A conversation with Homes illustrator, Tuesday Bassen


All photos courtesy of Amber Byrne Mahoney

One of the most fun parts of putting an app together is choosing the right artist. For Homes, we were so pleased to work with award-winning illustrator Tuesday Bassen. Tuesday filled each home with joyful, playful, and sometimes, personal details.

Here, she shares a little bit about her own home, her working process, and her inspirations and influences.

Which house in Homes is most like your own and how?

The brownstone! I live in a row house in Brooklyn, so while my own abode isn’t nearly as grand, it’s close enough.

If you could live in any house in Homes, which would you and why?
The ger (yurt). I’d be happy in a small room with brightly colored textiles and a little wood stove. I wouldn’t say no to a little yak butter tea, either!

What is your favorite room or feature of your own home? Why?
The kitchen. I am getting rid of most of my belongings right now, but I love having a fully stocked and equipped kitchen. My favorite thing to look at is my green kettle; it’s functional but so beautiful.

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All photos courtesy of Amber Byrne Mahoney

Homes is a little bit about immersing yourself in different parts of the world — what’s your most memorable travel experience?

I studied abroad in Samara, Russia, as a high schooler. Samara is a working-class, industrial city (much like a Russian Detroit) and though it was a tough place to live in every aspect, I enjoyed doing simple things like going to the local food markets and eating traditional Russian dishes — but not aspic, that’s meat gelatin! Yuck!

Tell us a bit about where you live. How does place affect your work?
For the past four years I’ve lived in NYC, but I’m packing up my cat and moving to LA right before our next polar vortex. I’m hoping that the pace, sunshine, and cheap avocados in Los Angeles will change my work for the better — I’ll report back when I get there!

What’s your work ritual?

  • New project
  • Get a coffee
  • Panic about the project
  • Pace around, whine a little
  • Start sketching, throw away the first two, then get in the groove and suddenly remember that I love drawing. Why did I ever whine about this?
  • Send sketches to client
  • Pace around and question whether my sketches were any good
  • Get approval from client and feel an immediate rush
  • Refine drawing in pencil and put on one song on repeat for hours in my headphones. Today, it’s “I Wanna Be Your Man,” by Suzi Quatro
  • Ink for a few hours with a sable brush and deep black ink
  • Scan
  • Color in Photoshop while watching X-Files and drinking more coffee
  • Send off and bite my nails until I hear back from the art director
  • Breathe a sigh of relief
  • Go out for ice cream with lots of toppings
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All photos courtesy of Amber Byrne Mahoney

Where do you go for inspiration?

I like to travel when I’m feeling stuck! Almost all of my income goes to buying plane tickets and saving up to go to new places. This year I went to Mexico for the first time and filled my sketchbook with drawings of animals, plants, and buildings. The most inspirational place I’ve ever been is Barcelona — the blend of Moorish, art nouveau, and modern architecture was mind-blowing.

What were some of your earliest influences?
I was super into disco, funk, and most things ‘70s as a kid, which I think informed my cute, but irreverent, taste and sense of humor. I have a bunch of great drawings in marker from that period of roller rats, women in platforms, and feathered hair/afros with copious sparkles. I was pretty aware of illustration early on and these artists were my everything: Tomi Ungerer, Shel Silverstein, Victoria Cross, and Richard Scarry.

In your field, whose work do you admire, and why?
Aaron Meshon’s work — it’s naive looking, but is very smart and fun conceptually. Check out his book, Take Me Out to the Yakyu, which compares Japanese and American baseball traditions through a child’s eye.

Where did you grow up? Was art a part of your childhood?
I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, with a very creative, entrepreneurial family. From carpentry to sewing to painting, each family member has their own creative endeavor (or five), but I’m the first person in my family to pursue the arts full-time.

What are your favorite children’s books, now, and when you were a kid?
My favorite current children’s books are Around the World with Mouk, by Marc Boutavant and Big Rabbit’s Bad Mood, by Ramona Badescu, but my favorites growing up were Allumette, by Tomi Ungerer and Slugs, by David Greenberg. All of them are very clever and just a little irreverent.

Thank you, Tuesday!