Rockstar designers share the objects that made them

Jessica Hische

(Image credit: Helena Price)

Jessica Hische is an American letterer, illustrator and type designer. She’s best known for her personal projects, Daily Drop Cap and the Should I Work for Free flowchart. She published In Progress: See Inside a Lettering Artist’s Sketchbook and Process, from Pencil to Vector in September 2015, which gives insight to her creative process and work she’s completed as a hand-lettering artist. 

Hische has spoken at over 100 conferences worldwide. She’s currently based in California where she shares a studio with fellow lettering artist Erik Marinovich in San Francisco’s Mission neighbourhood. Her first picture book Tomorrow I’ll Be Brave gives an inspiring message about trying your best but forgiving yourself when you don’t always achieve what you set out to do.

(Image credit: Jessica Hische)

Bless This Mess artwork

“I went to art school in Philadelphia, and in my junior and senior years I tried to integrate a bit more into the local art scene. There were a couple of galleries doing interesting things, run by people only a few years older than me. I bought this painting at a Space 1026 show. I think it’s the first piece of art I ever bought. It was north of $100 so I felt like a true patron of the arts at 21/ 22 years old. I still love it – it’s had a prominent place in every place I’ve lived since. There’s a little intentional pencil scribble on top of an otherwise cleanly executed painting, and that’s my favourite part.”

(Image credit: Jessica Hische)

Glamour shots

“When I was in middle school, all of the cool girls were getting glamour shots taken – the fancy ones that look like headshots for a modelling career you hoped to start. I begged my mum to get me them for my 13th birthday and was overjoyed when she did. It wasn’t the glamorous photo studio I expected, but I remained hopeful.

"As they did my hair and makeup, my spirits started to drop. I wasn’t being turned into a slightly older cool model version of myself – I looked like a chain-smoking, middle-aged woman on a bus tour to Atlantic City. The last thing I wanted to do was to show disappointment to my mum, so I went with it. 

"I took photos in an iridescent green top with my giant frosted hair. I sassily posed with a leather jacket worn backwards, sunglasses slipping down my nose. I was mortified by the results and they hid in a closet for years, but now they’re one of my most precious and prized possessions. I joke that these photos are the only thing I would save in a fire because I love them so deeply.”

(Image credit: Jessica Hische)

Scissors from Alexander Isley

“I can’t remember what year Alexander Isley sent me these, but they were his client gift for the holidays that year. It must have been when we collaborated on a project for the Girl Scouts, somewhere around 2012/2013. 

"When they arrived in the mail I was so blown away. I didn’t think scissors could be an object of beauty. There’s an inscription on the inside that says ‘Alexander Isley Inc.: Useful & Sharp’. They were significant to me for a few reasons. First, it was crazy to be on the gift list of such a renowned designer – one who I learned about in school. Second, it completely recalibrated my preconceptions about what makes a good client gift/promotional piece. 

"I have been quite lazy about sending out gifts to people I’ve worked with or people I admire professionally, and the presence of these scissors on my desk in my life reminds me the difference that extra care and effort (and cost) can make.”

Next page: Benjamin Van Oost

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Founder & director of Inkygoodness, Lisa is a published writer and arts journalist, focusing on creative business, graphic art and illustration and design education. Her words have appeared in Computer Arts magazine, Creative Bloq, Digital Arts and IdN.