If there was ever a person who embodies the philosophy of learning (and succeeding) by doing, it’s probably Jessica Hische. The renowned graphic designer is a doer to the max. The self-employed artist got an early start working for Louise Fili Ltd., designs for clients ranging from Tiffany & Co. to Target, and recently published her first book, the aptly titled In Progress.
On January 28, Minted CEO Mariam Naficy hosted a fireside chat at Minted’s San Francisco office, asking a number of questions provided by Minted’s global community of artists. Here, we highlight some of Jessica’s insights for creative success. Watch the video of the fireside chat with Jessica here.
Minted CEO Mariam Naficy (left) hosted a fireside chat with Jessica Hische on January 28, 2016.
1. Present Life as Truth
Now that Jessica has an established career, she’s able to negotiate her terms with clients—moreso than as a rookie designer. “But it has to do more with your confidence,” she said.
Jessica explained that some creatives are compelled to enter into negotiations apologetically, instead of just putting reality on the table. “Parents need to present their lives as a truth,” she said. “Don’t think of your life as an inconvenience for your client. They have to understand the realities. Everybody has their thing, and I think we whitewash our humanness. We should be honest and say, for instance, If I get less than eight hours of sleep, I’m a wreck.”
2. Take a Break to Get Unstuck
What to do when you’re stuck in a creative rut? “Take a break, leave your office, and go for a walk,” said Jessica. She’s not the only one who gets anxious and needs to take a breather. When she’s stewing over how to take a philosophical approach to a project, she sometimes gets nervous. “I go for a walk, and all of a sudden, I’m super motivated.”
From Left: Minted Associate Merchandise Designer Olivia Goree, Merchandising Associate Leah Conroy, Jessica Hische, and Merchandising Assistant Reina Garcia
3. Realize That Striking Perfect Work-Life Balance is Nearly Impossible
When Mariam steered the conversation toward Jessica’s new experience as a parent and balancing work with life, Jessica said she’s “not balancing anything at the moment. Anyone who says otherwise is lying to themselves and to you.”
When Jessica returned to work three and a half months after having her daughter, she thought she was going to say no to things she didn’t want to do. “I had high expectations,” she said. “I thought the adjustment would make me more ruthless about time management, but being a new mom is way different than being a new dad. Pumping is a next-level issue—I couldn’t get work done being hooked up to a milking machine.”
As a busy mom, Jessica’s work day is 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. “I think we all have to be forgiving of the first year after having a baby,” she said. “It’s hard as a freelancer because you cannot delegate.”
4. Lay Down Your Own Laws With Time Management
Jessica recommends treating important things in life like you would a client deadline. “If it’s yoga once a week in order to use your shoulder, put it on your calendar,” she said. “When you’re too flexible, pushy people take over those important spots.”
What are some of Jessica’s time management tricks? For starters, she never agrees to Monday deadlines, because they imply weekend work. Also, “Admin Mondays”—the day she spends on administrative tasks, such as paperwork or press requests. “If someone asks for a file, I say, ‘I’ll send it Monday. It’s those little menial things that take over,” she said. “You have to pay attention to what your week is made up of and chunk them together.” She likens this strategy to grocery shopping, which you wouldn’t do six times a day, right?
5. Rein in the Internet
To avoid hours spent aimlessly wandering the Internet, Jessica makes lists of links to read in one go, when she has time. She receives a number of emails from colleagues suggesting things to check out, so she drafts her responses with the Internet off on her iPad and hits send when she gets into the office.
When Jessica is faced with a difficult task via email, instead of ignoring it, she responds by saying, “I’ll get back to you later” and puts it on her to-do list. When it comes to managing to-do lists, she likes to schedule digital reminders. “Evernote is good for notes, but I like to check boxes.”
The more you have to do, the more you get done is definitely the case for Jessica Hische. “I am really terrible at getting stuff done if I don’t have enough to do,” she said. “The only way I could write a novel is if I had way too much side work and then thought I should write a novel too. This is my procrastiworking ethos.”
Check out some of Jessica’s side projects here.
7. Solve Problems With Communication
In response to Minted Artist Olivia Raufman’s question, “What’s your proudest moment?”, Jessica talked about a client logo project that “went off the rails.” “It was my fault,” she said. “I’m used to working via email.” She ignored the client’s offer to walk through the brief and delivered the first round assuming she understood their needs. Unfortunately, the client had a very different expectation.
To turn the situation around, Jessica followed up with a meaty conversation and paid close attention to the verbal feedback, before submitting her second round. “One of my proudest moments was being able to steer the client back around,” she said. “They didn’t fire me and ended up taking me out to dinner.” She chalked this up to experience—as a young designer, you’re proud of a new technique, she said. As an experienced designer, you’re learning business tactics.
Event Photos by Jessi Gilbert
Published February 3, 2016 • Interested in becoming a part of the Minted community? Check out our open design challenges.
About the Author: Amy Schroeder, Minted’s Community Content Manager, founded Venus, the magazine about women in the arts and DIY culture, and has written for Etsy, West Elm, and NYLON. Connect on Instagram @thevenuslady.