Interview: Valéry Lemay

Valéry Lemay is a Graphic Designer and Illustrator from Montréal. She is also the founder of Leclubmay, a paper and textile illustration company. In this interview, we asked Valéry about freelancing, where she finds inspiration, and her process when she starts a new project.


When did you start doing Graphic Design & Illustration? 

It all happened by accident. I started a Communication degree in 2011. As part of the program, I had to choose an extra-curricular course in my second semester. Mine was an introduction to graphic design. I instantly fell in love and I applied to the Graphic Design program the next year. As for the illustration part, it just happened without thinking. To me, graphic design and illustration came hand in hand.

Where do you find inspiration? 

I find inspiration from so many things. From books, conversation, movies (I’m in an old French film phase), music, etc. I also love to collaborate on projects because it gives a direct source of inspiration through the person I work with or the nature of the project. I like it because it gives me ideas I wouldn’t have normally come up with by myself. 


What’s your process for starting a new project?

I start by researching the subject and then I write down ideas. Once I have 3 ideas that I like, I start sketching/designing variations of those ideas. It’s the most important step in my process. I spent as much time as I need there. Once I feel like I have some interesting options, I send the client propositions to choose from. After that step, we start a little dance of back and forth decisions to refine the vision until it’s all done. 

How long does it normally take for you to finish an illustration?

It varies sooo much. It can take anywhere from 15 minutes to multiple days. 


How did you get started doing freelance work? 

I started freelancing as soon as I finished school. I was lucky enough to work with a friend of mine Véronique Lafortune (Le Billyclub) who needed a hand on restaurant branding so I had a bit of work coming from there. Eventually had some contracts on my own and shortly after that, I started my little print company, Leclubmay, which gave me an extra income. 

Was there ever a point in your career when you felt like giving up?

Well, not giving up… but I did reconsider my freelance career several times. It can be hard and stressful sometimes. The work isn’t consistent, especially when starting. In my experience, it’s either super busy or super calm. But at the end of the day, the positive surpasses the negative. I love to freelance and collaborate with different clients every day. 


Do you have any advice for aspiring Graphic Designers & Illustrators who want to pursue freelancing? 

Do it. Just start. Put yourself out there (online). Use Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Behance, etc. Try not to compare yourself to others. Make the work you wish to be hired for and most importantly, have fun! It’s scary and hard, but it so worth it once you get over the hurdle of "can I do this?". Just do it and you’ll be surprised by what comes up. Don't let fear or insecurity stop you from trying. Just start.


Are you working on any big projects right now? What can we expect from you in the next couple months? 

Yes, but unfortunately most of them are still in the secret phase so I can’t reveal too much. BUT, I can say that I’m working with a publishing house on a series of book covers and I’m also working on a couple of albums/vinyls cover design. I also just launched a new series of print on Leclubmay and we can expect new t-shirts designs in the upcoming weeks.