Ep 103

How Jessica Hische’s network led her to Wes Anderson

with Jessica Hische

About this episode

Jessica Hische is a lettering artist, freelancer and author, selling books and craft supplies in two brick and mortar stores in the US. Jessica has built an incredible personal brand by building a following on social media, writing her own children’s books and speaking at events such as OFFF and Adobe Max. Her network has helped her to land huge clients, including working on titles for director Wes Anderson.
In this episode, Jessica shares her networking secrets to land big clients – including the benefits that smaller clients can offer. She also discusses how to make the most of pitching to clients, how newsletters may be the future of communicating to clients and how to avoid social media burnout.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
  • How Jessica worked with Wes Anderson
  • Why networking is important as a designer
  • How to make the most of pitching to clients
  • How to avoid social media burnout
  • Behind the scenes of Jessica’s brick and mortar stores
  • How to land big clients



[00:00:00] Jessica: The worst case scenario is you’re doing pitches and you’re never allowed to talk about it. That sucks. And I’m not saying Wes Anderson was like this. He paid me fine. Wasn’t like cuckoo bananas, but it was, it was totally decent. The root of this question kind of goes into the like, should I be a generalist or should I be a specialist?

Question that a lot of us ask ourselves in our career. LinkedIn thing because I’m shadow banned from LinkedIn.

[00:00:23] Hayley: That’s Jessica Hiss. She’s done some amazing jobs throughout her career. I. like designing titles for Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, but not only that, she’s an incredible lettering artist, and she even has her own physical stores.

In this episode, you’re gonna learn how Jessica got the opportunity to work with Wes Anderson.

[00:00:42] Jessica: With Moonrise Kingdom, they had been doing this whole exploration with another calligrapher, but Wes has like, as you could imagine, extremely specific ideas about what he wants to do. Things to be and look like.

[00:00:54] Hayley: How to grow your creative business online without getting burned out by social media.

[00:00:59] Jessica: That’s half of the battle is just reminding people that you exist in the world. You don’t need to be sharing amazing work all the time. You just have to be like, I’m a person and I’m here.

[00:01:06] Hayley: Why it’s important to build strategic partnerships with other creatives.

[00:01:11] Jessica: You do tend to get more work from outside of your peer network than you do from inside of it,

[00:01:15] Hayley: and how to pitch your work with clients. and still get paid.

[00:01:19] Jessica: There’s a difference between a free pitch and a very, very low paid pitch because I think free pitches are so predatory.

[00:01:27] Hayley: So you’ve worked with some pretty massive clients over your career.

I just wanted to kick off by asking you like how you’ve built some of those relationships and how did you end up being connected with Wes Anderson?

[00:01:40] Jessica: Well, I feel like, um, the root of this question kind of goes into the, like, should I be a generalist or should I be a specialist, like, question that a lot of us ask ourselves in our career.

If you’re a generalist, there’s generally, like, more opportunities for you to do because you can kind of hop in and out of projects, but then you might not necessarily be top of mind for more specialists. And so when I started doing what I do, which is primarily commercial lettering work, um, there just were not that many people doing it, you know, it was kind of me and a handful of my friends were the modern lettering revivalists.

And so when anybody outside of our industry, um, was thinking like, who’s someone I know that draws letters, you know, there was really only a handful of names, uh, to list. And so. When Wes Anderson’s team approached me, they had been working with another calligrapher on the titles for Moonrise Kingdom. And, like, title, title design always kind of happens, like, as the very last thing in the film.

It feels like such an afterthought. And it’s, which is interesting because, I mean, a lot of your audience here, like, works in motion and animation. And I’m sure you guys, like, would love to work for, like, big VFX teams and all this kind of stuff. So, um, So, my title design budget comes from your VFX budget, and of course, like, all the things that you guys do is more important than the title, so, it’s sort of like, it ends up being the, like, oh shoot, I guess we need some titles, but with Moonrise Kingdom, they had been doing this whole exploration with another calligrapher, but Wes has, like, As you could imagine, extremely specific ideas about what he wants things to be and look like.

And one thing about working with calligraphers versus a lettering artist is calligraphers, like, if you don’t know the difference, um, calligraphy is like a writing practice. versus lettering is a drawing practice. So calligraphy is very informed by the tools that you’re using. And so calligraphers work with specific brushes and pens and, uh, you know, different writing implements.

And then they have a hard time breaking the rules of what those writing implements do. And so lettering artists are totally different where we work with the The forms of the letters, but know that we can bend them in different directions and sometimes, you know, adhere to what the tool would do and sometimes not, um, because it’s ultimately like a drawing, a custom drawing instead of it being a piece of writing.

And so I think this is my, what I’ve surmised from that situation and from his art direction to me is that. It probably was difficult for the calligrapher to bend and stretch to the different kinds of direction that Wes was giving for the titles. So when they brought me on, they were already in post production, you know, like things were ramping up for putting out trailers and things like that.

