What is your name, age, and location?
Jessica Hische, 26, Brooklyn NY.
What is your profession?
Typographer and illustrator.
What did you study in school and what degrees do you have?
I studied graphic design at Tyler School of Art (part of Temple University) in Philadelphia. I have a BFA in Graphic and Interactive Design.
What was your first job?
First job ever was at age 14 making sandwiches at a deli, first job in my profession was at Headcase Design in Philadelphia. I worked there for 6 months as full time freelance and then part time freelance before moving to New York to work for Louise Fili Ltd (my first salaried job).
Who or what inspired you to break into your current line of work?
I always knew I wanted to do something art-related, but it wasn’t until college that I knew what graphic design was. I really loved that it was about problem solving and not self expression. I really liked this aspect of design and it’s pretty much what drew me to it. I found myself procrastinating from all of my painting and sculpture work to do my design projects and I think this is really what made me realize that design is what I wanted to do.
Name/describe one incident when being a woman has helped your career?
I think being a woman can make you initially more approachable as a designer and illustrator. In the publishing and editorial fields, there are a lot of female art directors and editors and I feel like there is a bit of an unspoken camaraderie between everyone. Approachability is something that I find has more pros than cons, though it’s something that a lot of female designers struggle with. By being approachable, smaller clients might be more likely to email you, but you also might not land the giant giant jobs that more corporate seeming firm might get (an example being a multi-million dollar branding bid). I find that even though it is just me and that I am a very friendly and outgoing person online and in person, I still manage to get some pretty big advertising jobs (nothing above five digits yet, but here’s hoping!). I also find that because there aren’t a lot of outspoken women in the design field, it’s easier to stand out. Design seems like a more man-driven industry because there are more men waving their work around in your face but really there are as many if not more female designers, just most of them are still struggling with which face they want to show the world, the quiet professional or the crazy internet oversharer.
Name/describe one incident when being a woman has hindered your career?
This is a tough question to answer since I personally feel that I haven’t hit that many roadblocks in my career path. I think something I struggled a lot with at first was doing more decorative work. It’s widely believed that women are decorators in the design field and are far out-numbered by men in the high-concept side of the industry. It’s of course a person’s choice on what kind of work they want to pursue but at first I felt like I was doing a disservice to women by doing so much decorative work (the work that I ultimately have the most fun doing). It took a while to accept that the work that I do has as much value in the industry as high-concept work.
Who is your role model or mentor (alive or dead)?
Louise Fili and my Mom are both wonderful mentors. My Mom’s struggles with her career and finding happiness in work have been very motivating for me in my career and have allowed me to just appreciate that I’m lucky enough to like my job. Louise was a great inspiration to me and really helped to develop my skills as a designer and I’ll be forever in her debt for that.
If you could give one piece of advice to a woman starting out in your field, what would it be?
Don’t make very rigid plans for your career. It’s good to have a plan, just don’t ignore all the happy accidents. Sometimes little opportunities happen along the way that make a big difference in your happiness and put you ultimately where you should be in your career.
– Interview by Elena Rossini
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