Katy Lemay

Katy Lemay

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Can you recall the first time you realized you were going to be an artist?
I always knew I was going to be an artist. Initially, in university, I chose psychology but went back to school for graphic design after one year of study. Since childhood, I always chose an artistic path. I found a way to create with anything around me; often they were things from my mother’s shed. It wasn’t necessarily drawing or painting either. I built a lemonade sales stand once. With the dimes and quarters I earned, I went out and bought my first set of oil pastels which I still have.

What were your earliest impressions?
I remember using an old wooden plank from the shed as a canvas. It was in that same shed that I experimented and explored my creativity. It was my workshop. A space with no boundaries and no adults. I used to love to change the decor and make the place my own. Art has always been an exploration for me; anything but conventional. All I wanted was to have fun and to experiment.

Who or what influenced your art when you were young?
Definitvely, my Dad. He was an entrepreneur and an artist. He studied fine arts and was very avant-garde. At the time, he owned land. He decided to create a fairytale-like attraction park in our small town. My father was very experimental and most of his inventions were fabulous.
He owned a menswear clothing store on the main street in town. He designed and tailored custom-made fashion suits. I remember hearing conversations about advertising; seeing printed promotional brochures. I’ll never forget the moment he asked me to prepare a window display for the holiday season. I was very young. It became an important milestone in my life and remains so to this day.

Do you remember what your first artwork looked like? Do you still have it?
Yes. I have some early drawings. I also kept many less than beautiful works that I’d done while studying graphic design in college. At the time, I didn’t think I was going to be an illustrator. Nothing pointed to that. I like to look at early works sometimes in order to see the maturation process I’ve gone through.

Why did you choose illustration as your life’s work instead of, for example, filmmaking, law, or even medicine?
So I could have fun and do what I love to do. I studied to be a graphic designer but discovered that being an illustrator allowed me more freedom.

Did you study art in school?
Yes. I studied graphic design at Université du Quebec à Montreal.

Where does your inspiration come from; your impulse to make art?
Generally, from old magazines and pictures that I like.

Do you have a source for your ideas?
Words are my source. Words inspire creativity. I look for their meaning and purpose in a text. I enjoy looking up words in the dictionary. When I can’t find words, I look at old pictures in vintage magazines.

How would you describe the process of creating art?
In two words: experimental and intuitive.

Do you have a favorite artist? What is it about that artist’s work you like?
Mark Ryden is a favorite for his craziness and the inventive world he conjures. Louise Bourgeois is another; for her love of textiles and the concepts attached to her work.

If you could do something else, other than creating art, what would it be?
I’d be a clothing designer or a fashion stylist.

Do you remember your first set of paints, pens, or markers?
Yes, those oil pastels from money earned at my first lemonade stand.

Do you have a favorite artist supply, a favorite method, or favorite location, where you like to create artwork?
I go to the public library to do research. It’s there that I start putting my ideas on paper.

If you could give a viewer clues to understanding your art, what would you say?
With collage, anything is possible.

Do you think illustration has the eye of the public or could public awareness of this field be improved upon?
I think that the public takes images around them for granted. That’s why, we have to convey, as illustrators, our ideas clearly.

Why does art matter to you? Why should it matter to the world?
Art is powerful.

If you could look back or forward a hundred years, do you think the life of an artist was or will be better than today?
Artitistic women have come a long way. Art was, and still is, a way for women to emancipate themselves.