The Tenacity of Tuesday Bassen

I create my own reality, and I think to a degree, I shape other people’s reality by putting it out into the world.

The strong progress of Tuesday Bassen is not to be ignored. Her illustrations have graced the pages of New York Times and Playboy and her zines continue to sell out online around the world. She’s traded her pen to take up pottery for Urban Outfitters and has had her pin designs stolen by corporate bully Zara. At just 26 years old, Tuesday not only knows how to thrive, she knows how to evolve. 

In uncertain times, the artist plays a critical role in society. Back in the fall of 2015, when waves of nationalism and xenophobia started descending upon Europe, Tuesday’s work popped up as a heroic symbol on a protest banner next to the words: “Girl Gangz Against Facism.” One could argue that having your work used as a symbol of protest against hate and fear is the highest honor an artist can achieve. And Tuesday’s work extends beyond protests. Her new clothing line helps women feel empowered every single day.

Beyond slogans like “Mixed Emotions Club” and “Relentless”, her clothing fills a gap in women’s fashion. "I like spending my time designing size inclusive clothing that I wish existed otherwise,” said Tuesday. “I find it personally rewarding and I love seeing it worn, especially on people who might not otherwise have found something rad that fit them.”

Tuesday has an impeccable way of standing up for and working for what she believes in. “I refused to get a job that wasn't illustration related, to the detriment of almost every other aspect in my life. I feel like that an insane level of tenacity helped me.” Her strength and grit come from her lineage of strong female entrepreneurs--from a potter to an agricultural journalist to a Goodyear factory worker. Being exposed to a wide variety of ‘women’s careers’ in her childhood and imagery from Easy Rider and Julie Doucet in her adolescence, Tuesday was destined to create girl gangs on paper and in real life.

Tuesday grew up in Nebraska, a daughter of young entrepreneur parents who own a pottery shop and train dogs. Her childhood home was an eccentric retro ranch abode. The kitchen looked like a diner, with aqua walls and a sparkly plush booth. The pizzaz of her homelife helped get her through Nebraskan winters and also influenced her illustration style, which is moody and also bright and bold.

After graduating from Minneapolis College of Art and Design, she got her first gig--a small part of a corporate window display. It paid $1,000 and she decided to move to New York. She spent four years in the Big Apple, building herself as an illustrator. She threw herself into the world of freelance and learned how to be her own boss. After docking up a list of editorial and agency clients, she still craved more freedom. “With client work, you have to appeal to your own sensibilities, the Art Director’s sensibilities, and the rules of the parent company,” she said. “It is a luxury to stop caring, because, for many years, I was too busy working to meet my basic needs to be my true self.” One New York winter, Tuesday decided to live life on her terms. She packed up her car and drove west to Los Angeles.

It’s a new Tuesday in the West Coast. She wakes up at 8:00 a.m., drives to her studio and gets right to work. “I work with my two employee who ship and answer emails. I futz with our online shop, plan photoshoots, and draw maybe 10% of the time,” says Tuesday. “I now focus almost exclusively on producing work for my own clothing label.” Her life and work in L.A. has allowed her to discover her dream client: the girls who want to wear her work. They are actresses, rockstars, and true-to-herself women all around the world.

Join WeMake and Tuesday Bassen on Tuesday, April 25 at the Portland Arts Museum for a special sketchXchange during Design Week Portland. She will be in conversation with her long-time friend Lisa Congdon. Grab your $15 ticket today and don’t miss this incredible talk!

Pin That Shit!— With Makers From Around The World

Flair, we just LOVE it.
— WeMake

We can’t be more excited for this!
Thursday, April 27, Design Week at Tillamook Station

Pin That Shit is not your typical gallery show, but these small creations make big on their statements and style. We've asked over 60 artists from across the globe to participate in our Design Week gala for the sake of arts education. All of the pins will be up for sale with funds going towards our efforts to support this cause. The coolest thing about the show is that so many of the artists submitted 10 of their best pins from their collections. That means we will have over 600 unique pins from some of your favorite designers all in one room!

The Makers

The pins below are not necessarily the pins in the showcase, but a very good chance they could be. 

