Warm, vintage inspired, and type heavy are the three terms that best describe Jessica Hische's work. Her hand lettering can be seen on everything from holiday gift wrap for Bonds Underwear to the cover of the paperback version of Elizabeth Gilbert's latest bestselling memoir, "Committed." Her other clients include The Wall Street Journal, Kellogg's, and The New York Times.
Outside of client projects, Hische illustrates her own alphabet as part of her ongoing Daily Drop Cap project, which features a new decorative initial cap on a site where thousands of visitors flock each day. She has also designed her own successful font, Buttermilk. Her secret: equal parts design, typography, illustration, brown sugar, heavy cream, and joyful submersion in Adobe® Illustrator® CS5 software.
While she uses Adobe Photoshop® CS5 Extended software for color correction and Adobe InDesign® CS5 software for creating materials like client invoices, Hische spends most of her day in Illustrator CS5. She draws using the Pen tool and often creates two of each letter shape, blurring one to make her own subtle drop shadows. "All of my work is done in Illustrator, even adding textures and whatnot," she says. "For me, because I'm constantly layering elements on top of each other, it is easiest to work entirely in Illustrator and then export the finals as TIFF files for clients."
She's found a lot to love in the newest version of the software. "The variable-width strokes feature in Illustrator CS5 is completely changing the way I work, especially when I'm creating calligraphy-style lettering with thick and thin line weights," says Hische. "I also really like the newest enhancements to gradients and the ability to control the transparency of individual colors in gradients."
Hische works from both a studio space — which she shares with several other illustrator friends — and from her apartment in Brooklyn, where her two cats, Olive and Billy, are her "sanity keepers, blood pressure lowerers, and deadline make-betterers." She also designs to an audio-visual backdrop of TV and action movies. "I've seen 'Predator' and 'Battlestar Galactica' about a thousand times, but overall, 'Law & Order: SVU' is the best thing ever to work to," says Hische.
A little less than five years out of design school, Hische is already unstoppable with a mouse in her hand and Illustrator on her screen. "I love to draw, but I can't draw with a pen or pencil all day like other artists — I get instant carpal tunnel," says Hische. "Every day, honestly, I tell myself, 'Thank goodness for Adobe Illustrator.' It's definitely my medium of choice."