Who are you, where are you and what do you do?
My name is Ben Tousley, I live in Brooklyn and I’m a graphic designer in New York City.
What are you currently working on?
I most recently did some album packaging for Sondre Lerche’s self-titled release, which came out this past summer and is the second record I’ve designed for him. I’m currently looking into starting a self published magazine to showcase some of my friends work, but we’ll have to wait to see how that idea pans out.
For my day job I’m a designer working for Stephen Doyle at Doyle Partners where I’ve been helping with a redesign for a NYC art museum identity, some large word installations for the NY Times, a photography art book, building signage, and other fun things. It’s been a great experience for me so far. I like the sense of whimsy and humor he always tries to include in his work.
When did you come out and what was the story?
I came out during my junior year in college, about three or four years ago. I think for me it happened naturally through a combination of pacing and good friends. Looking back, I think realizing it for myself was the hardest part. Then as I gradually started telling my friends, all of my anxiety about it faded away with their support. No one treated me any differently and that helped me realize how trivial it is — or at least how trivial it should be.
How does being queer effect your work, if at all?
As far as subject matter goes, I’m not sure it’s had much of a real effect on the work itself at this point. A lot of my design work has been for clients and I just haven’t really focused on it with my personal work yet. But who knows, maybe I will down the line. I definitely appreciate when it becomes an element of other artists’ work because I think it’s an interesting perspective to have in the world right now.
I also always enjoy meeting and working with other gay people through projects and that’s something I hope to keep up. Ed Droste from Grizzly Bear is actually the first person I came out to while we were working on Yellow House packaging and then this past summer his was the first gay wedding I’ve ever been to. That’s been very special to me.
In your mind, what should gay pride be and how would you celebrate it?
I think it’s different for everyone and that maybe that should be the point – everyone has their own unique situations and it’s worthwhile to just embrace that and make the best of everything. For me, sometimes I think showing pride is simply not worrying about mentioning I’m gay to people I’ve just met, for example. I don’t see any reason to make a big deal out of it nor any reason to keep it quiet, either. I’m just happy to be who I am and to hope that people enjoy that.
That said — going to drag shows, wearing fancy clothes and/or listening to Whitney Houston are also things I think everyone could do a little more of. I have a pink postcard above my desk that I love from BUTT magazine of a glowing sign somewhere that just says “Why Not.”