Images with Work in Progress, will be brand new pins and are in development!

be sure to follow along on Instagram at #pinthatshit


Aaron Draplin  Graphic designer, author and founder of Draplin Design Co. (DDC) and co-founder of Field Notes. Born in Detroit, Michigan, he is now based in Portland, Oregon. @draplin

Always With Honor is a Portland, Oregon-based design, branding and illustration studio. We believe in the power of visual systems, examined through icon sets, brand identities, signage, and illustration. We place value in sharp and clear messaging that maintains a level of warmth and personality. @alwayswithhonor


Adam Trabold  Lead Product Designer at Flywheel obsessed with design-as-thought-process, music, film, technology, and storytelling. @adamtrabold

Adam J. Kurtz is a designer, artist and the author of 1 Page at a Time and Pick Me Up, which have been translated into over a dozen languages. In addition to his “very personal” personal work, he’s collaborated with brands and cultural institutions like Urban Outfitters, the Brooklyn Public Library, Fishs Eddy and Strand Bookstore. @adamjk


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Allison Bamcat is a contemporary illustrator who creates lumpy props and characters suspended in a candy-coated universe. Her illustrations collide with her concentration in surface design, resulting in an array of bouncing conversational repeat prints. She resides in Malden, Mass. with her husband and two cats.

Andrew Lockhart is the one-man show behind Rockhart, a lifestyle brand that fuses the spirit of Rock with the iconography of retro video games. They create for the headbangers and button mashers and firmly believe that old school is the best school. @rockhart


Bill Bubenik, the simpleton behind West Park Creative, has been making letterpress stationery for years. His line of sweetly offensive letterpress greeting cards say what you really want to, but probably couldn’t get away with. with. @westparkcreativestl



Brett Stenson is a lettering designer and illustrator in Portland OR. Currently the art director at Jolby & Friends. @brettpstenson

+ Citizen is a design and technology company. We make digital experiences that work harder for people. @pluscitizen


Jenny Moede is CEO of Citizen and the amateur of this Pin That Shit! design team. She adds monsters into thrift-store paintings (preferably landscapes) in her off-hours and strong-armed the team into the monster theme.

Becca Charlier-Matthews is a designer, illustrator and animator working in Portland, OR. In her spare time she enjoys solo Ouija board sessions and going down dark hallways.

Ryan Mowery is an interaction designer and artist in Portland. He loves technology and ain't afraid of no ghosts.

Thane Lochtie is an interaction designer and illustrator in Portland, Oregon. He has a passion for simple and thoughtful design and a penchant for ghouls and spooks.


Bri Bulski is the owner of Little Arrow, an accessories brand based in Eugene, Oregon. Bri is the creative behind all of the products designed in the studio. She is heavily influenced by toys and memorabilia from her childhood and vintage clothing and accessories. @littlearrowshop

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Cate Anevski is an artist, illustrator, and maker extraordinaire living in the forests outside of Portland, Oregon. Her work is inspired by animals, books, dreams, nature, and a healthy splash of magic. She strives to create the sense of wonder and whimsy that resides in her imagination.

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Chad Landenberger was raised on 80’s cartoons, comic books and skateboarding—all of which influenced who he is today. Chad has worked as a graphic designer for nearly 10 years and he has worked with such local brands Intuition Ale Works and Green Room Brewing as well as international clients like Red Bull and Calvin Klein Golf.
Chad lives in Jacksonville, Florida @eyes_wide_awake


Chloe Ew was born and raised in Houston, TX, but has called Portland home since 2011. She is a passionate designer and illustrator, set on bringing happiness one lil' pin at a time. After searching high and low for the pin of her dreams, Chloe found that it was high time to make it herself. Thus her brand, Wizard Babe Co, was created. She never looked back. @wizardbabeco


Dan Christofferson aka BEETEETH is an illustrator and designer that draws on the abundant, religious heritage of his Utah upbringing to conceive a modern take on the symbols, icons, and emblems associated with generations of local customs.  @beeteeth