And so it was sort of like a time crunch to do it, um, you know, to at least get the initial tests done, to just put in the trailers. And so I first got hired by, um, one of the co producers, Molly Cooper, and she hired me to do a few tests. And then ultimately once those tests got approved, or at least they felt like, you know, I’d be able to take it in the direction that they wanted to, then they properly hired me full time.

And then after that, it was just me exchanging emails with Wes Anderson, which was, you know, a very interesting, you Way to work. Uh, but I got recommended for that job because someone, they were like, Oh, who do we know that does letter form work? And someone on their art team recommended me. And so that’s one of the bonuses of doing a thing that is a little bit niche.

And you can find niches like within every single field of being like the person who is really excellent at animating bubbles or like whatever. And then, so you get all the bubbles jobs. And so that can sort of. Be a bad thing if you feel like you’re getting pigeonholed, but it can also mean that that more specific work when it does come up, like you’re just top of mind, you’re like the first name that people go to and that can be really useful.

[00:05:43] Hayley: Yeah, for sure. I’ve heard, I’ve heard you talk about before, um, how important it is to network with people. like outside of your industry. So not just, so imagine like we’ve got, you know, illustration, graphic design, motion design, we have all those things. So like the illustrators should be networking with the motion designers and the graphic designers should be networking with the UX people, or I don’t know.

I’ve heard you talk about before. Do you think that’s kind of. What’s helped you?

[00:06:11] Jessica: Yeah, definitely. I think it really helped. And part of it was I was able to network with people outside of my industry, not because I was just like passing out business cards at, you know, web design conferences or whatever, but because I was genuinely interested in all these other adjacent industries, but just personally didn’t want to do that professionally.

So like. I got really in deep in the world of like front end web development because I did all of my own front end web development, but didn’t want to actually like be like a developer or, you know, web designer. And so I, they sort of loved me because I understood what they were doing, but I wasn’t trying to step on anybody’s toes.

And so it was really easy to integrate into that world. And I feel sort of similarly about things like motion. It’s like every now and then I try my. Hand at doing 3D stuff and like messing around. And I’m just like, you know what? This isn’t for me. I am happy to know the people that do this and not have this be another yet another thing that I do.

But I do feel like and you see it so much more clearly when you start just meeting people in your local community where you know, like you might be the only motion person that the Everyone at your kid’s school knows, you know, and like someone at that school works for some company and is going to recommend you for some job.

It’s like shocking, you know, especially if you live in an area where there’s like active industries and things like that. And so, you know, if you’re in a smaller town and there’s not as many like Big old jobs sitting around like you might just be like the person that is doing the menus at all the local cafes or whatever, or the person who is updating the preschool’s logo and like, which is also fine.

But yeah, I mean, I do feel that just not boxing yourself in to just your immediate community is really helpful because, you know, it’s great to know peers and it’s great to be able to sort of bounce ideas off of peers and learn techniques from peers. But ultimately, Those folks are usually not passing around work back and forth to each other unless everybody’s really busy at the same time.

And so you do tend to get more work from outside of your peer network than you do from inside of it.

[00:08:21] Hayley: Yeah, I think I agree. I think it’s just been really tough, especially this like past year for a lot of people. So I think it’s, it’s just interesting to talk about this because it’s something that people don’t think about a lot that, you know, or we can collaborate with the people outside of industry.

But how do you make it, I guess, easier to Quote unquote network with these people and not make it like icky like you were saying like, Oh, we’ll just, you know, go to these events and like pass out my business card and stuff like that. Like how, how do you think about building relationships with people over the long term?

[00:08:53] Jessica: Well, it’s also, it’s really different doing it online versus doing it in person because when you’re at events and stuff, it’s pretty, or like just, you know, out and about at local community stuff. It’s easier to be like, Oh, I do this. What do you do? You know, for online stuff, specifically for motion and 3d folks or like sound engineers and things like that, there are lots of people within lettering, branding, illustration, like all that kind of stuff that need you so much because clients will come to us and be like, Hey, we want to make like Like 30 animated gifs of all these little characters that we love that you make, but then that person themselves doesn’t do animation.

And so if you just reach out to people whose work that you like and say like, Hey, like if you ever get pinged by a client and need to animate something, I’d love to be able to be on board for that because that’s also like a big pipeline for work is when someone gets approached for a project and they don’t have the specific skill set needed for the project.

Yeah. so much. But they know people within their network that do it sort of makes that individual in this sort of like ad hoc agency where they’re like managing you as the creative of doing a specific part of the project and the client’s super happy because they are able to sort of not have to hire a huge agency to do everything, you know, they can do it a little bit more.

