Interview: Tuesday Bassen
Tuesday Bassen is an award-winning Illustrator, Designer, and Art Director living in New York City.
Her skills range from editorial illustration, event graphics, ceramics, to art direction and brand experience working for a variety of cliens including The New York Times, Snapple, Tinybop, Fiat, Playboy, Target, American Greetings, United Nations, Design*Sponge and Mott’s.
After spending the last few years living and working in New York City, Tuesday is preparing to return to sunny California. East coast illustrator and Inkygoodness reporter Cait Brennan caught up with her earlier this week to find out more.
We recently heard about your move to California and we’re so sad you’re leaving! What are you going to miss most about New York City?
There is no place like New York. I love the energy of this city; but it can feel a bit frantic and distracting, so that’s partially why I’m leaving. I’m looking forward to moving somewhere with a slower pace that still has a really vibrant art community. I’ll of course be back in NYC a lot, so I can still get that does of energy, and then, I’ll go back to LA, regroup, and actually get some work done.
I’ve heard you talk a lot about getting lost, and how being out of your element is inspiring to you. Is moving a part of your creative process?
I’m more comfortable in New York than I’ve ever been. I’m craving throwing myself into another situation, a new city, discovering new things; I’m just excited to get lost in a new place.
Let’s say you’re having trouble brainstorming new ideas, what do you do to get your creative juices flowing?
I try to give myself enough of a ritual where that doesn’t really happen anymore. But something that helps me to feel continuously inspired is sitting next to other creative’s, and kind of partnering up. Just having that energy next to me really helps me stay inspired. We can chat while we’re working and then go back to focusing. It helps to keep the momentum going.
Is that why co-working spaces have played such a big role in your creative life?
Yeah, for sure. I like being by myself too, so I partially work from home. But I find myself feeling stuck and easily distracted; I’ll just start cleaning or playing with my cats. In a co-working space I can really focus. Plus, there are opportunities for collaboration that I couldn’t have possibly planned, which is really exciting! There’s a lot more chance creativity, and relationships that form with other creative’s that are just totally invaluable.
Aside from chatting with other artists, what else do you like to do while you work? Listen to music? Watch movies?
Consistently, I watch the X files. I finish my process by coloring Photoshop, which is somewhat mindless work, plus I’ve seen every episode like a million times so I don’t even have to pay much attention, but it’s kind of pleasant to have it in the background. I’m also really into prison dramas. If you look at my Netflix queue, there’s of course Orange is the New Black, but there’s also the National Geographic documentary about the Aryan Brotherhood, they’re fascinating! As for Music, hmm *pulls out phone.*
Naturally, I’m the kind of person that gets kind of manic if I’m really excited about a project and if that project feeds into another project, before I know it I haven’t left my apartment or showered in 4 days.
How about top three recent plays?
Fka twigs, Black tambourine, and Pissed Jeans. I like a good variety.
Can you just walk us through your creative process, starting from the moment you receive an assignment?
So in an ideal day, I wake up pretty early in the morning, shower, sit at my desk, answer emails, then get started on projects and sketch everything out. Then, I’ll take a coffee break, walk around, come back, start inking, then finish inking, walk around, eat lunch, scan in the linework, and then color in Photoshop. I try to give myself plenty of time to just relax and think about the project too. To achieve the line quality that I want I really have to be in a more relaxed state. Naturally, I’m the kind of person that gets kind of manic and if I’m really excited about a project, because that project feeds into another project, and before I know it, I haven’t left my apartment or showered in 4 days. But I’m trying to curb that tendency so that I can just be more consistent.
So what’s the shortest deadline you’ve had?
Whenever I’ve done work for the New York Times, I’ll usually get an email at 10:00 AM saying they need sketches in 2 hours and a finished illustration by 3:00 PM. And that can send you into full panic mode. There are some people that are really good at that, and that’s amazing. I would love to get to that point where I can create so confidently and so on the fly where I can be like, “Yeah, 3 hours, no problem.” Kelsey Dake is an example of someone that can work really well with short deadlines, Paul Windle too. I respect both of them so much for having such incredible portfolios on so many crazy tight deadlines.
And what about your longest term project?
My longest term project so far, has been with Tiny Bop. I worked on an app for around 9 or 10 months. And that actually comes out in a month. It’s been really cool to see my work animated. I almost started crying when I saw it because it’s been such an intense labor of love, and so much of myself has gone into it, so seeing it come into fruition has been kind of crazy and overwhelming.
So, what was the point in your life where you discovered that you could actually be an illustrator for a living?
I really lucked out because I went to an arts and humanities focused high school. I think before going there I really had no idea that illustration was something I could do as a career.
I was really into debate and foreign policy at first, and languages, so I thought I was going to do something in Foreign Diplomacy.
Then, I started this program, and they really nurtured my creative skill, so I guess it was around age 17 that I realized this was a viable career option.
Was there someone in your childhood that pushed you to go to that High school?
My mom has always been a huge supporter of my work. But I think I just naturally knew that I craved a more creative environment. I didn’t know that art was going to be something I wanted to study, but I did want to be a part of a small, creative community. The program I attended only had 50 students, with 4 or 5 teachers. Because of that, I was able to do a lot of independent study courses like photography, illustration, as well as more traditional art classes.
I felt really free at that school! If I wanted to drive over to the park to take pictures during lunch, they would just be like, “Peace! We trust you!” It was amazing.
What do you think is next? Is there something you haven’t had the opportunity to work on that you want to work on?
I really want to push my products further. That’s a big reason I’m moving to LA actually. I’m reaching a point where I’ve had smaller scale products made. But I have serious space limitations here in NY. I’ve looked into studio spaces here and financially it really didn’t make much sense to essentially have another apartment on top of a co-working space just store all my products, so when I started looking into studio spaces here and financially it really didn’t make much sense to essentially have another apartment on top of a co-working space just store all my products. When I started looking into that, LA became a lot more attractive because there’s more space, and studio space is just less expensive. So I think I’ll be able to move forward with larger scale products and production. I’m going to start wholesaling too.
I love doing editorial too, especially in children’s media, and I’d like to continue with that. But I really want to just grow my own personal brand right now.