W…WWTQ? Stefan Bucher Asks Jessica Hische to Dance

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Cover of the book "344 Questions"

Welcome to the second installment of WWWTQ, where I ask some of my favorite designers for answers to questions from my new book “344 Questions.” It’s not easy to follow Christopher Simmons’ excellent 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 Arts. Considering her very personal work, I was curious how she felt about finding her voice. Here’s what she had to say.

How did you find your voice? Have you?

I do believe I’ve found my voice, but it took me a while to feel confident that I had. While many might think of “your voice” as being “your style”, to me it was discovering how to play to my own strengths and weaknesses, essentially learning how to be myself online and professionally. My parents always told me I wouldn’t know “who I was” until I was in my mid-twenties, and like all good daughters I didn’t believe them, thinking I was an adult at 16. It really did take a bit of time to know myself, what I’m good at, what I’m terrible at, and how I can play to each of those things to better my professional self.

Is your voice something you can decide on, or is it something you discover in retrospect, something that becomes apparent when you look back at all the work you’ve accumulated over years and years?

If you’re thinking about your voice in terms of the style and general point of view of your work, I think it’s something you’re constantly molding and manipulating whether you’re aware of it or not. If you solidly declare, “I’ve found my voice” you might not progress as naturally as you would have if you felt the constant need to reach for it. I like to think that I’ve found my voice in this time and place, and that while I know that parts of that voice will remain intact no matter what, the rest is malleable and will grow as I grow.


Jessica Hische: More Mischief than Mustache.

If you had to describe your work as you would describe a person, what would it look like? How old would it be? What would it wear? Who would it vote for? Who would it sound like? What music would it listen to?

Many people have told me when meeting me in person that I’m just like my work. I think my work is warm and optimistic, often a little cheesy and juvenile, but still sophisticated enough to be taken seriously. If you know me, I’m a goofball. I’m depressingly cheerful and optimistic (unless hungry or coffee-deprived). I think my work might be a bit more naive than I am personally, though that’s probably up for debate.

What, if anything, would you change about that?

I’ve always wished that I was able to get “cooler” work. When I first started doing illustration, I would never be hired for “smart” books or articles—books you could see hip Brooklynites reading while sipping scotch. My work (and I) are not very mysterious and it does take a bit of that personality to get that kind of work.

Is this like looking at your feet while you’re dancing?

Absolutely. I think if you think too hard about what you’re doing, you trip over yourself. Some people have mastered thoughtful breath regulation, and some nearly suffocate themselves once they’re aware of it. I think I operate better if I just let the work happen and take on projects that feel right.

What will you eventually do differently?

I think right now I try to do too much. I’m still young and as much as many people are aware of my work, I still don’t feel secure with my spot in the industry. I love all the side projects and client work that I do, but need to teach myself how to slow down, take a break, and delegate.

What about you? Do you feel you’ve found your voice? What made you realize that you had? And if not, how do you know that you haven’t? Why won’t you talk to me? For God’s sake, say something!

Stefan G. BucherStefan G. Bucher is a designer, illustrator, and writer.
Here’s proof: 344 Design – DailyMonster – On Amazon.

  1. 10

    Thank you Stefan & Jessica for this great little interview. I’m a huge fan of Jessica’s work and hearing her speak in person or write about it is very inspiring. It’s nice to see someone with such a gentle confidence. It doesn’t make you feel intimidated, only energized to aspire to that in your own way.

  2. 10

    Love Jessica and appreciate her responses. It’s always good to hear we all feel insecure sometimes.

  3. 10
    Neenah Paper said:

    Jessica Hische with Bucher? 2 x Funny and 4 x brilliant.

  4. 12
    Don Gura said:

    Fun read. Look forward to reding more.

  5. 12
    Sarah Nelson said:

    Love Jessica’s work. Brilliant post. Thank you!

  6. 12
    Jean @ JK Designs said:

    Thanks for the insightful interview. I think all designers are continually evolving and their voice will take on various forms during different stages of their work and personal experiences. Will be interesting to watch Jessica’s as life influences her artistic expression.

  7. 12
    Hallie Cantlebary said:

    Bravo! These guys are so clever and funny.

  8. 12
    Will Cameron said:

    Its nice to see conversations between top illustrators with such contrasting standpoints on design application. Its also nice to hear that even when becoming successful as a creative, there isn’t a lack of drive to discover new callings and continue to mold your creative thought processes. This is something I had never thought about as a student. I have never really looked for and ending or final calling, just another rung on a ladder, similar to Martin Puryear’s, that doesn’t yet reveal an ending. Of course, the ending is perception of what you consider a stopping point and most creatives tend to never be completely satisfied. In this case, I believe it is truly up to the person to decide where to draw the line of satisfaction; there will always be more there, you just have to decide to look for it or at the very least, believe in it.

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    Anita lam said:

    Right on, Jessica. I agree that we should embrace the niche that organically happens with our style and make the best out of it. And I am a believer that humility (not equivalent to low self-esteem) will take designers to higher places.

  10. 12
    Jennifer said:

    On my very first presscheck, while still in college, I was shown samples of Stefan’s work and fell in love. 6 years later, those samples still remain in my inspiration library. His quirky nature would surely create for an interesting and insightful batch of questions for Jessica.

  11. 12
    Shane said:

    These are great, cant wait to read more of them!

  12. 12
    Jesse Colby said:

    Nice little chat. Both delightful people. I really enjoyed Bucher’s presentation at AIGA’s Make/Think 2 years ago. Inspirational designers both.

  13. 12
    Neenah Paper said:

    Sending out copies of Stefan’s book to Jesse Colby, Jennifer, and Will Cameron! Look for e-mails in your inbox requesting a shipping address. Thanks for commenting on the Neenah Paper blog. Hope you subscribe and visit often!