East Village

Tessa Davies


Art director, Tessa Davies, shares with us her love of Wes Anderson, her favorite places in NYC, and how she wouldn't be where she is today without her husband, Mark.


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Tell us how you got to where you are today…
A lot of it has to do with my husband, Mark. There’s no way I’d be in New York without him. When I first met him, he had been talking about moving here for 8 years, but had never actually done it. Then we met, and he was like, “We can’t get serious ‘cause I’m moving to New York.” All his friends had been hearing about it over and over again and were totally sick of it.

When I met Mark I was working as a graphic designer at a small boutique agency in Sydney. He got me into web design, because he’s a web programmer, so I started to get all his freelance jobs. I got more and more involved with web and then we moved here.

Since I’ve been in New York it’s kind of exploded. I got this really good job, and that was through Mark again.

So basically you wouldn’t be anywhere you are without Mark?
[Laughs] Yeah. I feel like I definitely wouldn’t be here. I definitely wouldn’t
be working at Baron and Baron.

What do you do now?
I’m an Art director, which means I’m in charge of several projects and I have
a couple of people who help me out.

And you love design; you want to stay in it?
Totally. For life.

It takes strength to be kind. Kindness seems to be deeply undervalued, but for me it’s the most important of human qualities that I look for and love in people.

Is there a big difference between working in Sydney and working in New York?
I feel like it’s a lot more intense here. You have a lot less time to think about things, you work much longer hours. But it’s much more exciting work. It’s big brands, so it’s all very good for the career.

What about inspiration? How do you usually approach a new project?
I feel like it’s different for each one. Probably, research first, working out what the client is all about, jotting down ideas. I often go to the thesaurus. Then I start sketching ideas.

Do you like living in New York?
Love. It gets into your soul. 

Do you have a life mantra that you live by?
It takes strength to be kind. Kindness seems to be deeply undervalued, but for me it's the most important of human qualities that I look for and love in people. I also do like the “Don’t sweat the small stuff” thing. I think nothing’s worth worrying about too much.

Do you think you’re good at not sweating the small stuff?
Not so much, no. [Laughs] Still working on that.


Do you remember the first album that you ever bought?
I was given a really cool one actually, but I don’t know what the first one I bought one was. The first one I was given was The Stone Roses “Ten Storey Love Song”.

Was that a cassette or a CD?
A CD. I was obsessed with Pearl Jam, so the first one I bought was probably Pearl Jam “Ten”. I played it over and over again. I memorized all the lyrics.

What are you favorite places or things to do in New York?
Walking around downtown. From where we are here in the East Village, and heading south … Soho, Chinatown, Lower East Side. I’ll spend all weekend just walking around, checking out funny little shops.

Do you have any go-to cafes or stores?
So many stores! Creatures of ComfortNumber 6 (both fashion boutiques), AssemblyMaryam Nassir Zadeh (MNZ) … amazing. So beautiful! I’m going 
to miss them so much once we move back to Australia.

What about here in the East Village?
We’ve been going to Evelyn a lot on Avenue C. It’s between a dive bar and really nice. It’s the perfect happy medium. Really good cocktails.

What about dinner in the East Village?
There’s the new Miss Lily’s in the East Village, which is awesome. Really good chicken wings. Edi and the Wolf for something a bit more fancy. Also Goat Town is a really pretty little local spot.

What are you listening to now?
Talking Heads, always. I try and limit them to once a week though as otherwise they’d be on repeat. For new music, I really like Angel Olsen, The War on Drugs, Blood Orange, CHVRCHES, John Grant… Although Neil Young might be my all time fave. 

I also feel like we should mention Wes Anderson. And your love for him …
Yes, I do love him. Every movie, everything is so beautifully thought out, particularly that last one, “The Hotel Budapest”. The first Wes Anderson movie I ever saw was “The Royal Tenenbaums”. I was absolutely floored.
I’d never seen anything like it.


Is there something that you do every single day without fail?
I wake up and have a cup of Earl Grey tea, which Mark will bring me in bed, hopefully. I’m training him [laughs]. My dad, till this day, brings a cup of tea to my Mum in bed every morning. I’m trying to get Mark to do the same. So far, he’s doing well.

What about books? You seem to have quite the collection…
“A Fine Balance,” is probably my favorite. It’s really beautiful! It’s set in India in the 70s ... it’s to do with the political situation which was super shit and racist. But it’s just about the people and they’re super optimistic and beautiful.

And it’s in Oprah's book club!
There you go.

Do you have anything you’re ashamed of?
Blushing at the drop of a hat, salting food before tasting it (I’m a total salt freak), getting stupidly excited about spotting celebrities on the street, binge watching Scandal (the Jake Ballard vs the president drama = sweet torture).

You and Mark want to move back to Sydney eventually, what do you think you’re going to miss most leaving New York? 
So much stuff! I think the people, like, just walking around and having so many awesome and interesting people. Yeah walking around downtown. Exploring.      

Visit Tessa and Mark's site NYC List Lovers for great ideas of what to do, see and eat around New York City.

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Photography by Stephanie Geddes ©

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