Jessica Hische Is The Secret Ingredient

Courtesy of Jessica Hische

Courtesy of Jessica Hische

Iconic brands American Express, Tiffany, Victoria’s Secret and Starbucks all bring you in with their emotional appeal. How can you forget that little blue box with the white ribbon or the frothy Starbucks latte whip caressing your taste buds? Well, have you ever thought of the nuts and bolts that help make these brands even more intriguing?

Enter Jessica Hische. She is an award-winning letterer, illustrator and graphic designer who has worked with all of those companies and more. She was featured in Forbes 30 Under 30: Art & Design. So, when I had the opportunity to interview her, you can imagine I was ecstatic.

SLM: Tell us a bit more about your line of work.

I’m a letterer (and illustrator, type designer and graphic designer), which is a really fun profession that is incredibly specific. Most of my work is for publishing (book covers) and advertising, but I also do editorial work, logo work, title design, etc. To be a letterer is to be an artist that draws words or phrases as one-off pieces of artwork for clients or personal projects. It’s different from calligraphy, in that calligraphy is a form of writing rather than drawing. Calligraphers practice working in different styles and with different tools until they can perfectly write something in one of their practiced styles.

Courtesy of Jessica Hische

Courtesy of Jessica Hische

SLM: What inspired to you move into illustration, lettering and graphic design?

I got into graphic design because I loved problem solving (versus being a fine artist and doing mostly self-expressionistic work). I moved toward illustration because it combined the problem solving of design with drawing and creating artwork from scratch (instead of curating the artwork of others like many designers have to). Lettering was a wonderful combination of the two—the clients and timelines were similar to illustration (working for other creatives instead of the end client themselves most of the time), but it had the variety of graphic design and I felt like I could approach every project differently, working in different typographic styles constantly and just letting my medium of choice (vector) be what unified my work.

SLM: Congratulations on all of your awards! What was it like to receive your first one?

The first award I really received was top portfolio at my school, which was amazing. I was so happy and felt like I had really devoted myself to my work for four years, so to see it pay off in the form of that kind of award was spectacular. When I was featured in Communication Arts in their Fresh section (showcasing upcoming talents) I literally did jumping jacks in my living room.

Courtesy of Jessica Hische

Courtesy of Jessica Hische

SLM: Which jobs/pieces are you most proud of?

My hope is that every year I make something that I’m incredibly proud of, whether it’s for a small client or a big name. I just saw Wes Anderson’s latest film (which I wasn’t a part of) but it reminded me about how incredible it was to work with Wes and his team and how proud I was of that project (the title design for Moonrise Kingdom). I try not to have a “favorite” project, but it’s a little impossible for that one not to be at the top of the list for me this week.

SLM: Describe working with Wes Anderson and clients such as Tiffany & Co., Penguin Books and Victoria’s Secret.

Every client is unique. Working with Wes was incredible because I got to work directly with him and his talented producers. Working with Tiffany & Co. and Victoria’s Secret were great experiences because both hired me relatively early in my career and I was just beyond excited to work with such recognizable and renowned names. Penguin is always a pleasure to work with, and I especially had fun working on the classics series, since Paul Buckley is a wonderful art director and the series editor, Elda Rotor, was amazing to work with too.

SLM: You design type for advertising, books, movies and more; do you have a favorite medium?

I loved working on the film titles, but have only had limited experience working in that medium. I’d love to work more in film, especially for directors that I admire like Wes Anderson. Books are wonderful to work on because you end up with a beautiful printed physical copy of your work, unlike when you work on editorial projects or ad campaigns, where the end result may be beautiful but you usually can’t pick it up and rub your fingers along it’s lovely high-end printing. Right now though, I really love working on ad campaigns. The process (when I work with good agencies) is just so fun and it’s always exciting to see your work appear “in real life” all around you and on television. I also love how campaigns are almost always collaborative. I provide a component of the campaign—the lettering—but the agency designs the ads, hires photography, etc.

Courtesy of Jessica Hische

Courtesy of Jessica Hische

SLM: What are your plans for the future?

Right now the plan is to keep doing what I’m doing, finding more time to work on passion projects. I need to tone down my travel a bit (which I’ve been saying for some time), so that I can focus on working and writing while still being able to take care of myself and “be a human.”

SLM: What made you choose Brooklyn and San Francisco for your home/work bases?

Both chose me! I ended up in Brooklyn when Louise Fili hired me to work for her (I was previously in Philadelphia) and while it took me a bit to love the city, once I did I was head over heels. We moved out to San Francisco when Russ (my then fiancé now husband) was hired by Facebook. I’m not sure where we’ll ultimately end up, but for now our primary home is San Francisco and I go back to Brooklyn often because part of my heart will always be there.

SLM: Lastly, what’s your favorite vacation spot and why?

Right now, it’s Brooklyn, since I haven’t been there in a while and would love a good long stay back to my former full-time home. Other than that, I have a few. I love staying at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs when I want a relaxing pool-side weekend. Internationally, I fell in love with Berlin when traveling there for work a few years ago (probably because it reminds me a bit of Brooklyn). I also absolutely love Australia and have had a few wonderful trips to both Sydney and Melbourne (for conferences, then extending my stay).

Jessica is a true Lemon Lady and her captivating and inspirational spirit comes through all of her work. She is the secret ingredient; we can’t wait to see what’s next from her! Check out Jessica’s site for updates on her work, designs and speaking engagements. You should also follow her on !


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1 Comment

  • Reply April 9, 2014

    Visnaya F.

    Her work is so beautiful. Thanks for introducing me to her!

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