This month's exclusive #stitchventure collaboration is with one of my favorite artists (as well as my friend), Valerie McKeehan of Lily and Val! It has always been a dream of mine to offer exclusive patterns from my favorites and I am just so excited that Valerie is teaming up with us this month to offer you this fun, whimsical and dainty pattern!
1. How did Lily & Val get its start? Lily & Val started as a hobby! In the spring of 2012, my husband and I just got married and I created a hand-lettered chalk sign for my own kitchen. My husband posted that sign to Facebook and with the prompting and
encouragement of our friends and family, I opened an online store that summer. I was the first person to sell chalk art prints & cards in a way that preserved the medium’s authenticity. Because of this, the shop grew beyond what I ever imagined and I was able to make creating artwork a full-time career.
From those humble beginnings, the Lily & Val brand has grown into more than chalk art with hand-lettered and illustrated gift products that are designed to help us connect with ordinary, everyday moments. I feel grateful everyday that I get to do what I love for a living.
2. What is your favorite piece you have made and how did you develop the idea for it? Currently, my favorite piece is the “Life is What you Bake it” print. I was in the kitchen and it hit me that flour was a lot like chalk dust. That gave me the idea to use the dustiness of chalk to look like flour and create the lettering in the negative space. In my book, “The Complete Book of Chalk Lettering”, I talk a lot about using the dustiness of chalk to your advantage. This was a real example of that and why I love the medium so much!
As far as a favorite product, I would have to say the Keepsake Kitchen Diary! It was a passion project for me that combines a recipe keeper with a journal. I love all things nostalgic and this book helps connect us with the memories that inevitably surround food.
3. What currently inspires your work the most? I’m constantly inspired by florals. The name Lily & Val was actually created, in part, because of my (and my Mom’s) shared love of flowers! Especially now that I’m moving into new mediums beyond chalk art, I’ve loved experimenting with drawing and painting floral designs. I just finished up the 2017 L&V Holiday Collection and a big focus of that collection is pretty greenery!
I'm also inspired by subject matter that invokes nostalgia. A big philosophy of Lily & Val is to slow down in our technology-crazy world. The idea of creating something real and hand-crafted is so appealing and special to me. I am inspired by ordinary things as simple as sending a letter or connecting with someone over tea.
4. Do you have any tips/advice for anyone wanting to dive into chalk art, especially chalk floral art (like myself)? My biggest piece of advice for diving into chalk art illustrating is to embrace the imperfection and the dust! The dusty texture is what makes chalk art different from any other art form. I love how varying the vibrancy of the chalk can create florals with such dimension and texture. Since chalkboards are innately rustic, the imperfections give the pieces so much character and charm! Remove any pressure (it all erases) and just have fun playing!
5. What is the one question you are asked the most? The questions I get asked the most would probably be about the tools I use! Since it was happening so often I decided to create a “Chalk Lettering Tool Kit.” It includes all of my favorite supplies, plus a guide with how to use everything.
6. Anything new happening with Lily & Val you want to share? We are in preparation for National Stationery Show right now! There will be launching new products to wholesale customers that will be available retail very soon. I will give away one new product - loose recipe cards! We will have seven styles to choose from. Beyond Stationery Show, we have been busy with our brick and mortar store in Pittsburgh! We’ve had a lot of changes in the past 6 months with opening the store and having an office. It’s been a lot to learn, but I’m loving it!
7. Who is your favorite maker/creator at the moment? I am loving the work of Janet Hill! I have on of her paintings in my home and I’m constantly in awe of her stunning color palettes.
8. Describe yourself in three words. Passionate, creative, sentimental