Dan Stiles Over the past twenty years, Dan has collaborated with everyone from indie bands to major corporations in creating posters, identities, advertising, custom packaging, and limited edition collectable art and merchandise. His clients range from Arctic Monkeys, Sonic Youth, and Wilco to the X Games, IBM, and Nickelodeon. He lives with his wife and daughters in Portland, Oregon. @danstiles

Danielle McCoy  is a PDX transplant originally from Antigua and Barbuda, twin islands in the Eastern Caribbean. She is an artist and designer, with a deep passion for social and racial justice advocacy. She is currently failing and learning and making and growing at Wieden+Kennedy.  @unlearnlimits


Dora Literell is a designer, illustrator, and a code lover. She’s endlessly enthusiastic, and uses bright color, a thoughtful approach, and humor to create work that is so happy it’s contagious. @computa.dora

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Emily McDowell is a writer, illustrator and entrepreneur who specializes in chronicling the human condition. Her work has been featured by The New York Times, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, BBC News, and NPR's All Things Considered and Morning Edition, among many others. In 2015, she was named one of Slate's 10 Designers Who Are Changing the World. @emilymcdowell_


Eric Reigert is currently working as a Studio Designer at W+K Portland. He's worked with a bevy of clients including, NIKE, Coca-Cola, Old Spice and Laika. He's recently had two illustrations featured in Belly Kids and Sugoi activity books. @eraeric

Evolve is a post-discipline design agency with a serious passion for collaboration and alway a little thinky thinky, makey makey. @evolvecollab

Designers —

Christian Freissler is one of the founding partners at Evolve. His upbringing in the world of impeccable German design shaped his love for Porsche and his obsession with perfect detail.

Wes Hare is a product designer that finds deep satisfaction in balancing visual as well as functional problem solving with product design.

Ute Peppersack is evolve’s dedicated, curious and skillful intern from University of Wuppertal.


Erik Buikema is a graphic designer and illustrator living in the Netherlands. His work focuses on translating everyday life into cheerful imagery. Preferably working with digital media, Erik likes to experiment with different styles that focus on creating bright images with a sense of humor.  @erikbuikema

Figure 8 Creative is a brand-building design and advertising agency in Portland, Oregon, that connects sharp design sensibility with remarkable storytelling.  

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Gemma O’Brien is an Australian artist and designer specializing in lettering, typography and illustration. Her work takes on a variety of forms, from calligraphic brushwork, illustrated letterforms and digital type, to large scale hand-painted murals. A number of her projects have been recognized by the New York Type Directors Club with Awards of Typographic Excellence.  @mrseaves101


Halle Cisco an illustrator, designer and educator. She has taken an art class here and there, but she is mostly self-taught. Halle prefers working with pen and ink, letterpress and screen printing but also uses the computer to add color and words to her drawings. She likes drawing animals, objects and random people. @hallecisco


Hayden Walker is a graphic designer and illustrator originally from Bridgeport, Texas but calls Portland home.  @haydenwalker10


Jason Sturgill is an artist based in Portland, Oregon specializing in conceptual work with a focus on character based illustration. Previously he was a graphic designer for Nike SB and Nike 6.0 in both apparel and brand design. He also spent several years at Wieden+Kennedy and Dark Horse Comics. @jdxpdx


Jean Jullien is a French graphic artist. His practice ranges from illustration to photography, video, costumes, installations, books, posters and clothing to create a coherent yet eclectic body of work. @jean_jullien


Jeff Immer is the founder of BIKLOPS, a branding agency in Portland Oregon. He loves cocktails, video games, his girlfriend, his cats and a pug, and he fucking loves design.  @biklops


Jillian Barthold is an illustrator and printmaker originally from nowhere. Jillian’s work is heavily inspired by the Japanese world view or aesthetic of wabi-sabi, travel, and child-like wonder. Her work acts as a magnifying glass to explore the everyday objects that surround us. @monstersongs


Julia Lopez-Mobilia  is a designer, Illustrator, and cat enthusiast from Austin, Texas. She is currently living in Portland, Oregon and designing fun stuff for The Brigade.  @juliachirps

