Jessica Hische: Wise Beyond Her Years

Written by in Profiles

That Sweet Smell of Success? Sweat.

[By Matthew Porter}  Jessica Hische’s path is marked by hard work and a gift for friendship and experimentation. For young designers, her story should encourage and inspire. For older pros, her will to learn should remind and reaffirm. Either way, Jessica is proof that the best things in life are not free but hard won.


No RISD, Cooper, Art Center or SVA for her:  Jessica went to the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, she says, “Because it was a good school that I could afford.” There, she received a lot of time and attention from her instructors and valuable hands-on experience.

“I had a wonderful experience at Tyler, once a professor saw that you were truly interested in design they helped you in any way possible to get you to where you wanted to be. You couldn’t passively wait to be taught, you had to really put yourself out there and prove that you wanted to be taught and then the world was yours. Education is definitely what you make of it, you don’t have to go to the most expensive school to get an amazing education.”

Jessica loves typography. But! She does not limit herself to it or any strict discipline. She started drawing type out of necessity because she “couldn’t afford to go on a font buying spree.” So why not buy them on line rather than create them? For her it is easier to draw one than pick one out as she shares on her must-see FAQ page on her website:

“I am TERRIBLE at picking out fonts for projects. Every time I’ve needed a crazy display font for something, I’ve just made it myself because it takes me less time to make it than it does to scour the Internet for something good. Don’t ask me to recommend a similar font to anything I’ve made, I won’t know what to tell you and then I’ll feel like a lame designer.”



After a few internships during college and a job helping to design lots of books for the idea fountains at Headcase Design in Philadelphia, Jessica decided it was time to branch out. She created a self-promo piece themed on the 12 Days of Christmas, dropping nearly $2,000 on the 250-piece mailing. She received one call back. From Louise Fili. It was the most successful direct mailer in the history of the world.

Hired as a senior designer at Louise Fili, Ltd, she remained for 30 months, maintaining a lively independent design practice at night.  Exhausted from non-stop work, she left Louise Fili Ltd in 2009 to pursue her own vision. Since then accolades have been rolling in—as have interview requests.  Jessica fields them all with good humor, making new friends while maintaining close friends with Louise Fili and the folks at Headcase Design, where she remains on their list of illustrators.

To this designer/illustrator/typographer/artist there is no substitute for variety, practice and hard work. She says her work has improved due only to time and experience. “Type is a skill that you can only improve on with a lot of practice. Drawing it day in and day out for three years has had a massive impact on my type work.”

Take note. And adopt (or not) some of her recommendations on how to survive, thrive and revive in your own creative career…

1)    Be Nice: Don’t count pennies or get upset when new clients ask for changes

2)    No PJs in the Office: Separate your home from your office

3)    Return the Love: Don’t say “no” to small pubs run by folks who are excited by your work

4)    Mix It Up:  Repetition kills the soul; find opportunities that challenge you to try new things

5)    Birds of a Feather: Maintain friendships and business relationships that motivate and inspire

6)    Teach Yourself: Got time on your hands? Teach yourself some new tricks and techniques

You are never to young to be wise—so long as you are willing listen and learn. Act now and avoid the rush in the middle of your career.


  1. 12

    […] is a great article on Jessica found on N Paper’s blog. Jessica seems to be inspiring more than just […]

  2. 01
    Lena Krieger said:

    I love Louise Fili. Observe the covers of the books created for the 150 anni Unità di Italia of Louise Fili. For those who live of Graphic Design there’s nothing that can’t be embellished with Graphics and Typography. A book cover or the label of a can become a canvas upon which lay a work of art. More info here:

  3. 01

    Great Article… thanks for the inspiration :)

  4. 03
    Neenah Paper said:

    We thank readers who call editing errors to our attention. The two mentioned in the past comment were noted and one change was made. We try to minimize typos in a fast moving format like a blog, but, regrettably, they do happen. The blog writers are human, too. It is always wise to welcome constructive criticism and make corrections whenever possible. For the record, the acronym “SVA” applied to New York’s School of Visual Arts, not VSA Partners of Chicago, as the reader’s comment suggested. Jessica did not attend SVA. And she has not worked for VSA. Thank you for your keen eye and ongoing interest.

  5. 07

    […] Brooklyn-based Dandy, illustrator and artist James Gulliver Hancock (and office mate of Jessica Hische in the Pencil Factory (go see on YouTube) unveiled the first of 500 drawings from his insanely […]

  6. 10

    […] responses, but if anybody could it’s lettering phenom Jessica Hische, who last graced the pages of this blog here and is currently taking a well-deserved star turn in the September/October issue of Communication […]

  7. 10

    […] responses, but if anybody could it’s lettering phenom Jessica Hische, who last graced the pages of this blog here and is currently taking a well-deserved star turn in the September/October issue of Communication […]