korean, but eventually decided to focus more on English. My goal is to provide a beautiful piece where the viewer can just look at it, be awed and smile. Event stationery is paper goods for an event, mainly weddings, but it can be used for showers, engagement parties, company gatherings, etc. I branched out from doing primarily calligraphy to integrating my calligraphy in invitation designs, including envelope addressing. Sometimes, both calligraphy and stationery design could work for a client if they continue to book me for day-of signage or requests calligraphy escort cards. My goal for custom pieces is to have their paper pieces directly reflect the client’s personalities and have them feel like the piece was made just for them. I don’t know how common this is, but I have a set of “fonts” in my handwriting and calligraphy as well. I could write in a completely different handwriting depending on my mood and purpose. I’d say this translates well when trying to write a totally custom piece for a client. I’ve always had a creative edge so writing calligraphy and designing invitations is just where I felt I needed to be. I settled on my brand name, The Choice Calligraphy, after much brainstorming. “Choice” is where it stuck. As we all know, life is all about making choices and their consequences. The paths I took to get where I am is also another reflection of my life’s choices. I wanted to establish a brand where there is zero regret in making the choice to work with me. There is also a special meaning to the word choice. The Korean surname “Choi” is also found in the word, which is a homage to my late mother who died of liver cancer. It is a beautiful reminder that she is always with me through my life’s up’s and down’s, and she will continue to be with me throughout my entrepreneurial journey.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Hardly anyone would disagree that San Diego is such a great city! I’m not sure you could truly fit in the beauty of SD in a week. As a Korean-American, I could never leave out the Convoy district – so many options for authentic Korean foods and vibes. SD also has a strong craft beer scene and as a craft beer lover myself, a trip to the Green Flash Brewery is a must. SD wouldn’t be SD without its beautiful beaches and I currently have a special spot I frequent at La Jolla Shores beach. There is also a special breathtaking viewpoint in Point Loma where it overlooks downtown and Shelter Island – I always take my friends here at night. SD has so many different vibes, scenes, and choices – it’s so hard to choose!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would not have had the confidence to continue pursuing what I was doing without the kindness and support from Tammy, Cody, and Thaimae at Ivy May & Co. As a plant lover myself, I had an idea for a collaboration and they were more than happy to jump on board. They recognized my skills and talents, and provided a way to share my calligraphy & arts with their customers through their plant care cards. Not only did it stop there, they continue to reassure me through their many inquiries and that is more than I could ever ask for. As a calligrapher and stationery designer, I could not have built my business to where it is today without the help of my mentor – Laney Ruddell (Design by Laney). Laney has an incredible drive to help entrepreneurs and other stationery designers to have the confidence to pursue their talents as a business, and for that I am eternally thankful. And of course, my sweet husband Daehee who has been supportive every single step of the way. His daily encouragements and moments of support truly helped me to keep pushing on, even when it all seemed like I was running into a brick wall. Love you!