Viewing Category ~ type
It’s been a busy couple of weeks for me, but the obsession sessions are back full force. This monday,
I’d like to share with everyone my interview with a very inspiring letterer, illustrator, Type designer and occasional silly internet person, Jessica Hische. I’ve been following Jessica’s work for quite a few years now. It all started when I bought her first Daily Drop Cap Alphabet Fine Art Print -which is proudly hanging up in my living room- a couple years ago. She has provided constant inspiration with all the
cool quirky projects that she initiates, not to mention the extremely high quality work for top notch clientele that she pumps out at a horrifyingly fast rate. I have to say, what I admire the
most about her though, is the fact that she’s still in her mid twenties and she is running a very successful business that she started from scratch. Her hard work and talent are
what make her quite exceptional.
I’ve been corresponding with her occasionally throughout the years, and when I finally made my way to San Francisco this October, I got in-touch again and she invited me over to her meticulously designed studio in the Mission neighborhood for lunch and design talks, and also since Hurricane Sandy was shutting down everything on the east coast and I was stranded for an extra couple days, I was able to have another round of Design Discussions with her. Here is what she had to say:
I: What’s the earliest memory of a creative activity you did?
J: Coming up with a first creative memory is tough… I feel like my first real memory of myself being creative was when I used to draw battle maps of my house growing up. I would draw these really intense detailed maps of the rooms in my house and track the dog’s movement throughout the house. Recently I’ve come upon some drawings I made as a little kid—I was super into trying to make up my own far side comics when I was very young, like six or seven. Things didn’t always make sense in all these comics but I tried so hard to make up my own sarcastic jokes and story lines. I also did a number of punny random drawings like “honeymoon” which was a moon covered in honey. Illustration must have been in my blood because most of my drawings were more like this, humorous wordplays or attempts to replicate comics, than landscapes or anything that might be considered more “fine art”. I think the battle maps came about because my brother and I were always at odds with each other. I was plotting territories throughout the house and our dog was a neural party. Like tracking the movement of fish through the ocean.
I: Hopefully you still have these lying around somewhere?
J: I know that my mom must have them somewhere, but I don’t know, I really want to find them because it’s such a clear memory to me. But she was probably like “oh what’s this drawing full of squares” you know? -laughter-. When I was in college I took Anatomy and Physiology 1 &2 as my sciences and I was the only non-nursing or pre-med person in my class and also the only one to get an A. This sort of freaked me out because they’re all going to be sticking us with needles in the future and I’m the one sitting here drawing fancy letters. -laughter-
I: If you weren’t doing what you do right now, what would you be doing?
J: That will be tough to answer because I have a wide variety of interest. I was always super interested in biology and sociology. I aced all of my anatomy classes in school. I feel like I would actually end up in something weirdly medical were I not a letterer…or an anthropologist. When I was in college I took Anatomy and Physiology 1 &2 as my sciences and I was the only non-nursing or pre-med person in my class and also the only one to get an A. This sort of freaked me out because they’re all going to be sticking us with needles in the future and I’m the one sitting here drawing fancy letters. -laughter-
I: Inspiration, who? what? where?
J: Where, would be the woods, plus Brooklyn, plus these areas surrounding SanFrancisco and my office of course.
The what, would be everything, it’s difficult to say what specifically inspires you. I think for me a big part of my inspiration is just getting myself in the right frame of mind to just hammer away at something because I think the kind of work that a person does when they’re lettering or as a type designer is really different than a conceptual illustrator. They are probably looking more for the moment of divine inspiration for the most intense concept ever, where as the most difficult part of my work process is finding for the inspiration to work for a long time on something. It can be a break, treating myself to something a really excellent meal, it can be the best cup of coffee plus the best pastry that I could have at one time. Those would be the things the inspire me. Or it can be an album that I’ll re-discover that I haven’t listened to since college and all of the sudden all I want to do is work because I’m suddenly reminded of working into the night in art school I just want to bathe myself in warm feelings of nostalgia.
The who is a lot of folks that I see out in the industry working super hard. Other people’s work ethic is certainly inspiring. A big part of that is that I’m in a transition period after your early twenties and after you’ve had a bit of success in the field where you don’t have to work for 20 hours a day anymore and would have a hard time doing it if you tried. Part of that is that I now have so much other stuff going on surrounding my business like answering interviews, traveling for conferences, etc, that I can’t actually spend as much of my time creating as I used to. I’m super jealous and super inspired by people that plug away and work and draw 24 hours a day. Also, surrounding myself with lots of friends and colleagues that I admire and respect is super motivating. Sharing a studio with Erik helps tremendously because he works way harder than I do right now. It makes me sad and jealous and proud all at the same time—and he’s shaking his head… laughter-
I: I think like you said earlier, it’s stages that you go through, so you knew that in your early twenties that you had to really buckle down, while you’re getting your name out there.
