HOW TOs Hummingbird Beats: Jessica Hische Jill Donenfeld

Jessica Hische really is magical. Hummingbirds wings flap in the shape of infinity and it seems like JH can letter the alphabet infinitely… (did that work?) Anyway, she made a Should I Work For Free matrix! Her lettering is both kitsch and nouveau (after all, she dreams it up) and her projects range from corporate (um, AmEx) to seriously adorable (a site called Mom This Is How Twitter Works). She splits time between Brooklyn and SF. I want a hummingbird typeface!

What’s in your bag? When you pack for a trip, in your handbag, in the pockets of your jeans…?

I travel pretty lightly usually (never check a bag unless I’m away for more than two weeks), carry-on rolling luggage and a purse. In my purse I keep my MacBook air (I have a tiny one), my iPad (for movies on the plane), headphones, chargers, wallet and usually a scarf that doubles as a neck pillow on the plane. I never wear pants when I travel—usually stretchy (but not pajama looking) dresses or leggings and a big (but fashionable) shirt . So… no pockets!

You have 5 minutes to pack up – for a trip of which the duration you’re not sure. What do you take?

My laptop (plus charger), wallet, keys, phone (plus charger), three pairs of underwear, three pairs of socks, three t-shirts, the jeans I’m wearing and a pair of sturdy walking shoes. I’d have enough clothes to get by but not too few that I’d have to wash them every day. If I needed anything else, I could buy it or borrow it at the destination.

What is your most essential article of clothing?

This is a little hard to say definitively, but when traveling, probably well-broken-in shoes. I get ridiculous blisters if I’m in new or even slightly uncomfortable shoes, and I can’t imagine a worse thing than being away from home with sores all over my feet.

What are the top 5 songs you need to have access to hearing at all times?

I definitely don’t need access to any music while traveling since I have a major tendency to hum and sing to myself. I always have a song in my head!

What is your preferred hummingbird beat/cities you like to frequent?

I’m always hopping between San Francisco (where I now live) and Brooklyn (where I still also sort of live…sometimes), and both are my favorite places to be and places to visit. I’m a pretty big fan both Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, and Philadelphia (went to college there). In general, the places I love most are full of people I love. I think people really make or break your experience in a city.

What’s something crazy that you did to follow your passion? (Like, did you live out of your car for a month? Drive 10 hours to pick up a certain, weird material you needed?)

Going to art school was pretty crazy in my family (all science nerds), and moving to New York was a pretty big deal to anyone from my home town—most of my friends stuck pretty close to home. I haven’t done anything all too crazy in pursuit of my passion, though I have some fun stories of things we did to get projects done while working for Louise Fili. Once, Louise (my boss) pretended to be my mom, and me a bride-to-be, so we could go to Kleinfeld Bridal and buy a pair of bridal shoes to shoot for a book cover.

What is one tip you have for traveling – a beauty tip, a survival tip, a culinary tip… ?

Treat yourself to spa treatments when on the road. It only takes one 1-hour spa activity to make your work trip feel like a vacation. I’m a fan of facials because you end up getting a pretty decent head and shoulder massage out of it too.

What makes you a good house guest?

I’m an easy guest and don’t require you to be my tour guide. I’m totally fine going about my own business and not disrupting your daily routine. Also, I try to shower my hosts with gifts—if I’m at your house for a night, I’m at least buying you a nice dinner, and if it’s more you’re getting something else awesome.

What’s a recent or favorite meal you had while bouncing around the globe?

Most of my travel is because of conference speaking, and almost every conference involves a fun speakers dinner. I was recently in Wellington, New Zealand for webstock and we had an AMAZING speakers dinner, very fancy with lots of artfully plated dishes. I was traveling with my cousin and convinced her to step outside of her culinary comfort zone because the meal was so good!

Where have you had your best night’s sleep?

I think the best nights sleep I’ve ever had was actually a best day’s sleep. I traveled to Oslo for a conference and couldn’t sleep on the flight over. When I landed, I was so exhausted that my ears were ringing. As soon as I got to the hotel, I passed out and slept for eight straight hours. My clock was completely screwed up after that but it was so worth it.

Who would you like to travel with – three people (you guys can caravan together or on separate trips)?

My favorite person to travel with is of course my fiancé, Russ — traveling with anyone else is fun, but there’s always something that doesn’t 100% align, and I always end up feeling homesick a bit faster not having him around. I’ve met and traveled with a ton of people because of conferences (there are a few speakers that I’ve shared the billing with more than once) and I think of that crew I’d choose Naomi Atkinson and Sarah Parmenter. They’re two web girls from the UK that I get along famously with and I think we’d tear it up across the globe!

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  1. Awesome interview! Jessica is one inspiring lady.

  2. mwNQ4n itvzijtmyaww

    Anonymous | 3/22/2012 03:03 am
  3. Oooh, ooh, so guess what? My husband comes into my fiofce and excitedly tells me about a new program ( he’s a task management freak..) that he has been using called Teux Deux yep, already hooked.Thanks Swiss Miss!

    Anonymous | 3/20/2012 10:03 am
  4. I’m so glad you all did an interview with Jessica! She’s such an awesome chica and her work is such an inspiration!

  5. me too! She is so crazy talented!

    Jill Donenfeld | 3/05/2012 09:03 am
  6. I want to be Jessica when I grow up. She’s an amazing person and designer. Great interview Jill!