Design Week 2018: Type Hero

A Lettering Artist Breaks Down Her Intricate Craft

Jessica Hische talks dollhouses and Wes Anderson.

By Marty Patail March 27, 2018 Published in the April 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

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Jessica Hische

Chances are, you’ve seen Jessica Hische’s work: the title cards from Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, logos for MailChimp and California Sunday. Ahead of her Design Week workshop, we asked the San Francisco lettering artist what she’s all about.

How did you get started?

I’ve always loved drawing. I found graphic design so freeing, because one of the things that I struggled with when I was younger was creating subject matter. I didn’t feel like I was an incredibly deep person. I was a 19-year-old from a rural part of Pennsylvania who hadn’t been exposed to a lot and hadn’t read enough books. Graphic design was solving problems on behalf of other people. All of a sudden it felt like, “Oh my god, I can wake up every day and I can draw. I can make art every day.”

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How is lettering different than other design?

People lump it with graphic design because it deals with typographic forms. But it’s actually much more similar to being an illustrator. Graphic designers use other people’s assets—fonts, illustrations, photography—and they arrange them artfully. Some type designers draw individual letters as a part of a larger system—fonts. Type designers are like the architect-engineers. Lettering artists are the extreme craft hobby people that build an amazing dollhouse, versus someone who builds a skyscraper. Don’t hire me to build a skyscraper.

What’s been your favorite project?

Working for Wes Anderson, for a thousand different reasons. I had hit that time in your career, which I feel like everybody goes through, where enthusiasm starts to slowly die and then you become this jaded, cynical person for a little while until you find your new zone. When I got hired for that project, to work for someone that you just trust completely creatively, I noticed just how much more I brought to the project.

Lettering Workshop

6–9 p.m. Wed, April 18, Tillamook Station, 665 N Tillamook St, SOLD OUT

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