Small scale, which is more budget friendly for them, but it also is just like nice to be able to be in other people’s pockets of just like, yeah, if you need me, I’m here, you know, that kind of thing. And one thing to think about too, is that like, I know this is a little tougher with like, um, animation because animation is so So laborious, or it can be, but try to figure out ways to work at a smaller scale so that not everything has to be like a $20,000 project, just because I do find that there’s a lot of like smaller work to be done.

You know, a lot of times it’s just like. Make a thing flicker in an image or like whatever, like even just showing little stuff like that as something that is a way to really easily engage with you. It makes it a little bit less intimidating. Like people don’t think that they have to hire you for like a two minute commercial every time that they hire you.

[00:11:01] Hayley: Yeah, I think. As well, like, going on to sort of social media a bit more, when people ask me like, oh, okay, well, you know, I have to put out my work on social media and stuff like that, and I want to do a personal project. So I’m like, don’t make it like a two minute animated film, you’ll never ever get that done.

You should just make a five second piece or even like a little series of five second pieces that you can put together at the end. I always think that’s like a really nice idea. And then it also plays into what you’re saying where, you know, everyone doesn’t think that. Okay, we need to do this like huge thing if we, you know, work with animation and stuff like that.

[00:11:35] Jessica: Yeah. It’s sort of like if you, if you’re thinking about hiring an architect, right? Like, like if you’re redoing your bathroom or something like that, you’re like, Oh my God, wouldn’t it be great to hire an architect? And architects are like, I only do like huge house projects or whatever. So you’re on your own.

And then, but. It’s nice as a person that can scale to a bigger project to have ways to do much smaller, like more economical projects, because those can end up really filling in the gaps of your workload. And a lot of times when the big projects go away or when you’re pitching and that thing doesn’t go through, like if you’re just waiting to win the lottery on like all those big projects over and over again, like.

You’re not going to get work consistently. Also, the big thing to note is that, and this is sort of circling back to the bigger client work question. When you work on projects for bigger clients, they tend to have like a really specific rollout schedule that a lot of times is a lot later than the schedule of like when you actually perform the work.

So if you’re working on something like I’m working on a potential logo pitch right now for a logo that will come out in 2026. Yes. And so like, if I, and that I might get it, that would be great. It’s like a big project. But if I was just waiting for those sorts of things, I would literally never have anything to share online.

And if I don’t have anything to share online, it’s really difficult to get new work. And so a lot of times those. smaller projects that are just the quickie things that you do in an afternoon. Those are the things that you can output consistently that then sets you up to get those bigger projects that you don’t have to be in like immediate share mode for.

[00:13:11] Hayley: Yeah. I wanted to ask you as well, cause you mentioned social media about like how you’re thinking about social media now and. And how you kind of put stuff out there compared to, you know, when you first started out. I think it, it was very different, you know, when I first started following you. And now I feel like it’s just so difficult.

So how are you, how are you thinking about social media and what do you feel like is working at the moment? That’s a tough question. I

[00:13:37] Jessica: feel like not a lot is working. No, I, it’s uh, It’s, it’s tricky because I’m between these polarizing thoughts, right? One is I’m very, very vehement about not letting external forces guide my creative.

Desires and process, right? Because I’ve just found that personally, the times where I’m like the most lost creatively are times where I let the world around me tell me what I’m supposed to be doing instead of just like listening to like, what do I feel like working on what’s really driving me at the time, which is always like a response to what you’re seeing also.

Cause you can get like kicked up about something and get excited about something that you see in the world, but you’re not doing it to like fill a gap that you see. The internet is asking you for that’s part of me. And that part of me is very bad at social media right now, because it’s just like, Instagram does not want to see my static image posts of my work.

You know, like they, they want to see motion and reels and my face and, you know, like what anybody using, especially Instagram will notice that the sort of like first person camera face stuff, just. Gets so much more engagement, um, anything that moves gets so much more engagement, which is like good for your audience here, less good for me, static image gal.

And, um, it’s also tough because I feel like I’ve been on the internet since I was, you know, in third or fourth grade, you know, like I’m turning 40 this year, but I was like a very early social media and online network person. Like I used to spend all my time in MIRC when I was like a teen, like trying to be cool and have chats with people.

And to me, the thing that has made the internet pleasurable is being able to be myself online and connect with people in like a real way. And there is this sort of thing where to promote yourself effectively through visual platforms like Instagram, we can’t always be our real sloppy selves. Because people just are less and less used to seeing it, right?

So it’s like, I get friends and colleagues and stuff that ask me, they’re like, Oh my God, you should do reels of you working because it would be like, so people would love it, blah, blah, blah. And I’m like, I don’t know if they would though. Because everyone is so used to seeing hyper produced, extremely specific, content creator kind of folks that it’s their whole existence is to create work that is good on camera in that way.

Whereas my sketching and iteration process is kind of sloppy. You know, like I definitely go through a lot of, uh, rounds and it’s not this like pristine, perfect snap and it’s done kind of thing. And I could cut it to be that, but it would feel disingenuous. And so it’s like, I sort of know what. presenting myself in that way, it might actually not be beneficial to me.

