W…WWTQ? Stefan Bucher Asks Jessica Hische to Dance
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!