J: Well it’s also the way that your business is run when you’re starting out is so different then the way it runs once you’ve been going for a while. I deal with things now that I’ve never dealt with when I was twenty four, now half my day is devoted to going through email, answering interviews, dealing with requests for really weird stuff, managing conference talks that are coming up, billing conferences and dealing with all that paperwork(y) stuff. When I was starting out, I still had paperwork to do, but I was just like “Invoice .. done”. I wasn’t getting a lot of random letters from people or random requests to do speaking, I wasn’t getting a lot of interviews and because of it I had a lot more time to work, so now I feel I don’t work hard enough, because so much of my day is devoted to doing the businessy stuff that I have to do and I’m jealous of my former life in which I was just drawing all day.
I: Yeah, it’s a bit different when your name has a certain clout, there is a maintenance that comes with it.
J: It’s not even like I spend all day trying to maintain my name, it’s more like I get fifty emails a day that actually require a legitimate response, whether it’s some parent asking you a really intense question about their kid who’s applying to art school, or whether it’s a kid who is sixteen who is loosing their mind because they’re failing on a client project—which is so adorable and amazing, that people now when they’re 16 know what they’re doing—or whether it’s a legit sounding magazine, blog or conference that is contacting you, you can’t just send a canned response, it all has to be very customized, you have to really think of everything before you send it, you can’t just spam everything and walk away from it. It’s just not something that you really think about when you’re starting out, that six hours of your day would be devoted to this (business aspects) rather to just plugging away in illustrator.
I: Share any piece of your work, recent or old and talk about it.
J: I’d love to share all the work that I’m working on right now but unfortunately I’m a little NDA’d (Non-Disclosure Agreement) on a couple of them. So the work that I’ll share is the Penguin Classics project that I’ve been working on that I’m super psyched about. I feel like I have so much ownership over the project—usually when I’m brought in as an artist to work on a book cover, you don’t feel all that special being a part of the project. It’s a client job like any other. Even when you’re working with a giant author, often times you never communicate with them. It’s always like, “hey, we were trying to solve this in-house but we’re reaching out to you because we can’t solve it in-house”. But with this Penguin project, they approached me and said “we want this to be a really awesome partnership between you and Paul Buckley—who is the art director for the books— and they’ve been branding the series as being our series. All the promotional materials and stuff mention me by name, and that’s really awesome and rare because it makes me feel so amped that they’re excited enough about my work that they’re putting my name out there as being a major proponent of the project. So, I have so much reading to do for that because there are 26 books in total and I’ve made the first 6 so far. The sketches for the next 6 are due in a couple weeks so it’s getting down to the wire to read some books. -laughter-.
I: Name 5 websites that you check often.
J: Truthfully, I don’t do a lot of web surfing to look for inspiration visually, almost all of my web time is devoted to email, Facebook, twitter and all the links that come from that. I sort of use twitter as a place to curate all of the outside inspiration sources, because in general I follow people whose work I like, whose opinion I like and I rely on them as sort of being the curators of content for me on the internet. So there’s not a specific daily inspiration site that I goto, nor are there several of them, because it can jump around, I can discover some random persons’ tumblr account and then spend an entire day on it. Or, suddenly re-kindle my relationship with a design blog that I used to check everyday three years ago but I haven’t checked since because it’s difficult to get work done plus get the business worked on plus actually look at stuff online plus tweet often and maintain an online presence.
I’m a huge fan of big letters simply lying around the house. Three Potato Four is an online shop with plenty of Type based treasures and vintage signage to keep your Letter taste buds satisfied.
Jessica Hische is an extremely talented Typographer/Designer/Illustrator based in NYC. I came across her work a couple months ago and have been hooked ever since. You can check out her work here.
Are you tired of using one of these Typefaces “Neutraface, Helvetica Neue Ultralight, Univers Thin”? Well then check out:
“Raleway is a lovely sans-serif display typefaceby Matt McInerney that’s available for free in a single thing weight. The typeface features an alternate, old style and lining numerals, standard and discretionary ligatures and a complete set of diacritics. It’s also available on TypeKit.”
Hi, I'm Ibraheem Youssef
I'm a Creative,
currently based in Toronto.
Welcome to my blog.
Art Direction / Alignment / Colours
Cooking / Design / Folding
Illustration / Paper / Printing
Ping Pong / Type / Walking
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