So I’m sort of between these two, these worlds of like, do I kind of start having to do that kind of stuff or even like hire someone to help me with it, which seems like a fucking nightmare. I don’t want to do that. And so, uh, but do I do that, which is, smart or do I, uh, keep doing what I’m doing and just assume that people will get tired of Reels eventually.

So, uh, but then there’s platforms like Threads and formerly Twitter, which I’m not on anymore because it was too upsetting to be there. But, uh, That was a place where I felt like because my network online was full of a lot of sort of leader y kind of people, like people in high positions at tech companies and creatives at high levels, I felt like even just talking about nothing on those platforms would always somehow turn into work because it was just reminding people you’re alive.

You know, like that’s half of the battle is just reminding people that you exist in the world. You don’t need to be sharing amazing work all the time. You just have to be like, I’m a person and I’m here. And I’m, you know, the end. That’s all that, that’s all that really needs to get shared. And so I share about very different things on, uh, other platforms and Instagram,

[00:17:44] Hayley: but yeah.

Yeah. If, are you on LinkedIn? Cause I feel like we’re always talking about LinkedIn and then like, I’m like, is Jessica on LinkedIn? Like I know that you had any thoughts about that. I have, I,

[00:17:56] Jessica: I have a funny, I have a funny LinkedIn thing cause I’m shadow banned from Really? Yeah. Yeah. So many years ago I was on LinkedIn for like, Six months.

I was on, I was on LinkedIn for like six months and maybe like 2009, like something like that. So a long time ago, uh, before it was a social network when it was just a resume site. And, um, I was on it, but I was getting just like bamboozled in my inbox constantly of so and so wants to connect with you. So and so wants to connect with you.

And it was literally, I was getting like, 30 to 50 emails a day of these random people trying or more of random people trying to connect with me that I didn’t know on LinkedIn. And so I tried to disable it. I tried to make it so that I couldn’t do that. And I, and I couldn’t. And so I deleted my account.

And so, uh, I was like, you know what? I don’t need to be on LinkedIn. This is fine. Everything’s great. And so I deleted my account. And so, uh, But then after I deleted my account, the emails kept coming like it would be like so and so wants to connect with you on LinkedIn over and over and over again. But my account was like fully deleted and not there.

And so I couldn’t figure out how to turn off the note like people being able to try to contact me on LinkedIn. Because the only way to do it was to re sign up for another LinkedIn account, you know, to then try to disable it. And so I Yeah, it was crazy. And so I ended up writing them this really mad email to be like, This is abuse.

Like, I’m gonna report you. Like, I’ve deleted my account and I shouldn’t be receiving these notifications. Like, it was a total fucking, like, Karen Boomer email, you know, and I was like probably 25 years old. And so I wrote this really like intense email. I’m just like, I never want to hear from LinkedIn again.

And they were like, well, there’s only one way for us to do that, which is to add all of your email addresses to our like, do not call list. And then you will never be able to sign up with them on LinkedIn again. And so I was just like, do it. I’m never coming back. So now if I want to make a LinkedIn page, I have to create a new email address because I gave them like three or four of my email addresses because I was like, never again, like in 2009.

And so that’s why I’m not on LinkedIn because every time I’m like, maybe you should sign up for LinkedIn. Then I remember that and then I don’t feel like paying Google 5 a month to have a LinkedIn specific email address. That was not like the

[00:20:18] Hayley: story that I was

[00:20:18] Jessica: expecting. But I know people that get, I know people that get a lot of work.

It’s, it’s, no, it’s a crazy story. But I, uh, yeah, but I know, should you be on LinkedIn? Answer, probably yes. I mean, should I be on LinkedIn? Answer, probably yes. Um, I feel like everyone that I know that is active on LinkedIn actually gets quite a bit of work from LinkedIn that’s fairly high quality, which is great.

I also feel like LinkedIn, um, LinkedIn is a place. So like there’s online portfolio sites, right? Like Behance and Fiverr and all this kind of stuff. where I feel like, when you’re on there, The people hiring you are less, like, about you and more about the platform, where they’re like, Oh, I hired this animator from Fiverr, and they don’t remember your name.

And that doesn’t help you in the future when they’re, like, telling the story of working with you. And I feel like this kind of happens on a lot of these sort of platforms where you get swallowed up by the branding of the platform itself. Like, I challenge you all to think in your mind, like, can you name the seller of the last thing you bought off Etsy?

Or do you just think I bought it on Etsy, you know? And so I feel like a lot of that happens with like portfolio sites where it’s just like, Oh, I found this cool person on Behance or whatever to do my thing. And it like, it absorbs your brand and personality into the platform. Um, LinkedIn, I don’t think does that.

