ince this is my first Type Tuesday post I am going to profile my favourite typographer, Jessica Hische. Jessica Hische is a typographer, designer and illustrator. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., and graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design from Tyler school of Art, Temple University, in Philadelphia. Here are some questions she is frequently asked about her work:
What inspired you to get into design?
I always knew I wanted to go to art school, in fact I transferred high schools in order to take more art classes. When I applied to school I thought I would be a painter or a sculptor—anything but a graphic designer—mostly because I didn’t really know what graphic design was. When I was in college I took a lot of electives in different art areas, always thinking I would end up majoring in that discipline. I loved glass, I loved wood-working, I loved painting/drawing, then I took a design class. I really loved the idea of having a problem to solve, of having limits and of having to communicate clearly what I (or the client) was trying to say. I liked how in design you were solving problems, that there were rules to follow, that the point was for people to GET what you were trying to communicate (unlike in fine art, where if people get it right away, you’re probably doing something wrong). I would procrastinate from all of my other work by working on design projects (I think a good way to figure out your passions are to look at what you do when you’re procrastinating from everything else). When there was an assignment for a single poster I would do five. I just couldn’t get enough of it.
Why did you start drawing type?
Really, out of necessity. I was broke in college and couldn’t afford to go on an awesome font spending spree and didn’t have the time to pour through the free font sites for something actually worth using. I noticed in school that my hand drawn type would make the project feel more cohesive and special, so I tried to make custom type as much as possible for projects. Now, almost everything I make has hand-lettering in it. One major disadvantage to being good at hand-lettering is that I am TERRIBLE at picking out fonts for projects. Every time I’ve needed a crazy display font for something, I’ve just made it myself because it takes me less time to make it than it does to scour the internet for something good. Don’t ask me to recommend a similar font to anything I’ve made, I won’t know what to tell you and then I’ll feel like a lame designer.
How do you work? What is your process?
Almost everything I make is made in Adobe Illustrator. All the work is done in Illustrator, even adding textures and whatnot. When I send finals to clients I send tiffs, because the files are usually too complex to hand over as is. For illustration work, I do sketches first which are REALLY rough and mostly to communicate ideas rather than a direct composition interpretation. For type I usually don’t do sketches unless absolutely necessary as most of my experimentation happens on the computer. I don’t use any fancy tricks or even a wacom tablet (I hold a pen like a child holds a crayon (in a tight fist that will only catalyze the carpal tunnel)). I use the pen tool to draw all of my type and don’t use any magic tool to make my curves. I usually work with the grid on at first, starting with a single weight line and then adding thickness or ornament later depending on what I’m trying to achieve. I make general decisions at the beginning to figure out what kind of type I want to draw (a script? slanted or upright? thick or thin? sans serif? retro feeling or more modern feeling?) and then add decoration / ornamentation after the “skeleton” is drawn.
What advice do you have for people that want to draw type?
If you want to be a good type designer, you have to make as much of it as possible and look at as much of it as possible. Buy old type books (if you can find them). Buy art history books about vintage type (Euro Deco is one I’ll always recommend — tons of great examples). Practice, practice, practice. If you have the patience to keep plugging along at it, you’ll be great in no time, I swear.
What are some of your inspirations?
I worked for Louise Fili for two and a half years, she has definitely had the biggest impact on my work. Her collection of random vintage type ephemera is astounding. I read design blogs and look at images online a lot. I love vintage packaging. I like silly roll-your-eyes-ish jokes. I love talking to strangers. I love interior design and vintage/retro furniture design. I’m inspired by other designers and illustrators all the time, by their motivation and by their great work.
Jessica also started up the Daily Drop Cap, a project where an illustrative drop cap is posted (almost) daily. Individuals are welcome to use the letters in their personal blogs as well.
Don’t forget to check out Jessica’s website here.