Author Spotlight: An Interview with the Life of the Party, Valerie McKeehan


Meet the author and artist behind Life of Party Papercrafting, Valerie McKeehan

Valerie McKeehan is the Founder and Creative Director of Lily & Val, a Pittsburgh-based boutique stationery and lifestyle brand, and author of the new Life of Party Papercrafting book. Whether it’s a conversation over a cup of tea at Grandma’s table, a warm cake fresh from the oven, or a walk through her home city of Pittsburgh, Valerie uses inspiration from her everyday life and encourages others to tune into the simple pleasures of life to live creatively. Fox Chapel Publishing sat down with Valerie to talk about everything from her creative process to advice for building an artist’s social media following.

What led you to write this book?
I am a huge paper lover! I love that in this digital age, paper is something rare and special, especially when we’re talking about a card vs. a text. I lept at the opportunity to write such a unique book that celebrates paper and bringing people together. What could be better?

Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as an artist?
After I got married in 2012 I was looking for a hobby and I decided to draw a kitchen sign on a chalkboard. My husband posted a photo of the board to Facebook and I felt so encouraged by friends and family’s comments. It was then I decided to start lettering and drawing as a hobby, but I had no idea it would grow into a business! It’s still surreal to think about.

Life of Party Papercrafting

Life of the Party Papercrafting is an entire papercrafting kit in a book, and it’s a terrific value: Buying this many pieces of scrapbook paper, cards, etc. separately would cost more than twice the price of the book! Inside, you’ll find all these ready-to-use paper crafts:

  • 22 pretty cards & 25 handy tags
  • 24 classy place cards & 27 cute mini cards
  • 16 coasters, 16 napkin rings & 16 wine charms
  • 4 stylish menus & 9 sophisticated belly bands
  • 2 versatile envelope templates & 6 postcards
  • 16 pages of gorgeous two-sided scrapbook paper

Enter to win Valerie’s Life of Party Papercrafting Book! Simply enter your email below. Contest ends November 4, 2018.

How did you grow your business from Etsy to where you are now?

Etsy played a huge role in getting Lily & Val noticed. In those early days, I was fortunate to have been discovered by a few major companies who were interested in licensing my artwork as well as media outlets. I’ll never forget receiving that email from Good Housekeeping Magazine! Things snowballed from there and we decided to open our own shop at lilyandval.com and begin marketing the shop on social media. Increasing our product offerings from prints & cards to products like the Keepsake Kitchen Diary, also contributed to bringing Lily & Val to where it is today. We’ve made a lot of mistakes through the years when it comes to growth, but I am so proud of where we are now and our small team!

What other jobs have you done, other than being an author and business owner?

I have also worked as a restaurant server, retail sales clerk, and radio salesperson!

If you had to pick one artist that inspires you, who would it be and why?
I am inspired by Janet Hill. Her color palettes are so sophisticated yet fun and her creativity choosing subject matter just make me smile.

You have a large social media following. What advice do you have for other authors/artists looking to grow their audience?
Allow your audience to get to know you! There’s a lot of noise on social media and a lot of competition. Your biggest advantage is your personality, individual talent, and perspective you can bring to the world. There is no one just like you. Let your audience into your world a bit. Don’t be afraid to show your face on social media.

Can you tell us about your process of making your work?
Most of my drawings start with a pencil sketch or a very rough idea/layout. I don’t like to get too detailed with my pencil sketches though, because part of the fun happens in the spontaneity while drawing. I have a bit of a “ritual” before sitting down at my studio desk.  I always have a warm beverage, a lit candle, and a favorite podcast – never music. There’s something about listening to a podcast that distracts my critical brain when I’m drawing. I don’t know if there’s any science to back it up, but I definitely feel like I create more freely!

If you had to pick one design from your book, which one is your favorite and why? 
I love the flower-filled mugs from the Brunch set! Coffee & flowers are two of my favorite things.