Cause nobody’s like, Oh, I just hired this person off LinkedIn. It’s very like, I feel like you still are very much about the individual.

[00:21:47] Hayley: I think it’s just really hard. Now, because from my point of view, like LinkedIn is the only one that’s really given anyone any organic reach at the moment, you know, so like, without like paying for stuff and things like that, or like you’re saying, like trying to fit into this real box for Instagram, like all the content has to be reels and it has to be you talking about your work or whatever, whereas I feel like.

LinkedIn, but I feel like maybe it’s kind of coming to the end anyway. So I know that you just kind of restarted your newsletter a little bit. Uh, is that kind of on purpose because you feel like all this social media stuff is sort of, you know, getting a bit like crazy?

[00:22:27] Jessica: Oh yeah, for sure. I, you know, Well, to give you an example, um, I write and illustrate children’s books as part of my work.

And so my first two kids books were pre algorithmic shift on Instagram, right? And it was quite easy to like, reach my audience. My pre order numbers were like, really high, all things considered. So like for the first book, I think I had 2, 500 pre orders for the second book. It was like 2, 700. And so my publisher, like all publishers and all people that you work with, like really relies on the artists themselves to do basically like all of the promotional work.

That’s very common. It’s not like they’re bad. It’s just that’s the, that’s the common practice. But then when my third book came out, they had started to really to mess with. It was starting to be the TikTokification of Instagram. And so I made at least like eight posts about my book, maybe like 10 posts about my book over the course of the pre order period.

But it just like really struggled to get like any pre orders. And it was because those posts just weren’t getting very much visibility. You know, like my, my logo posts that I would do would get spread around, but like anything that was kids book related, didn’t seem to get any traction. And it was so wild, like the difference that I think I had something like 300 pre orders and then my first week of sales were like 700.

Books or something like that, which is significantly less. And then I would get people still like this book came out a year and a half ago, something like that, where, um, you know, people were like, Oh, I didn’t know you have another book, even though I’ve talked about it consistently. And seeing That some of the things that I talk about online on Instagram just seem to fall into a black hole and don’t get seen by any eyeballs made me be like, I need to focus on other ways of reaching people and not rely so heavily on just this one thing.

And so I think that’s sort of what we all like need to relearn is that Instagram taught us that they’re the most powerful place to have people discover your work. I think it’s one of the most powerful places to have. Content that you create be discovered, but is it the most powerful place for people to discover more typical portfolio projects and not necessarily like the kind of things that people love to consume in the discover feed, you know, and so focusing on my newsletter, which has I know is going to reach people, even though, which is weird because I hate email.

Like I just feel overloaded by email all the time, but my newsletter has like a 70 percent open rate, which is amazing. You know, like considering the size of the audience. So I’m just like, I, there’s literally, I could make a topless video of myself drawing letters on Instagram and I don’t think I would hit.

70 percent audience engagement there, you know, like, so I, because of that, I’m just like, I know I still have to be on Instagram, but also like the newsletter is like, you know, a pretty, you know, good way to actually make sure that people see my stuff.

[00:25:29] Hayley: Yeah, it makes sense. Like, at Motion Hatch we have a newsletter and I use email all the time, but I don’t hear designers using it that much.

So, how are you thinking about, like, the content in there? Like, what kind of things, like, is it similar to what you would put on Instagram? Just, like,

[00:25:45] Jessica: It’s a, it’s kind of a little bit of a mix, you know, I don’t use my newsletter very often. If anybody’s interested in my newsletter, I am the least spammy newsletter you will ever sign up for because I am lazy and I never have time to work on it.

So I promise you, you will receive like four emails a year. It’s not, it’s not anything crazy. I’m, I’m very self conscious about looking like I’m selling to people all the time, like, I don’t, I don’t want to follow people that are just using me for, to buy things from them, and so I don’t want to be that person either to other people, so my newsletters have a very Your friend is writing you a life catch up email tone, where it’s sort of like, here’s what’s going on in my world, you know, and then, you know, I’ll point to some stuff on my online Oh, new prints on the online shop.

And oh, and then the kids and I did this trip to Tahoe or whatever. And so like, it’s kind of like a mix of life stuff and work stuff. And then, I’ve been sharing a lot about the retail stores that I opened and the sort of numbers behind that too, um, because it’s something that so few people do and people are like really intrigued by like, what does it mean to open a physical brick and mortar store?

Like, what does that cost? Like, what do you, what kind of money do you make? How do you get people there? Like all that kind of stuff. So yeah, it is kind of a mix. It’s kind of like, I get to do longer form posts where I tell a bit more of the story behind projects instead of just like the, this was for this client.

It was really fun. Check it out the end, you know, which tends to be more of like the posting projects to Instagram vibe.

