Dreamers + Doers highlights emerging artists, entrepreneurs, and up-and-coming ones to watch. Whether it’s starting a new business, creating something beautiful, or just daring to do things differently, we stand behind those taking steps toward something new.
Our latest inspiration? Tuesday Bassen, the multi-talented artist: illustrating, art direction, crafting ceramics, and putting together zines are all in her wheelhouse. The artist has focused her talents on a myriad of projects, most recently her ceramics collaboration with UO, and blends her clean line drawing with colorful, quirky badass female representations. While Tuesday has been illustrating for years now, she was recently able to make the jump to full-time freelancer and rely on her art for her paycheck. We spoke to Tuesday about how she keeps from getting discouraged, her favorite places to get work done, and what advice she has for other young, up-and-coming artists out there.
Photos by Juliette Cassidy
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background!
My name is Tuesday Bassen, and I’m an illustrator based out of Los Angeles, California.
Illustration is your full-time job now, right? Can you tell us how you made that happen?
Illustration is my full-time job! I’ve been freelancing since I graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2011. I’ve been working since age 15, though, so I had a myriad of retail jobs at vintage, record, and comic book shops.
Do you have any advice for other artists out there looking to make this a full-time career?
Being self-employed isn’t for everyone, but there are lots of different avenues that you can pursue for creative work. Find your niche and think about your personality: do you thrive in a team or do you like working alone? Or both? The beauty of being a creative is that you can do lots of different things because you’re making up your own rules. This piece of advice probably comes as no surprise but: be yourself! People can smell inauthentic work a mile away, so quit it and make the work of your dreams.
What are the challenges of working as a freelance artist? Benefits?
There are plenty of pros and cons for me, but I think for me specifically it can be challenging to have enough self-discipline to keep on track, even if that means not sleeping for a night. Freelancing is most rewarding when I can take off to another city (or country!) and work from there.
What was a moment that made you feel proud as an artist?
I’m constantly stretching and reevaluating my goals as an artist, so I never feel too comfortable with any achievements. That said, I’m very excited to have my ceramic line with UO and to be speaking as a distinguished alumnus at MCAD three years after graduating. Onward!
Can you walk us through a typical day in the life?
Lately, it’s been going something like this:
12 AM- At the Tiny Splendor Press HQ in downtown LA, riso printing two new artist zines. “Ugly Girl Gang” and “Aliens vs Space Cowgirl" (the latter is a collaboration with Penelope Gazin). Both are going to be at the LA Art Book Fair and the LA Zine Fest.
3 AM- Head home to my little bungalow, wrap up some emails for NYC clients.
10 AM- Shuffle into my kitchen to make coffee, start answering emails and working in my pajamas.
12 PM- Work on client illustrations for a few hours, send quick notes off.
3 PM- Shower, drive to Koreatown to meet my friend Jordan Fu to fart around and eat ice cream.
6 PM- Eat dinner with my roommates, Cynthia and Kenny.
7 PM- Roller derby practice with my team, Angel City Derby Girls.
10 PM- Head to the Tiny Splendor HQ to work on zines and client work. Ad nauseum.
Where do you get most of your work done?
Lately, it’s been split between my bedroom and my roommates’ studio. When I lived in NYC, I had a ceramic studio and a spot at Makeshift, a coworking space. I’ll probably get my own studio soon, but for now I’ve been shuttling between the two and it works out well for me.
How has your work changed over the years? How has it stayed the same?
Stylistically, I’ve always gravitated toward clean inked line work and flat color, so I’ve just spent years growing into my specific way of working with my materials. Content-wise, I stopped caring about being commercially viable and just started doing what I want, which works out well for me.
Who are some of your favorite artists and illustrators?
R. Crumb, Julie Doucet, Jen Mussari, Penelope Gazin, Tom of Finland, Ryan Heshka, Amanda Jas, Adam JK, Hellen Jo and so many more.
Have you ever found yourself in a rut creatively? How do you get yourself out of it?
I think it’s important to consistently prepare yourself for the future—art is like anything else, you have to take care of what you’re doing presently as a foresight to how it will affect future you. The best way to get out of a rut is take steps to insure that you don’t get in one in the first place. Take plenty of breaks, go wander around somewhere new, let yourself be sad, let yourself be happy, try something for the first time, reach out to people, achieve good balance and you’ll be fine.
What projects do you have coming up in the future?
More ceramics and more wearable goods coming soon for my own shop!
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