Jessica Hische on Jessica Hische

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Photo by Kari Orvik / Photobooth SF

In honor of her delectable dropcap for Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way, Print invited Typography & Lettering Awards judge Jessica Hische to take the Proust Questionnaire—a Victorian parlour game popularized by Proust (which was resurrected in those omnipresent surveys that haunted our AOL and Hotmail accounts in the ’90s).

Your present state of mind: A little anxious, but mostly optimistic.

What defines you: I like to think most people would define me as a friendly, open, and warm person.

Your main fault: Impatience. I find myself getting frustrated with people when they’re taking too long to communicate or do something (when really I’m the one that needs to chill out).

Your favorite virtue: I like to think that I’m someone that always sees the best in people and believes that no one is, at the core (without experience and environment influences affecting them), a bad person.


What you appreciate most in others: I just witnessed a car accident the other day (everyone was fine, but it was definitely scary to see). I really loved how everyone around immediately tried to help. That the main victim (a girl who was knocked off her vespa) was surrounded with helpful people within seconds. I love how people, no matter how tied up in their own lives they become, can drop everything to help others when someone really needs help.

What you are most proud of in your life: I really like that people (friends and strangers) come to me for help and insight—that I’ve been able to build up a reputation as being someone who can help out personally or professionally.

What you are most proud of in your work: I’m generally most proud of projects that I pushed past “acceptable” into “exceptional” (or at least exceptional for my skills at the time of completion). It’s really easy to get too comfortable with work and just send off a final when you know the client will be happy vs. when you yourself will be really pleased, knowing that you worked as hard as you possibly could.


Your idea of happiness: Wandering around a city on the first day of Spring.

Your idea of misery: Anxiety dreams while sick with the flu.

Growing up, what did you want to be? “An Artist”

What do you still want to be? An artist, I suppose! And an educator—I love sharing my knowledge with others and while I know I don’t have all the answers, people have told me that I’m pretty good at talking through the answers I do have.


Where you’d most like to live: Brooklyn

Your favorite color: Warm red

Favorite food: Too many favorite foods to narrow it down, but if I had to choose one thing to eat forever it might be pizza (really good Neapolitan-style pizza).

Favorite drink: Alcoholic: anything very spiritous and not too sweet, with a whiskey base (Penicillin, Old Fashioned, Manhattan, etc.) or a Negroni. Nonalcoholic: Ginger Beer.


Favorite writers: David Sedaris, Donna Tartt, Dave Eggers, Bill Bryson, Charlotte Brönte, and many others (I tend to favor “story” writers over “intense detail minimal plot” writers).

Favorite films: Waiting for Guffman, The Secret of NIMH, Clueless, Chinatown, anything by the Coen Brothers, most things by Wes Anderson.

Your heroes in fiction: I don’t know if I have a fictional hero—I tend to like characters most that are impossible to really praise because they’re also so perfectly flawed.


Your heroes in design: Paul Rand, Herb Lubalin, Louise Fili, Paula Scher, Alvin Lustig, Paul Sahre, James Victore, The Heads of State, Rodrigo Corral, Helen Yentus, Will Staehle, among many others.

Your heroes in type or lettering: Chris Ware, Alex Trochut, Ed Benguiat, Tony DiSpigna, Marian Bantjes, Jim Parkinson, Ken Barber, Doyald Young, Matthew Carter, and my studiomate Erik Marinovich among many others.

Other random heroes worth mentioning: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

Character in history you identify with most: I don’t know, I guess anyone that tried to make beautiful things without completely shutting the world out in the process.


Character in history you despise most: Probably have to go with Adolf Hitler on this one, right? Can’t think of anyone more despicable.

What you hate the most: Closed-mindedness

When do you lie? I try not to, but the times I have it’s when I’ve been protecting someone’s feelings.


Natural talent you wish you had: I wish I was a natural runner. I HATE running.

Most cherished possession: Anything my parents give me that has a good story behind it.

How you want to die: Feeling like no moments were wasted—that I did the best I could with my time on earth.

8 faces

Your motto: The whole “do unto others” motto works pretty well, but maybe simplified to “Be nice to people,” so that it has less to do with your treatment and more to do with just being nice in general.

2014 Typography & Lettering Awards – Deadline December 1

Typography is one of the most vital keys to successful design—and Print’s all-new Typography & Lettering Awards is here to celebrate it. But this isn’t just a competition for classic type designers: We’re looking for projects that feature great uses of type by any designer. We’re looking for handlettered work. And, of course, we’re also looking for original typefaces built from the ground up.

Enter today for a chance to have your work judged by Paul Shaw and Jessica Hische, and for a chance to be featured in Print magazine, and more.