[00:27:20] Hayley: Yeah. I think it, I just think it’s hard. Like if you’re starting out, do you think it’s worth someone trying to do Build an audience on a newsletter because obviously you have an existing audience, which I assume you’ve kind of pointed to your newsletter, you know, over time, but as a, like a motion designer who, you know, doesn’t have a big audience or is thinking like, is it worth doing a newsletter?

Like, could that potentially get me clients? Like, what are your thoughts around that?

[00:27:46] Jessica: Well, you know, sharing tips on the things that you do, like tips and tricks. Is a massive way of building an audience. And it also is fun because you’re like, Oh, I learned a new thing. Do you want to learn the new thing I just learned?

It’s great. You know, like, I feel like most of my audience has come to me over time because I’m a big tips and tricks sharer. But not in like a necessarily like typical, like design guru y kind of vibe, you know, where it’s more like a friend passing along helpful information and less of a like, buy my online course for 400, you know, like, I don’t really like to have that vibe.

Um, so, I mean, I would say one of the, one of the best ways to start a newsletter is if there’s something that you’re interested in doing or learning and you want to let people in on the process of you learning that new thing, like that can be like amazing newsletter content. Cause you’re like, Oh, I want to learn how to like use this new software.

Or I want to learn how to like make hair move in whatever you want to do. Uh, And just sort of walking through the steps that you take to be able to learn a new thing is really fun for people to see. And you’re like, follow me on my journey of learning this new thing. And that can be a way to sort of get the audience on board.

And then in between those things, you can share about other projects that you’re doing and share about things that are going on in your creative career or things that you saw online and liked. You know, like people just love a good, positive vibes email. It’s sort of like we, we don’t get like good, snail mail anymore.

Like snail mail is all like junk or bills. And so like, you’re like delighted when you get something that’s not junk or bills.

[00:29:30] Hayley: Yeah. And I like that you were saying like, here’s what I’m learning. Like, be a bit more specific, like about the value that you’re giving other people. Right. Don’t just like say, this is Haley’s newsletter.

This is Jessica’s newsletter. Like, okay. You know, why tell, you need to tell me why to sign up, you know.

[00:29:47] Jessica: Yeah, the more specific the reason for the newsletter, the easier it is to get people to sign up. Anytime that you can be like a good information distiller and curator of stuff that’s out there, that’s definitely like always a big appeal to get people on board to following you online in any capacity, but then also for newsletters and things like that.

[00:30:05] Hayley: Yeah, definitely. I definitely agree with that. You talked about your shop. I wanted to touch on that briefly. Is that like making a kind of shop, is that to do with you wanting to be. Like more in person, like kind of talking to people and stuff like that. Like, what was the reason to like make a physical shop?

[00:30:23] Jessica: It’s a, there’s a few things. And so I definitely feel like having people have a real connection to your work, like an actual, like. I know this person. I feel like I’m in a relationship with this person. Makes them actually want to support you in all sorts of ways. It makes them want to share your stuff.

It makes them want to buy your stuff. It makes them want to recommend you for things, all kinds of things. Like we feel the most comfortable talking about, sharing, recommending things that we have done. personally experienced or have a personal connection to, right? And there’s very, like, now I feel like it’s, it’s become harder and harder online to feel like you’re having, forming these like personal relationships with people because there’s so much more noise.

There’s not really like a platform that all the creatives hang out on that is like, specifically just about like making friends, you know, it’s like Instagram is about sharing your work. It’s not about making friends if only, you know, if only. And so figuring out how to have people have a more, a better connection to your work is great.

Like whether you could do that online or in person. And for me, it’s like when I first started, Doing an online shop and selling prints and cards and all kinds of stuff. There just weren’t as many people doing it. There were a handful of artists like creating letterpress prints and things like that, but then it just sort of exploded and now like so many people do it and a lot of people do a more like.

print on demand thing, or they have other folks like distribute their work and it starts to devalue the work and make the work feel less special, you know, when it just feels like it’s a machine is making it and not an individual artist. And so the physical store. was a way for people to sort of understand that there is like an actual human artist making these things.

And I print them all here at my studio, you know, like I’m actually doing the work myself. Um, so when people come to the shop, it’s like, there’s a big picture window where they can see into my print shop and be like, that’s where it was printed right there, you know? And people really dig that. And everybody like loves supporting artists.

You know, like people like to support other creative folks and they want a reason to. I feel like the physical stores are totally a reaction to feeling like I want to actually be connected to people and that I want to be connected to people on like, in a local way and not just necessarily like a on the internet.

In a national or international way, you know, I just wasn’t a really local gal. I was in New York because New York was like my identity. But when I moved to the Bay area and I’ve been here for 12 years, I just didn’t really invest in the, you know, local connections as much as I had in those first few years in New York.

And so wanting to. be more of a local gal.

[00:33:12] Hayley: Yeah, I think it’s really nice. You know, I live in your career, you’ve kind of done loads of different things and you’ve tried loads of different things. Do you think that’s partly why you’ve been so successful? Because you’re like, it seems like you’re genuinely curious and you’re trying to like, Oh, what about if I do this?

