Lettering Artistry with Jessica Hische


– So, lettering is a
really weird profession. I get paid to draw words and letters and phrases all day. There’s calligraphers who write letters. There’s letterers who draw letters, and then there’s type
designers who draw letters but as a part of a system that
all kind of works together, and that’s where you get your fonts from. So, lettering’s kind of like… I’m not the engineer or architect
that builds the skyscraper that can then be replicated in Hong Kong, which would be the type designer. I’m more like your weird
uncle who builds you like a really special dollhouse and, then, will never do it again. I’m Jessica Hische and
I’m a lettering artist and author living in San Francisco. (light eraser) (light rhythmic music) Well, what happened for
Moonrise Kingdom was that I drew everyone’s name
in the beginning of the film, and then I made typeface
to use for the end credits. It’s very rare that I get
to collaborate, directly, with another artist on
a project, like that. It was really awesome and special to feel like it was this
very artistic collaboration and didn’t feel like a
cut-and-dry client project. (upbeat percussion music) I got started in lettering… Well, if I had to roll
it all the way back, it would probably be me drawing all of the popular kid’s names
on their Trapper Keeper. I went to art school to just
study drawing and painting, and when I was in college,
I discovered graphic design which I was completely obsessed with. Being able to solve problems
and work on the behalf of clients just totally blew open my world in terms of being able to have an excuse to create every day. So, when I’m brainstorming, what I first do is I do research. When it comes to doing
anything for a book, it means reading the book. When I’m doing editorial illustration, it means reading the article. I good place to start
is by redoing the design of something you already love. Like, maybe, there’s some fantasy book that you grew up loving, but you always hated the cover. (upbeat instrumental music) I get much more out of
making these, sort of, like verbal brainstorming lists. When it comes to harmony, the first words that came to mind were smooth, grace, musical, nature, natural, flowing. But the thing that’s great is that because I’m not making
pretty art, at that stage, I don’t judge myself for
whatever I’m gonna write down. The only thing I worry about is that someone is gonna
discover my notebooks, later, and think I was like a total maniac. Everything that I do
starts off as a sketch, whether that sketch is
done in a sketchbook or on an iPad or on a
piece of loose-leaf paper or on a napkin at a bar. Like, it just depends
on how I feel that day, and how prepared I am with my materials. And then, once I kind of
have my layout figured out, then I’ll use a more intense pencil. So when people look
through my sketchbooks, they think, like, “Wow, you do it perfect “the first time, every time.” When really there’s like
layers and layers and layers or erased, very light sketches,
underneath of what you see, here. First, what I’ll do is
I’ll lay down my baseline, which is what the letters sit on top of, and, next, I’ll figure out
what I want my x-height to be. So, the x-height is the height
of the lower case letters. So, if I made my x-height really tall, and I wanted to fit my
words within this space, it would mean that my letters
would be really, really skinny and if I made my x-height really short and I wanted to fit the
word within this space, it would mean that my
letters would be really wide. So, I’m gonna do something
kind of in between. And, what I’ll first
do is sort of set down a very light drawing. So, I think one of the things that you should remind yourself
when you’re starting out, in lettering, is that being
naive can be really amazing because you do weird things that people with experience
do not know how to do anymore. So, don’t think about
your lack of experience as being a disadvantage, think about it as being an advantage because
you can make stranger art that can be super cool, and random, versus that has a ton of experience, they have a really hard
time breaking the rules. I’ll go in and add my thicks and thins. I know that anyplace where a pen would have made a downstroke,
instead of an upstroke, is likely where that
thickness is gonna be. I’m gonna scan my art so that I can put it on my computer. Now, I have a proper scanner, but I haven’t used it in, like, five years because of amazing apps. I have a perfect scan. The biggest advice I can
give you is don’t let the intimidation of actually
starting down the path to do anything be what stops you, because it’s hard for everybody. It’s hard for people
with all the confidence and talent in the world to start projects. I’m a big, like eraser,
dust everywhere person. Just, like, that’s it, cut! (laughs)

8 Replies to “Lettering Artistry with Jessica Hische”

  1. “The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.”
    —Jessica Hische

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