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Little Friends of Printmaking Husband-and-wife team JW & Melissa Buchanan first made a name for themselves by designing and printing silkscreened concert posters, but soon branched out into further fields, designing fancy junk for whoever would pay them money. In addition to their work as illustrators and designers, they continue their fine art pursuits through exhibitions, lectures, and artists' residencies worldwide, spreading the gospel of silkscreen to anyone inclined to listen. The Little Friends currently live in Los Angeles with two very round cats. @littlefriendsof


Mean Folk is goods for people with bad attitudes, and run by Jon Testa. Jon is a designer and artist based
in Burlington, Vermont.  @meanfolk

His submitted collection also  includes the following artists—

Jeremy Dan Fish Fish’s education and work experience has led to a successful career as a fine artist and commercial illustrator. Finding a balance between exhibiting his work both across the US, and internationally in galleries and museums. While producing commercial illustration projects for a wide range of corporate and independent clients all around the world.  @mrjeremyfish

Tony Riff is a London based illustrator heavily influenced by pop culture, cartoons, and the weird and wonderful, with a habit for creating characters that tread the fine line between being sweet and innocent or dark and sinister.  @tonyriff

 Keenan Bouchard is a native Vermonter currently residing in Austin, Texas making marks at Rock of Ages Tattooing.  @keenanbouchardtattoo


Kate Bingaman-Burt is an illustrator and educator. Her work orbits around the objects in our lives: the things we buy, the things we discard, and the collectivity and social interaction that can arise from cycles of consumption. Some recent clients include IDEO, Uniqlo, Chipotle and Oprah Magazine. @katebingburt

HERENOW Creative is a creative and project management agency located in the Hollywood district in Portland. We specialize in 2D & 3D design and project management. Our have clients included Nike, Converse, Columbia, and Lyft. @herenowcreative


Logan Robert Kornhauser is an Art Director currently living in Portland and working with R/GA. He draws on things, hunts for good bagels, and can't believe it actually rains this much in Oregon. @voidofcourse


Liunic On Things is a Jakarta, Indonesia based illustration studio focusing on wearable drawings with honest and relatable art featuring cute graphic doodles and animals.

Art Director & Illustrator, Martcellia Liunic found her joy in sharing her feelings and experience through wearable drawings that people can relate to. With the help of her sister, Owi Liunic, they are continually inspired by their feelings, animals, japan and sometimes apathy towards the world around them.  @liunic


Mark Caneso is a type designer and lettering artist whose work ranges from custom type design to visual identity. His client base spans across the globe with international recognition in publications such as: Communication Arts, Print Magazine & the Type Directors Club.  @markcaneso

Mette Hornung Rankin is a designer and illustrator with a focus on packaging, books, branding and finding interesting interpretations of everyday life as the design studio Bureau of Betterment. Her approach is a hybrid of minimalistic Scandinavian influence and roughly optimistic pioneer spirit, combining functionality and efficiency with personality and verve.  @fromthebureau


Michael Possert, Jr has a passion to convey ideas and storytelling effectively through visual and handmade means. Starting at the age of five he made his first model kit, a battleship that promptly took to the lake and sank. At age eight, he started using models, miniature sets and basic visual effects in Super-8 movies with the neighborhood kids. Having worked on a variety of movies since then, he has been exposed to many materials and techniques in the art and craft of fabrication. He currently works in stop motion at Laika Studios. @circa1964

Mike Aknin founded Good Hustle Company in 2016 as an urban lifestyle brand. Their current focus is on on enamel pins and patches with plans to expand to t-shirts and limited prints soon. Good hustle's brand and art is greatly influenced by the golden era hip hop era. @goodhustlecompany

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Morgan Braaten is a Portland based graphic designer and illustrator who works as the product designer for Nutcase Helmets. Her favorite part of the job is working on their line of children's helmets, where she gets to draw plenty of robots, pirates and even the occasional cat. @mbraat


Natelle Quek is an illustrator currently based in Gainesville, Florida. She runs her small business Natelle Draws Stuff full time, designing flair and accessories for fun people who love fun things. When she's not hunched over her laptop drawing animals, Natelle likes to go on hikes, collect succulents, and visit the local animal shelter to give the cats and pups lots of cuddles.  @natelledrawsstuff

