Public eye: Benjamin Ayers, 25

New York street interviews: Stories from the sidewalk as told by real New Yorkers about their lives in the city that never sleeps.

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Photograph: Jay Muhlin


46th Ave at 21st St, Long Island City, Queens

What do you do? I just started a job as an art handler.

Dropped anything yet? No, I have steady hands.

Do you have to limit your coffee intake for that? No, just the beer intake. [Laughs] My father was a carpenter and I've been working with him since I was young. I'm handy, in some respects.

Are you an artist, too? Yeah. I have a studio in Bushwick. I make sculpture, paintings and drawings. I'm also a set designer for an Off-Off-Off Broadway company called the Glass Bandits, and I also work with Theater in a Van.

In a van? They perform in a giant bus, usually on Bedford Avenue.

Of course. What's your art like? I work a lot in wood and steel, and I do a lot of welding. Everything I make looks like you could have found it in a lost corner of a barn.

Sounds marketable—you could sell to Pottery Barn. [Laughs] It has a little more edge than Pottery Barn. But I wouldn't be opposed.

How does your practical-carpenter dad feel about his son as an artist? I think he likes the take I have on it. I'm a logical person. I've got a day job, but it still sounds great at a bar, telling people what I do.

You mean you get points with the ladies? Right: "What do you do?" "I'm an artist." [Laughs] No, I tend not to pull that. Most of my friends who use that line, their parents pay for their lofts. With a carpenter dad and a schoolteacher mom, it's more like...a buncha loans.

What is your target audience? Women aged 25 to 35. No, just kidding. I want the five smartest people in any room to know who I am. I don't really want to be famous, I just want my work to appreciate a little bit.

So how is the dating scene? It's fun. Everyone is really...cool. I just have a good time. The girls are here and I'm here.

That was really lame. You'd make a great politician. [Laughs] Thank you. I've been working on that my whole life.

More from Benjamin

"I grew up on a lake. I'm really into boats."

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