What about if I do this kind of thing?

[00:33:31] Jessica: Yeah, I feel like the thing that has worked for me is that all the things that I do have like overlap or connection to other things that I do, right? So, Me making a physical store has a connection to me wanting to make prints, to me selling things online, to me getting more visibility as my, uh, as a person who creates artwork.

You know, it is that sort of like, you know, being known as the letter person in Oakland or in the, in the Bay Area. And then all of a sudden, like, I know that that can translate into other commercial work. So it’s like, even just like being a physical presence is going to have ripple effects into my other kinds of work because the store, while it like makes a little bit of money, it’s not like a income replacer, you know, I’m just happy.

It’s not like in the red. Um, but I know that it has, it has. Spiritual benefits for me, but it also has benefits for other parts of the things that I do. And I think that all the things that I have done and learned, I generally tend to learn them because they would help me out in another thing that I’m doing.

You know, like I learned web development. And, uh, web design because I had all these ideas for all these, like, for fun projects I wanted to do, but none of them were like money making ideas or like actual businesses. And I was like, well, if I want to do this, I have to learn how to do the thing myself because I can’t pay someone to do it.

So I’ll just learn it. And then I would learn what I would feel like learning and what felt useful to me. And then I’d be like, all right, that was enough. And then just kind of like push it to the side for a while. And And it’s like collecting, collecting these skills that I can then kind of like turn on and off as I need them.

So when I was redoing my online store, I got to like access my CSS web development brain and like do it all myself instead of having to pay a web developer to do it. And I’m sure there’s going to be other things that I learned because I’m just like, man, I wish I was better at product photography. I guess I’m going to take a lighting class or whatever, you know, uh, because.

While I love collaborating with other artists on different kinds of things, like there’s things that you work on where you just don’t have the budget to like pay someone else. And you don’t want to use all your friend favors on something that is just like a for fun thing for you. Friend favors are great.

I tend to save them for like the important stuff, but not for me having a harebrained idea on a Friday afternoon, you know?

[00:35:50] Hayley: Yeah, it’s really cool. It’s very inspiring. I’d love to know, like, if there’s, you know, people listening and they’re thinking like, well, I want to do more creative work and I want to work with big clients like Jessica and stuff like that.

What would you kind of tell them? What’s your advice for them?

[00:36:06] Jessica: Well, I think one thing to think about when you’re saying I want to work with big clients, I think always have it in your mind that the cooler a project sounds, the less it pays. And so, like, really you should have it in your mind of, I want to work for just extremely lame, dorky clients.

Because then you can actually, like, buy a house and stuff. You know? Like, I, I mean, I love working for cool clients. It’s, like, really fun. But, you know, there are projects that I’ve taken on that are, like, super lame. Super prominent where like they were like, Oh, we only have 500 for this, for our budget. And I’m like, okay, I guess so.

Because I just know that it’s like a, like a neat thing. And you know, they’re not trying to gyp me. They just didn’t allocate the money for the thing. So I don’t get like mad about it. Cause I know what I’m stepping into when I say yes. And I only say yes to those sorts of things when I know they are going to actually like be highly visible and But yeah, in terms of like, like working with big people, just like You know, also work with very uncool clients.

Those clients are very good at paying you on time, uh, and decent budgets. It’s great. I would say, and that’s the thing, that’s actually one of the key things is that in order to have the privilege. To work for cool clients and those sorts of projects, you have to actually build up the resources and ability to take a chance on something like that because like, you know, the cool folks, and I’m not saying Wes Anderson was like this, he paid me fine, you know, like, It, you know, wasn’t like cuckoo bananas, but it was, it was totally decent, but there’s going to be like projects that come along where you’re asked to create like a test for the project and they pay like nothing.

And if you don’t have other work or some sort of bank account saved up to be able to take risks like that, you’re never going to get those sorts of projects, you know, cause they really do like, you know, I get. When I get hired to do like tests and stuff for TV titles and all that kind of jazz, they’ll be like, we have a budget of 700 and we need 10 sketches and I’m just like, okay, so I’m making 700 in three days, you know, which is like, I could make that much money like working as a bartender.

I can make more money working as a bartender for that. So, uh, you know, yeah. So don’t like save all your stuff up for those kind of projects because like don’t put stuff not on your calendar because you’re waiting for those because those things are so few and far between and if you get them they can pay okay, but they’re not like it’s not crazy.

It’s all the stuff that is like the, you know, lamest. Projects that actually end up paying really well and are super pleasant and the teams are so grateful. It’s like wonderful I love working on super dorky stuff. It’s the best all the teams are always so much more fun and nice. It’s great

[00:38:45] Hayley: Yeah, yeah, totally that totally makes sense and like I like what you’re saying about You know, because I think there’s this whole thing about like, don’t do like tests and everything has to be paid and blah, blah, blah.

