Jessica Hische & The Austin Initiative for Graphic Awesomeness

By / Design

“Freelance means no pants.” At least that’s Jessica Hische’s take on working as a freelance designer, and with clients like Starbucks, Wes Anderson, Tiffany & Co., Target and The New York Times all lusting after her perfected style of lettering and typography, I’d say that no-pants method is working just fine for her. MOD Art Director, Bianca Krause, and I were lucky enough to see Jessica speak when she came to Austin as part of The Austin Initiative for Graphic Awesomeness and trust me when I say, she did NOT disappoint.

I’m definitely a sipper of the Jessica Hische kool-aid for many reasons but predominately because she has almost single-handedly created a market for lettering that up until about 10 years ago, didn’t exist. Her perfected technique of hand drawn, vintage-style lettering, has seen a particular explosion in the advertising world. It’s a testament to Jessica’s perseverance and dedication to her craft that huge companies like Barnes and Noble and Starbucks are seeking her design work when they’ve traditionally only used large agencies to fulfill their design needs.

Jessica says she enjoys working on advertising work because her and ad folks, “just jive.”
In her talk for The Austin Initiative for Graphic Awesomeness, Jessica broke down the difference between lettering, calligraphy & type design. She also discussed her most recent book project with Penguin books, where she is recreating classic book covers by incorporating her Daily Drop Cap in with the titles. If you collect the entire series the books make a rainbow in alphabetical order.

Another one of the many reasons Jessica is such an inspiring designer is the fact that she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She says when she isn’t working she is ‘procrastiworking,’ which is a term she made up and describes as, “when you’re working on something you’re not supposed to be working on because something else is due. It’s very different from procrastinating. Procrastinating is doing activities that don’t lead anywhere, like laying around for 9 hours watching the Sopranos.” She also created the Thousands Under Ninety self-awarding system because, “You know you deserve an award.” She affectionately awarded Austin, “A Place to Get Hammered.”

If I didn’t already love Jessica Hische before I got to see her speak in person (I did), I really do admire her even more so now. She’s a living testament to the fact that if you do something and you put all of your effort and energy into it, the possibilities are endless. Jessica Hische is just one cool chick doing some very BIG things!

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