Tablewear was founded in 2013 by Katy Lemay. Tablewear, tells a a story, illustrated on different media (kitchen aprons, doilies and earrings) embodying the lost identity of these intriguing characters. All Tablewear objects are manufactured in small batch runs, allowing new creations their moment in the sun before moving on to the next exciting idea.
Photo: © Katy Lemay - Tablewear
Katy developed a passion for illustration while taking her graphic design degree at the University of Quebec in Montreal. It was also during this period that she created her unique style, at once playful and simple.
Illustrator / collagiste for 20 years, she is also passionate about old Victorian photography, and enjoys placing characters from the past in surreal settings.
Katy was kind enough to let us into her world by answering a few questions for Chic & Basta.
C. & B. : Tell us about your work environment.
C. & B . : What made you decide that this was what you wanted to do for a living?
K. L. : I work at home. Before, my studio was in an open area, but now I have a closed room to create. Mother of three children, two of school age, I live at the rythm of the seasons. When holidaying, it is more difficult for me to work. Anyway, I try as much as possible to balance work and family, but my dream is definitely to have a workshop outside of the house.
K. L. : It's definitely the fun and freedom of creation. It was a great discovery for me to develop my technical illustration. Before that I did not foresee myself as an illustrator. I felt strongly when I left the university that I was willing to do anything to succeed in this field. Currently I have the same feeling for Tablewear.
C. & B . : How do you choose the materials with which you work?
K. L. : It's instinctive. It's really depending on the subject. For the apron series, I sought an indigo fabric to make the blue version, the colour of "blueprints", and I came across this beautiful charcoal grey cotton canvas. I am still looking for the next blue for my aprons.
C. & B . : Your creations have a very distinctive, playful aesthetics; what are your sources of inspiration?
K. L. : Definitely photography, vintage objects, books, and also cinema. Memories, time passing. II love to reflect about it and develop ideas.
C. & B . : Are there illustrators, designers who have inspired you?
C. & B . : What led you to make collages from illustrations?
K. L. : It's because I get no pleasure in drawing. For me it's a chore, so I found another way to illustrate and convey a message.
C. & B . : How did you come to the idea of creating jewelry and aprons?
K. L. : I've always enjoyed working manually; at the beginning of my career I designed 3D montages with objects. They were photographed in 4x5 and sent to customers by FEDEX. Then at an exhibition in a gallery, I decided to create broaches with little silver spoons. And from that came the name Tablewear.
C. & B . : Who are the characters that can be found on the aprons that you create?
K. L. : They are portraits of anonymous people I love to integrate into the Tablewear family and to my collections. They can be found also on platforms other than aprons; on earrings, bracelets, greeting cards, and even lace doilies.
C. & B . : Tell us also about your work as an illustrator
K. L. : I work as a freelancer for several magazines and newspapers, in Quebec, Canada, the US and some in Europe too. My clients here in Canada include the L'Actualité magazine, The Globe and Mail; in the United States my clients include The New York Times, Time magazine and Harper's.
C. & B . : What are your creative plans for next year?
K. L. : I am passionate about cooking, design, vintage objects and decoration, so my next projects are to develop decorative accessories for the kitchen and table. Right now, I am working on decoration articles for the house. I am influenced by the seasons; in the fall I was inspired by bees, and this spring everything marine is a source of inspiration for me; whales, octopuses, etc.
Photo: © Katy Lemay - Tablewear