Graphic designer, illustrator and lettering artist, Jessica Hische forged her fierce independence during a tough chapter in childhood. She knew from a young age that she wanted to be an artist, but it necessitated a school transfer to pursue that dream. With candor and self-awareness, she’s forthcoming about the challenging aspects of her work, as well as the triumphs. Her new children’s book is a sweet and encouraging embrace of bravery.
What is your earliest memory?
Faint fire alarm sounds out of my bedroom window at night time. When we lived for a brief period in Pottsville, Pennsylvania (for around a year when I was 2 or 3), we lived really close to a fire station.
How do you feel about democratic design?
If by “democratic design” you mean that good design be available to everyone, I think it’s great. While I will always advocate that designers be paid appropriately for their services, that doesn’t mean that all design need be “expensive” and available only to a select few. There are good designers at every pay grade (and good “expensive” designers who make exceptions for the right project and client), and there is no reason why even small clients with low budgets can’t try to have good design be a part of their business.
What’s the best advice that you’ve ever gotten?
Be yourself—trying to be anyone else is too much work.
How do you record your ideas?
I use the notes app on my phone mostly—I also use it to work on drafts of shorter manuscripts since I can work on them on my phone and computer pretty seamlessly.
What’s your current favorite tool or material to work with?
I primarily use my iPad (and Procreate) for sketching and Adobe Illustrator for finals. I don’t see switching up my tool set much in the near future, though I’m trying to push myself to accept “drawings” as final art (rather than always having to vectorize my sketches and drawings).
What book is on your nightstand?
Currently (finally) reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
Why is authenticity in design important?
Authenticity in design, to me, just means being true to whatever you’re trying to communicate and not letting yourself get carried away with style. You try, in every way, to stay true to the core of whatever you’re designing for, showing it’s soul, core values, and vision through your work.
Favorite restaurant in your city?
This is hard to say—I have a few favorites. There is a café / restaurant near my house in Oakland called Pizzaiolo that I LOVE going to during the day when I work from home. They have a great food menu, amazing pastries and I feel like a real local from years of coming here. Near my studio in the city, my fav lunch spots are Salumeria and Farmhouse Thai. For date nights, one of my favorite spots is Kibatsu Sushi (formerly Sugoi) in San Francisco. I’ve been going there for YEARS (they’ve moved twice and changed their name recently) but it’s been mostly the same staff the whole time. It’s just a really really solid spot.
What might we find on your desk right now?
My computer, scribbled notes on random sheets of paper and at least 2 mostly empty used to-go coffee cups from the past week. And that’s if I’m relatively on top of keeping it clean...
Who do you look up to and why?
So many people. My studiomate Erik Marinovich for his insane work ethic and constant desire to experiment. All the younger lettering artists I follow who remind me of myself a couple years ago and make me want to reconnect with my super enthusiastic mid-twenties self. Milton Glaser, who I always use as my “I’m never retiring” example to anyone who says I’ll get bored with design and art eventually and want to retire for real. Tina Roth Eisenberg for her business management hustle and people-connecting super powers. Debbie Millman and Michael Bierut for their kindness and general badassery.
What’s your favorite project that you’ve done and why?
I’ve had so many favorites. Moonrise Kingdom will always hold a special place in my heart but my kids book, Tomorrow I’ll be Brave, is my current favorite because it’s the first project I’ve done in a while that made me feel really vulnerable and one that I hope will ripple out beyond the design community.
What are the last five songs you listened to?
Literally: either the Moana or Wreck it Ralph soundtrack on repeat for HOURS.
By my own choosing, I make playlists on Spotify and listen to them on repeat. I have one called Chill Day that I listen to often, and my top songs on it at the moment are probably Fruit Bats “The Earthquake of ‘73”, Yoko Ono “Nobody Sees You Like I Do”.