Jessica Hische


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Many a young designer’s self-promotional holiday card has gone ignored by its recipients. But when Jessica Hische sent her hand-lettered “12 Days of Christmas” card to designer Louise Fili in December 2006, she got herself a job. Hische describes her playful, lively drawings and letterforms as “whimsical but sophisticated.” Fili recalls that when Hische’s holiday mailer arrived, “I thought, ‘Wow.’ Then I looked at her website and really thought, ‘Wow! And she can draw type, too?!’”

Hische’s particular wit, with its plucky combinations of quirky jokes and kooky creatures with sly smiles, keeps her sugar-sweet style on the safe side of saccharine. Brian Rea, the former New York Times Op-Ed art director, says of Hische’s work, “If illustration was saltwater taffy, it would taste just like this.”

Originally from northeastern Pennsylvania, Hische had a childhood penchant for drawing architectural blueprints of her house and crafting cartographies of the family dog’s travels throughout the day. She switched high schools in her junior year to attend a school that offered art classes, and went on to major in design at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. Hische says she calls herself a designer-slash-illustrator” because “if you have a really strong graphic design background, you have so much more freedom as an illustrator.”

And though she might bemoan her insane hours (full-time days at Louise Fili Ltd. and late nights freelancing in her new Brooklyn home studio), she remains the consummate overachiever. “Jessica’s energetic approach to type, lettering, and illustration is boundless,” says Fili. “Can you make this type look like ribbon? Sure! Like embroidered Moroccan lettering? Of course! Like a shiny wax seal? Love to! Like an old oatmeal box? She never misses.”

A recent book-cover project for Fili required Hische to create an Arabic-inspired alphabet and embroider the resulting letterforms on a piece of material. “I love crafty things,” Hische says. “If I had any free time, I would be making huge samplers of the typefaces I’ve made. There is no greater pleasure than watching bad movies and embroidering things.”

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