Since a long time we have a new interview for you. With great honor and respect of her fantastic work we made an interview with Jessica Hische, letterer, illustrator and crazy cat from San Francisco, USA. She had clients like Tiffany and Co, Times Magazine, Nike, Samsung and American Express. Be prepared for our ten essential questions.
1. What is your artistic background?
I have a BFA in Graphic and Interactive Design from Tyler School of Art (Temple University) in Philadelphia. I’ve been working in the general field of Graphic Design and Illustration since 2006 and have been self-employed since 2009. Before going full-time freelance, I had internships at several studios including Headcase Design in Philadelphia, and worked as a Senior Designer at Louise Fili Ltd in New York from 2007-2009. It was while working for Louise that I was really able to dive deep into my love of letterforms and lettering—she was an amazing teacher and mentor as well as a wonderful boss. I was also able to attend the Cooper Union for a continuing education program in type design ([email protected]), where I learned a great deal about the hard work that goes in to making typefaces while under the tutelage of Jesse Ragan and a team of wonderful workshop leaders.
2. What do you love most on lettering?
I love lettering because it combines my favorite things about graphic design with my favorite things about illustration. I love that I get to work directly with other designers and creatives like illustrators do, and that with each new project I don’t have to begin from scratch when it comes to educating the client about what it is they’re hiring me for. I also love that, like graphic design, there is a lot of variety to the work. Illustrators work within strict styles, and while letterers do tend to have a “style”, it’s most often influenced by their medium of choice and general tastes and there is a lot of flexibility in the number of typographic styles they work in.
3. Can you tell us something about your way of designing?
I work very similarly to most illustrators I know—a project comes in, I decide whether or not I can fit it on my calendar, I have a kickoff call with the client / art director where the tell me what they’d like to convey in the piece, we agree on a deadline for sketches and finals and I get to work. I brainstorm first verbally, writing down word-association lists, and use those lists to help figure out a few different conceptual approaches. Next I may do small thumbnails if I don’t have a clear idea in my mind of what I want the layout to be, or I’ll go ahead and begin the full sketch. I do pencil sketches and send those off for client approval. When one is chosen, I proceed to final, which is usually done in Adobe Illustrator (my main tool). I tend to clean up my sketches dramatically in the process of converting to vector, never live-tracing and always redrawing.
4. What tools do you use for your lettering artworks? Which do you prefer and why? 5. Where do you get inspired of?
What inspires me most are other people, long walks, and good meals! Sharing a studio space with other letterers / illustrators is very inspiring. When I’m in San Francisco (my primary home), I share a studio with Erik Marinovich, who constantly makes me green with envy over his beautiful work and is a perpetual source of motivation to keep perfecting my craft. When I’m in Brooklyn, I share a space with several letterers / illustrators (Dan Cassaro, Ping Zhu, Leandro Castelao, Liz Meyer and Gavin Potenza) and they always keep me on my toes. 6. What is your favourite typeface?
I don’t have a favorite typeface (I don’t think it’s smart to—you end up over-using it) but I do have several favorite type designers. There are too many to list here, and I wouldn’t want to offend anyone by leaving them off. I tend to compare to loving typefaces like loving an article of clothing. While you might have a favorite shirt, eventually it’ll get thread bare or feel “out of season”. If you have a favorite fashion designer, however, you can keep coming back to them year after year, each season having a new favorite article of clothing
7. Please finish the sentence: “In an ideal world, typography to me would be…”
…elegant and easy to read, be it set with an old school serif or a very modern sans.
8. Did you ever had crisis or problems in your daily design life?
Definitely! I’m human. I have human problems. Usually my biggest crises involve scheduling—just last week I had so much work to do, but had an allergic reaction and a dental issue all in the same week. It’s very stressful trying to balance your client work, personal work, relationships, and health and well-being. I definitely spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to balance my calendar and make sure that all of my work and life tasks get done and that I still have time to experiment and grow.
9. What is the most joyous or most attractive part of typography for you?
Doing lettering and type design can be quite tedious, but anyone that does it and loves it feels that the actual slow vector manipulation involved in creating letterforms is incredibly meditative. I had the same feeling when I used to design the interiors of books (something I don’t do much of these days). It’s very zen to sit at your desk and begin a task that you know will take time, massaging the text or vectors bit by bit until it feels right.
10. What comes next?
I hope to continue to do lettering work for awesome clients, but would love to inject a bit more writing into my schedule. I love to write helpful articles for young designers and hope to one day turn that into something more substantive than the occasional post on my blog. It’s always a balance though, once I start writing more I’ll be lettering less! I have to figure out a way to keep both going at full speed.
Thanks to Jessica Hische for these great insights and learnings. We hope you designers out there enjoyed the interview and got some really interesting informations about how to do lettering and how to balance it with the daily life. All of us designers love to work for their passion 24h a day but it’s not always possible. Good ideas need a break to come out and good design needs to grow.