MEET #34 JESSICA HISCHE
Designer • San Francisco, CA
WNW Member #34 Jessica Hische has a portfolio that is nothing short of staggering. Her lettering and type skills can be witnessed in the titles for Moonrise Kingdom, the album artwork for the Beck Song Reader, and on the covers of new books and leather-bound reissues of the classics. And now, Jessica's work is traveling all over the country in the form of her own stamp. The San Francisco-based letterer, illustrator, and type designer spoke to WNW about working with the USPS, and which projects she's most proud of. Jessica is also very generous with her tips to fellow creatives, available on her portfolio site.
1. You have a stamp... that's amazing! Can you share a little background on the process behind creating a stamp?
It's super cool! Projects like that (not that there are many projects like that) are my favorite because they give my parents a pride meltdown. I worked with Antonio Alacá for this stamp (the previous two I worked on happened while I was working for Louise Fili so this is my first solo stamp). Antonio is an outstanding art director and has created a number of great stamps for the USPS so I was really excited when he called me up to work on one with him. His concept was to write the word "forever" in a heart shape, so the sketches I created explored different ways to do this. We decided on a version where the type and ornament were the same mono-weight line, which I really love because it takes you a second to read the letterforms through the ornament. He presented my final vector files to the approval board and now it's out in the world!
2. Is working with the USPS a much different experience? Do you get a free book of your own stamps?
The thing that makes working for the USPS or any government agency different is that it takes quite a bit of time to get approval on final art. It takes 1.5 to 3 years for the stamps to be released, which is quite a while to wait in anticipation! I didn't get a free book of stamps, but that was probably an oversight, ha.
3. Of all your projects, which one are you most proud of?
I'm most proud of the projects in which both I and the client are really happy with the end result. Sometimes that project is a big crazy project like the titles for Moonrise Kingdom, and sometimes it's a little editorial piece.
4. How long have you been freelancing? How did you get started as a letterer/illustrator?
I've been freelancing full time since 2009 (part-time from 2006-2009). I got involved in the illustration world toward the end of college—I was illustrating a lot for projects and interning at Headcase Design, a small studio that specialized in both illustration and book design. After school, many of my friends in Philadelphia were illustrators and seeing how their work-lives and personal-lives intertwined made me really want to be a freelance illustrator. They worked a lot, but they were in charge of their own hours. I started working with Frank Sturges, my illustration rep, when I was 22 and sent out tons of promos and took any job that would come my way. I started getting hired to do editorial illustration projects, and as my portfolio grew, so did the amount of job requests coming in. I got a job working for Louise Fili at this time, and worked for her full time for 2.5 years while freelancing at night. It's while I worked for her that I really learned a lot about letterforms (as well as in courses and workshops I took later). I started to incorporate lettering into my illustration work when clients would allow it, and over time clients started specifically requesting letterform based art. Overtime, my portfolio evolved from an illustration portfolio to a lettering portfolio, and now I pretty much exclusively focus on lettering work.
5. Is there a time or place that you feel most creative/have the best ideas?
I have the best ideas when I'm walking, showering, doing anything in which I'm doing another brainless activity and my mind can wander. I do tend to have the best ideas / clearest head in the morning after breakfast and coffee, so I save most of my brainstorming sessions for that time! I probably feel most creative though in my studio.
6. What's your ideal Working:Not Working ratio?
It definitely varies. Some weeks all I want to do is work and the idea of relaxing doesn't appeal at all, and some weeks I feel like I'm dragging my feet with work so I take time to myself to relax and reflect. The flexibility to live your life in a way that feels natural (as long as you're making your client deadlines), is the biggest plus of being a freelancer.
7. What scene from a movie makes you laugh just thinking about it?
I was having a frustrating day yesterday and the scene from Wet Hot American Summer, when Paul Rudd's character is throwing a tantrum while cleaning up his mess in the cafeteria popped into my head and made me giggle.
8. If you were stranded on a desert island, with your computer, what 3 websites would you take with you?
Facebook, Twitter, New York Times
9. What do you do when Not Working?
I am a really extroverted person, so most of my not-working time involves spending time with friends (mostly going out to eat).
10. Do you have a hidden talent?
Both Russ (my husband) and I are pretty good at karaoke. I know the lyrics to SO MANY songs from the '90s and early aughts.
11. Any tips or advice for fellow freelancers?
While the freedom to dictate your own schedule is amazing, make sure you impose some sort of structure to your life so that you don't feel like everything can suddenly go off the rails. I'm always playing with how to better organize my life, and post about it a lot on my site.
12. What's your favorite thing on the internet this week?
I've been having a low internet use week because I'm in the weeds with work stuff, but my favorite thing of the last month was the "send your enemies glitter" site, which got so popular the creator had to shut it down.