Nick Misani is the senior designer at Louise Fili Ltd, Nicholas creates quintessentially Italian, historically-inspired design and lettering every day. Born in Milan into a family of jewelry designers, with formal training in architecture and industrial design. He is a part of the ADC Young Guns, and has been featured in Print Magazine, Fast Company, The Dieline, The Type Director’s Club, Quipsologies/UnderConsideration, Novum, and AIGA. @nickmisani


Official Mfg. Co., a multidisciplinary creative studio based in Portland, believes it's easy to make things pretty, but hard to make them matter. Regardless of the type of client, or the project at hand, they search for meaningful insights and then set out to express them in the best way possible. @omfgco


Rambling Hands is the collective efforts of artists, Andreia Claro and Patrick Egan. A creative vessel for which we can bring forth our passions, along with those of like minded individuals.  @ramblinghands


Robert Hernandaz of  The Lighter Type which was created out of a desire to make and design awesome stuff with a focus on typography. And we mean great stuff. Stuff to be proud of. Stuff you could wear. Stuff you could decorate your home with. Stuff you want to show off. Because what’s the point of having cool stuff if you don’t share it with the world? @thelightertype


Rory Phillips is a freelance graphic designer and illustrator. He is originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland but currently lives and works in Portland, Oregon. Rory has been lucky enough to work on a wide range of different projects; from animation and storyboarding, to papercraft and game design (plus just about everything in-between). He loves making things and hates writing about himself. RoryPhillips


Sarah Anderson founded City of Industry by in July 2013. Raised in Utah, Sarah named the shop after her home state's motto, Industry, and after her second home, New York City, where she found an inspiring community of creative people. The pins are created for makers and hobbyists: they are badges of honor for the people with specific passions, especially those who make things with their hands. Over the years, this one-woman company's product line has expanded to include a variety of accessories, gifts, and home goods. @cityindustry


Sara Lyons is a PROFESSIONAL WEIRDO,  artist, illustrator, and product designer from Anaheim, California. Whatever Forever.  @saramlyons


Samantha Leung owns Handmade Sam Made. Sam is a designer & maker of pins & mobiles. Sam loves plants & making things by hand. @handmadesammade

Scout Books are custom notebooks made with love in Portland, OR using recycled materials and vegetable-based inks. Our small team of makers prints and binds them in our shop, using equipment that runs on renewable energy. We work with a diverse range of clients and collaborators, including creative agencies, innovative brands, nonprofits, and educational institutions. We're proud to have partnered with WeMake on many collaborations and events over the years! @scoutbooks

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Superduper was started in 2015 by Danny Rutledge, a designer and artist living and working in Seattle, WA. Our goal is to add some fun and flair to your everyday and to stand as a reminder that you're freaking awesome and doing a Superduper job at being you. @danny_rutledge


Super Team Deluxe is a collaborative funhouse churning out products we like for other people that might like them too. @superteamdeluxe


Sean McMahon owns Brewery Outfitters in Portland, Oregon. He makes custom merch for your brewery, agency, band or brand. @breweryoutfitters


Sean Walsh is Secret Society Goods, an amalgamation of scab dust, deep shadows, and the feeling that you are being watched while you sleep. Sean has been making art and design through both traditional and digital mediums for the better part of his existence, but more recently has begun channeling these efforts into a line of wearable accessories and art prints. Proudly hailing from swamplands of Orlando, Florida, he has shown work at Redefine Gallery Orlando, MOCA Miami and Helium Creative Fort Lauderdale.  @secretsocietygoods

Studio Mega is a dynamic creative team based in Portland, Oregon. We think big for partners of all sizes who believe in the power of design to move hearts and minds and achieve something better. @_studiomega


Pinroll Press was started by three friends in Chicago looking for an excuse to create some happy in the world. Our enamel pins not only add flair to any outfit, but they also spark conversations about long forgotten treasures of the past. Or maybe just about what color blow-up chair you had.  @pinrollpress

Thomas Le Dluz is a French Illustrator that moved to Portland on a visa 3 years ago, and currently is a graphic designer at Nemo Design. @thomasledluz


Tuesday Bassen is an award winning illustrator and designer living in Los Angeles, CA. She lives with three dachshunds named Gus, Scully, and Baby. She works with clients ranging from The New Yorker to Fuck Yeah Fest. To see more of Tuesday's illustration work, check out Want to know more? Read Tuesday's interview with The Great Discontent.  @tuesdaybassen

Hey, like Tuesday? Join us on Tuesday, April 25 at the Portland Art Museum for a special sXc for more Tuesday.

