A word (well, many!) with designer Jessica Hische

15th May 2014 by Ashley

At MOO, there are few things we love more than great stationery and beautiful design (though pugs and cake certainly come close!), which is why our Luxe Project – where some of our favorite designers take a turn at designing our products – has always been a favorite of ours.

This month – hot off the heels of our Typography week – our Luxe designer is illustrator and letterer extraordinaire Jessica Hische. Her long list of clients include Penguin Books, Wes Anderson, Starbucks, Mailchimp – and now MOO!

We chatted with Jessica about her recent Luxe Project, inspired by her Daily Drop Caps project in 2009, and about all things type.

Let’s start from the beginning! What made you fall in love with design and lettering especially?

I went to art school not knowing I was going to be a designer (just knowing I loved to draw!) but ended up really liking the problem solving aspect of graphic design. As for the way I found my way into lettering and type design – I loved the process of illustrating and I had no idea that the lettering industry was so similar – I was really pumped when I realized I could combine my love for graphic design and communication, while still being able to put pen to paper and draw.

Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind your Luxe Design – Daily Drop Caps?

I began Daily Drop Caps because I had just left my full time job and I wanted to make sure I was still doing lettering every day. I ended up setting a goal for myself – a letter a day, going through the alphabet 12 times. I chose 12 because it was a nice big, epic number and it was flexible in case I wanted to do a calendar or something similar. But what’s really fun with the project years later is seeing what I can still do with the letters and trying out whole new contexts for them.

How did you adapt it for the Luxe Project?

I decided to letterpress two of the alphabets and went with the second set featuring a sophisticated teal color that I hoped could fit with most people’s style. I wanted it to be able to appeal to a lot of different people. I made sure to think about each letter and ask myself ‘If my name started with a C, would I get Letterhead that had this design on it?’ My work tends to skew a little feminine, but I hope that guys that are secure in their masculinity will still enjoy it!

You have a few full typefaces available online – do you ever play favorites with any of them?

I had a lot of fun making Minot – I lost myself in my apartment for days and days and just worked on it. And when I made my first one, Buttermilk, I was so flabbergasted by the fact that I could even do it. I was like, ‘You mean I can make a whole font!?’ I’m really proud that it had so much success – it makes me motivated to do a lot more.

With creating a font, it’s such a different way of thinking about your work – I started to get a lot of fear about putting stuff into the world. With a font, it’ll show up in little waves all over the place. It’s awesome if one gets popular, but you have to make sure you create things that you’ll still love two years from now – you have to think about your judgey future self and make something that he or she would still think is good.

What do you usually look for in a font?

I tend to look for styles that are friendly and neutral – something that can be the supporting characters to my more illustration-based pieces.  I really love Sweet Sans by designer Mark Van Bronkhorst – it has a lot of flexibility and character. I tend to use it quite a bit for my tinier pieces since it’s openness and spacing makes it easy to read.

Do you ever get the designer’s version of ‘writer’s block?’ What do you do to break out of it?

Whenever I feel blocked, it’s usually because I’m not working enough. And I’m the most productive with personal projects when I’m completely swamped with other work! That’s kind of how my whole ‘procrastiworking’ ethos came about. I take a break from a project by working on another project. I’m very momentum driven – once I get the pace right, I can just go and go. But if I’m starting from zero, that’s the hardest for me so I’ll take on a bunch of little projects that can get me going really quickly and then over time build the momentum up to bigger things.

Have any advice for fellow designers?

Be productive – keep making stuff. Try to create work that reaches people – which isn’t necessarily always client work. And you can make work just because you know it will appeal to people – I don’t think it’s wrong to do that. It feels awesome to make something that you think a lot of people will love and use. Sometimes I’ll make something small, like a Mother’s Day card, or something that I know for a fact will reach at least one person, and speak to them personally. The more work that you do that can touch individuals, the easier it is to get your design talked about.

I know it’s almost half way over (eesh!), but do you have any plans for your work in 2014?

I have a typeface I haven’t released yet – the one I made for Wes Anderson’s ‘Moonrise Kingdom’. I’ve been so excited to put it into the world, but I want it to be really awesome so I’ve been perfecting it to make sure it can be as good as it can be. I’m also working on a book that’s a catalog of my process and it goes through a ton of projects from early sketches to their final. It’s still in the very early stages though. Hopefully I’ll finish it before Christmas!

You can visit Jessica Hische’s Luxe Project here – and let us know what you think in the comments!

Comments (2)

  1. Page:

    Link to peoject not working. Great interview, though!

  2. Ashley:

    Hi Page! Thanks for letting us know – should be all fixed now ;)

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