One of the things Jessica said in her talk was how difficult and how long it can take to find your voice in design. Figuring out yourself; your strengths and weaknesses, are a big chunk of that. I believe that you've got to try it all out, even the scary stuff like AfterEffects (just kidding, only kinda) if you're ever going to truly discover your voice. Sure, you're going to create a lot of crap along the way, but you've got to make that stuff and move on and get better. It takes a long time and it's difficult, but if it helps you find your voice in the design world, well then bring it on.
Jessica, as did Doyald Young (Watch him talk here:http://www.lynda.com/home/Player.aspx?lpk4=75866&playChapter=False), talked about the distinct differences between typography and lettering. Through my research, I learned that lettering are words in a specific location. You can't rearrange them and get another beautiful word. Once they're placed, they're there to stay. Typography on the other hand is an entire alphabet. it's type-able and transferrable. Here's some Jessica Hische lettering to salivate over:
Jessica also differentiated between graphic design and illustration. With design, you get a totally new project almost every go-around. With illustration, it becomes more literal. People hire you based on things you've drawn well in the past. There was a chocolate company that Jessica with where she met a man who only drew chocolate for a living. Can you imagine that? I can only hope he reaped the benefits of his "live studies."
I thought it was interesting that when Jessica submits her ideas to her clients, she normally provides them with an all image-based solution and an all-type based solution. And how much of a coincidence that that is the solution we must come up with for our book jackets. I think by separating the two it causing you to think more consciously of the design you are putting to paper and prevents you from repetition (why would you want to see an apple and also read it on a page?)
Here are some beautiful type-solutions that Jessica did for some classics (this is design porn people, straight up):
Jessica said that lettering experts are always able to make a house inviting and pretty but type designers are like the architects. They build forms that are solid with structures that will stand the test of time. Doyald Young is a logotype designer with an eye for detail and a passion for typography. "Our lives revolve around typography," according to Doyald. Lettering will always create a personal experience. It is specifically tailed to you. It's custom, unique, and yours.
Jessica's first job was with Louise Fili, another fantastic person who makes beautiful things that solve difficult and challenging problems (Check her out here: http://www.louisefili.com/)
Designers today, successful ones, find their niche through their "passion projects." Self-authored projects done purely for their own enjoyment. Jessica's "passion project" was the Daily Drop Cap, where she drew a letter a day. These are projects are so successful because the reasoning behind it is simply the fact that they're doing it for pure enjoyment.
Check out here engagement website: http://jessandruss.us/
Design can be a real bitch sometimes. But it's worth it. Be passionate about the bitchiness. I'm just starting to figure out my design voice and just starting to discover the bitchiness behind it all. But I'm embracing it, learning from it, and forging ahead. Full immersion, design-style. Let's do this.