Theatre of the Absurd is an ongoing exploration and collection of all that is absurd. @theatre.of.the.absurd

Uncorked Studios is a product design and development company focused on the relationship between digital environments and the physical world.  @uncorkedstudios


Jessica Hische is a world-famous letterer, illustrator, type designer, and relentless procrastiworker since 2009 and have worked for (and continue to work for) a lot of wonderful clients like Wes Anderson and Penguin Books. @jessicahische

Badge Bomb works with inspiring artists to design smart gifts from ideas they believe in.  They sell buttons, magnets, enamel pins, patches, stickers, art prints, and more. All buttons and magnets are manufactured in Portland. @badge_bomb

Student Spotlight – Meet Subin Yang

WeMake loves to showcase and support the future of the arts in our Student Spotlight Series. I recently had the pleasure of being introduced to Subin Yang, a colorful Digital Illustrator at PNCA (Pacific Northwest College of Art).

Here’s what Subin had to say about her process and journey as a Digital Illustrator.

Tell us a little about yourself. (Where are you originally from? What is your favorite medium to work in?)

I'm originally from Seoul, South Korea. I came to Portland to study illustration at PNCA. Just 2 years ago or so I was an all-out traditional illustrator and now I've almost completely switched over to digital illustration after studying at PNCA. My biggest and immediate inspiration is color so there's freedom in being able to pick the exact shade and color I want for my images when I'm illustrating digitally.

How did you find the medium that best worked for you? What was that process of discovery like?

All through my life learning how to draw, I'd always been obsessed with colors that are now in trend but not really 10 years ago. Mixture of pastels with neon and saturated colors are now pretty easy to see in design stores and clothes which make me immensely happy but I still feel like those colors are more easy to access for drawing on digital platform. I've gone through crayons, color pencils, markers, pretty much all the dry media that can produce close to the kind of colors I like and also be able to have total control over the mark making I make. One of the reasons I wanted to attend an art school was to learn how to digitally illustrate and now I've fully endorsed digital illustration precisely because of my love for being able to be expressive with colors. 

What were some of your early influences to pursue an education in the arts? Did you always want to be an artist when you were a child?

I've studied and made art since I was able to draw. A lot of it is also thanks my parents recognizing my love for art from young and letting me really pursue it though lessons, going to plenty of museums, and having art history books of my favorite artists since I was young. 

Outside of your art—what feeds your imagination and soul, and brings you joy?

Outside of art, traveling around and experiencing different cultures have been the biggest influence in my life. Thanks to my father's work, I had the opportunity to live in New Delhi, India for five years and those five years have become the most colorful part of my life. I was able to experience life outside of what I knew and learn about the rich culture and history of places far from Korea. 

I'm also now extremely fond of good food (street food, restaurant food, snacks, anything as long as it tastes good), once again lovely colors, jazzy music as well as sappy old kpop, giant stationary shops in Korea, children's books, deep sea creatures, and currently the farmers market here in Portland. 

 Our theme for this quarter is "perseverance." As an artist, what does this mean to you? 

As an artist, I feel the need to persevere every day. It's the dedication to keep on making something creative, but also to convey an idea that can better the world somehow and to communicate that message through my art to the audience. It can be something as little as making a cute imagery of a mole that can put a smile on someone's face to making a work to support the ACLU to keep continue fighting for human rights. Also in the world where artists are often mystified as people with "natural talents" who didn't have to put any time and effort into learning how to make marks, which is simply not true. I think it's important to constantly remind people and myself of the value of art and what goes into making good art. 

How do you hope your personal expression will reach others, through your art?

I hope that my personal expression can be empowering for some, funny to some, and just lovely to some people as well. I hope that at the end of the day, that my art can make people feel some sort of connection to. 