Like, and I think that’s really valid, but like, you know, you have to be just saving that for the best clients that you really want to work with. And I think like, you know, this idea of kind of doing free pitches all the time is bad and we shouldn’t do that. But I think like you’re saying,

[00:39:13] Jessica: no,

[00:39:14] Hayley: yeah, yeah, yeah.

There’s like a time and a place for it. And that’s for like. your dream, dream clients and you need to make sure that you’re okay, you know, by doing the paid work that maybe isn’t as fun, you know, we say like, um, in motion design, there’s like one for the real and one for the meal type thing.

[00:39:33] Jessica: Yeah. Yeah.

There’s, there’s another one. Some, some for show, some for dough. That’s the other, the other way. I love that too.

[00:39:40] Hayley: Yeah. So I think just because it can’t, it’s coming up a lot recently, I think when people are finding it harder to get hired, um, and feeling like the pressure to do free work, like not free work, but you know, like pitching and stuff like that.

But I think like, yeah, cheap work. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. My point of view on it is like, Yes, you should do that, but like save it for your dream dream clients if you want to go that far. But I think like it’s hard when people have that expectation from the client side, you know, like kind of to do free pitches and things like that.

[00:40:14] Jessica: Yeah, totally. I think too, there’s a real, there’s a difference between a free pitch and a very, very low paid pitch. Because I think free pitches are, So predatory and even though like the low paid pitch you’re not getting paid what your time is worth but they’re at least making the effort to be like You, your time has some value to it.

And I think too, like one of the things to think about with the pitch work, and this is hard to argue for, but getting on paper that you are allowed to share the work that you do in a pitch eventually, you know, like obviously you’re not going to be able to share it right away because they’re still working on the project and like hiring people or whatever, but being able to say that you worked on something related to it is super powerful.

That can be very excellent payment to be able to say like, Oh, and here are the 10 pitches that Disney hired me to do for like Coco, the movie or whatever. And then you’re able to be like, I’m a person at the level where Disney calls me to do pitches and like, yes, they didn’t use my work, but look at all the work that I made.

You know, like that’s a really powerful thing. The worst case scenario is you’re doing pitches and you’re never allowed to talk about it. Yeah. Yeah. That sucks, like that’s truly when you’re getting like taken advantage of. And you can be very, like, I tend to be very understanding with clients about the ability to share things, where I’m just like, obviously I can’t share this anytime soon.

Obviously I will run anything that I share by the day. You know, team in charge of publicity to make sure that I’m not stepping on anyone’s toes. I’m happy to share the final work that ended up and crediting the people that created it. You know, just really putting yourself out there and saying like, I will share this exactly as you would wish for me to share it.

in a way that doesn’t seem like I was the official person or like whatever. Um, but ultimately you would really want permission to be able to share it because that’s the thing that’s going to be the most beneficial thing about doing that kind of work.

[00:42:13] Hayley: Yeah, for sure. I think that’s a great idea. It’s something that I hadn’t thought about before, so I really appreciate you mentioning that.

So what’s next for you coming up and where can people find out more about you and your work?

[00:42:25] Jessica: Sure, sure. So, um, one thing that I have that’s coming up next is I have another kids book coming out, um, which I’m really excited about. It’s called My First Book of Fancy Letters. And it’s sort of like a new take on an alphabet book, but it’s not like a baby alphabet book.

It’s more like a let’s get excited that letters come in every shape and size. You can pre order that book now. Pre orders help authors very much. Uh, and I’m sure we will provide the link for being able to do that. So thank you in advance. If you end up pre ordering my book, that would be super duper. And then otherwise, um, you can find me in person in my stores in Oakland.

So my shop below my studio here, I’m, uh, here in downtown Oakland. And my shop below my studio is called JH& F, so Jessica Hish and Friends. And then I have a second shop that’s an all ages art supply store called Drawling, that’s so it’s drawing with an L thrown in there, like how children in Philadelphians pronounce drawing.

Both of those stores do not do online sales, because they are brick and mortar only, but I do have an online shop, Jessica Heshtot Shop, where I sell all of my prints and pins and all sorts of things that I’ve made. So all those places, and then of course on the internet. Let’s be friends.

[00:43:35] Hayley: Yeah, that’s great.

Well, thank you so much for coming on the show. I really appreciate it. Yeah, of course. This was a pleasure. Thank you so much for listening to this show. If you would like to, you can pre order Jessica’s new book that’s out right now. It’s called My First Book of Fancy Letters. We’ll leave the link in the show notes.

And it would be amazing if you could leave us a rating and review if you enjoy this podcast. If you go to motionhatch. com forward slash rate, it will give you instructions there on how you can do that wherever you listen to your podcasts. Thank you so much again for listening to this show. I appreciate you.

See ya.

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