Valerie’s Life of Party Papercrafting book is now available. Celebrate in style with this treasure trove of over 100 fun & festive paper crafts! Inside you’ll find tear-out coasters, postcards, menus, place cards, napkin rings, scrapbook paper, and more (all hand-drawn with love, of course)!

Your biggest advantage is your personality, individual talent and perspective you can bring to the world.

Valerie McKeehan

Other Book by Valerie McKeehan

Tree Craft - 35 rustic projects that bring the outdoors in

Christmas Papercrafting

It’s a holiday papercrafting kit in a book! This treasure trove of Christmas papercrafting includes 50 Christmas greeting cards, 16 holiday gift tags, 18 Yuletide mini cards, 6 festive bookmarks, large and small envelope templates, large format art frameables, 34 christmas scrapbook paper gallery.

The Little Book of Whittling

Chalk-Style Celebrations Coloring Book

All the beauty of coloring with chalk but without the mess! These 32 exuberant hand-drawn designs feature all of the charming imperfections of original chalkboard art. Use light-colored pencils and gel pens to personalize your work with lettering, flourishes, and patterning.

How did you grow your business from Etsy to where you are now?
Etsy played a huge role in getting Lily & Val noticed. In those early days, I was fortunate to have been discovered by a few major companies who were interested in licensing my artwork as well as media outlets. I’ll never forget receiving that email from Good Housekeeping Magazine! Things snowballed from there and we decided to open our own shop at lilyandval.com and begin marketing the shop on social media. Increasing our product offerings from prints & cards to products like the Keepsake Kitchen Diary, also contributed to bringing Lily & Val to where it is today. We’ve made a lot of mistakes through the years when it comes to growth, but I am so proud of where we are now and our small team!
What other jobs have you done, other than being an author and business owner?
I have also worked as a restaurant server, retail sales clerk, and radio salesperson!
If you had to pick one artist that inspires you, who would it be and why?
I am inspired by Janet Hill. Her color palettes are so sophisticated yet fun and her creativity choosing subject matter just make me smile.

Author Spotlight: An Interview with the Life of the Party, Valerie McKeehan


Meet the author and artist behind Life of Party Papercrafting, Valerie McKeehan

Valerie McKeehan is the Founder and Creative Director of Lily & Val, a Pittsburgh-based boutique stationery and lifestyle brand, and author of the new Life of Party Papercrafting book. Inspired by memories of days well-spent and the beauty of ordinary life, Valerie draws from her penchant for nostalgia to capture her whimsical and iconic designs. Whether it’s a conversation over a cup of tea at Grandma’s table, a warm cake fresh from the oven, or a walk through her home city of Pittsburgh, Valerie encourages others to tune into the simple pleasures of life and live creatively and passionately. Our team sat down with Valerie to talk about everything from her creative process to advice for building an artist’s social media following.

What led you to write this book?
I am a huge paper lover! I love that in this digital age, paper is something rare and special, especially when we’re talking about a card vs. a text. I lept at the opportunity to write such a unique book that celebrates paper and bringing people together. What could be better?

Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as an artist?
After I got married in 2012 I was looking for a hobby and I decided to draw a kitchen sign on a chalkboard. My husband posted a photo of the board to Facebook and I felt so encouraged by friends and family’s comments. It was then I decided to start lettering and drawing as a hobby, but I had no idea it would grow into a business! It’s still surreal to think about.

Life of Party Papercrafting

Life of the Party Papercrafting is an entire papercrafting kit in a book, and it’s a terrific value: Buying this many pieces of scrapbook paper, cards, etc. separately would cost more than twice the price of the book! Inside, you’ll find all these ready-to-use paper crafts:

  • 22 pretty cards & 25 handy tags
  • 24 classy place cards & 27 cute mini cards
  • 16 coasters, 16 napkin rings & 16 wine charms
  • 4 stylish menus & 9 sophisticated belly bands
  • 2 versatile envelope templates & 6 postcards
  • 16 pages of gorgeous two-sided scrapbook paper