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 relentless 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 sellout online around the world. She’s put down 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 and America, 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. Today, Tuesday’s work continues to inspire strength. Her new clothing line helps her customers feel empowered every single day.

Beyond taglines 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. With her 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, complete with aqua walls and a sparkly plush booth. The pizzaz of her home life 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!