To see more of Subin's work, visit his website at
IG: @subinie94


“Sometimes ideas boomerang back - listen to yourself and know that it’s there.”
— Brett Stenson

Brett Stenson is a dude.

And according to his good friend Adam Garcia, he's a sensitive dude who has a fucking incredible talent for synthesizing. To a packed house at WeMake's most recent sketchXchange, the pair took the floor with Adam moderating, to talk about Brett's inspiration, evolution and process as a designer and illustrator. With him he brought hundreds of wildly varied yet magically cohesive pieces of his work (which he packed onto the walls of Tillamook Station), along with the entire staff of Jolby & Friends, his wife Heidi, dog Ole, and a slew of captivating and rich stories, giving the evening a level of intimacy you might find in a dimly lit Midwestern bar or grease rag strewn mechanic's garage. 

Brett comes from a family of farmers in Wisconsin where there's no day off from raising cattle. "I guess I kind of look at work that way. Working hard is super important - nothing is going to be given to you." Growing up he rode BMX, wrestled in high school and was going to join the army or be a welder. Adam asserted, "What else do dudes do!?" Thanks to his dad's wife at the time saying he should go into art school, Brett listened and enrolled at Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, even though "everything else about her sucked". That suggestion and decision changed the roadmap of nearly every avenue for Brett...except work ethic. 

As the rain bore down on the venue throughout the evening, Brett took us though his beginnings as a designer for a marketing agency, where he often found himself grudgingly whiling away the hours on projects of little interest. With unabashed humility, he explained of his bar for making every piece of work he tackles, the very best. "There's an element of dealing with shit you don't like to find the things you really love about your job." He credits those early experiences for much of the growth, learning and sharpening of his skills that led him to break out on his own as an independent freelancer. His "8 and 8" philosophy which entailed working 8 hours for the agency during the day and then 8 more each night on freelance, allowed him to not only develop a robust catalog of work, but helped him to position each new opportunity as if bringing 2 boats together so closely, that he could easily step from one to another without stretching. That work ethic and strategy eventually led him to Portland and his current role as Art Director for Jolby & Friends. 


Admitting his intimidation for Brett's "dudeness", Adam pried deeper into the theme of synthesis and mythology in much of Brett's work. At the core, synthesis is about merging what you do and what you love together. Take it multiple steps further, and it's about mashups at every turn. Greatly inspired by the outdoors, snowboarding and motorcycles, he showcased brilliantly merged illustrations of a motorcycle engine in the outline of a snowboard deck and a mythological scene inside the gas tank of a motorbike. He spoke of his love for vintage typeface and much of his work feels like a cross between a look through your grandfather's ammo closet and the pages of an 80's Thrasher skateboard magazine. Mashing two of the most unlikely fonts together to create something so ugly that you feel compelled to stare, is a technique he employs often and can be seen in a recent Widmer Brewery campaign he did with Jolby. 

To get inside the mind of Brett Stenson you need to be prepared for an imaginatively untamed world of mythos and lore that might leave you feeling like you just woke from a peyote trip. He told the story of Varado, a series of work inspired by an idea that finds a contestant of the Baja 1000 (a Mexico motorcycle race), stranded in the desert on the brink of death, only to begin losing their mind and seeing portals with strange mystical people. Brett is an avid player of Dungeons & Dragons and Magic the Gathering, which has had a big impact on his work. "I would create all sorts of weird mythos in my head and didn't really care if it translated to anyone else because it got something huge out of my head. It was more about drawing, writing a story that fulfills me, and about pushing technique - you tried it and you did it. If I'm going to try it I'm going to do it." It took 9 months to do all the work for Varado.

By the end of the evening, the 70+ member audience felt more like a small gathering, in from out of the rain with Rainier in hand, and spellbound by the storytelling of a sage. The charming exchange between Adam and Brett left a feeling of inspiration to roll up your sleeves and burn the midnight oil. Brett's parting advice was to listen to yourself and embrace the way you think. Trust your process and give it time to unfold. "Sometimes ideas boomerang back - listen to yourself and know that it's there." 

Photos by Alyse Gilbert and Daniel Cole