People Who Puzzle: An interview with pro puzzler Claudia Tremblay of @puzzle_canopy
The puzzling community is full of passionate folk with a deep love for challenging the mind and putting beautiful pieces together.
One of those people is Claudia Tremblay (aka @Puzzle_Canopy), a puzzle enthusiast based in Quebec City. A lab technician by day, she’s committed to “conquering the world, one puzzle at a time.”
We’ve had the pleasure of sending her a few of our puzzles with her to try out. So we decided to catch up and chat about what she loves so much about puzzling.
Puzzle Lab: So, how did you get into puzzling?
Claudia: I started puzzling when I was about three or four years old. My mom says that I have always done puzzles. When I was young, I’d do them in the backyard. Mostly easier ones. But I always wanted to do harder ones.
PL: What inspired you to start Puzzle Canopy as a platform?
Claudia: About four years ago, I had a lot of friends on my Facebook who were a little bit bored of all my puzzling posts. So I decided to start an account just for puzzling and tell people to follow it if they were interested.
But pretty soon, I was overwhelmed because, all of a sudden, I got all these followers. Especially during the pandemic. I was lucky because I started my account before the pandemic before it was “cool” though, you know?
So I really started it four years ago but I didn’t really start doing it “professionally” until about two years ago.
PL: And did you see a big boost in popularity after the pandemic?
C: Oh, yes, yes. During the lockdown, it was like everyone was at home doing puzzles.
There were a lot of new brands during the pandemic, and I got a lot of new followers. A lot of brands also told me that there was a backorder and no puzzles on the shelves for a while.
PL: What do you love so much about puzzling?
C: You know, every puzzle is different and this is a big reason why I love it. A lot of people say to me that it’s “always the same thing.” But there are so many different puzzles and, as I tell my husband, every puzzle has a different mindset, you know? Every puzzle needs to be taken in a different way. I think that is the biggest reason why I love it.
We have to understand the puzzle. I know it sounds strange, but it’s true. For example, I made one of Puzzle Lab’s puzzles, one of your borderless puzzles. And I just found that it was so different. It was just an amazing idea because you had to approach the puzzle in a much different way.
PL: That's a beautiful way to look at it for sure.
C: Yeah. It’s a great hobby, but it’s more than that. It’s a way of thinking so I define my puzzling as more than just a hobby.
PL: Yeah! There are lots of mental health benefits too.
C: Yes, exactly. You can just put everything on pause and focus on the puzzle.
PL: Do you have a favourite Puzzle Lab puzzle?
C: I really love the Mandala. Because it’s a tough one, you know? At the beginning, I was like, “Okay a hundred pieces, no big deal...” But it was a really, really tough one.
And, also, some people say there is something good for the mind with mandalas in general. They’re soothing. So I think that it is the perfect mix.
PL: Do you have any other types of favourite puzzles? Is there a certain style you like best?
C: I'm a big fan of wooden puzzles. I love the puzzles that are more artsy. I'm not very into landscapes or stuff like that. So I love a spectrum or a mandala. I love gradients. I love contemporary art.
PL: Totally. We definitely try to have a variety like that at Puzzle Lab.
C: Yes! It’s the reason why I love these puzzles. And it’s cool to see a brand use a lot of art from Canadian artists. It’s different and artsy, which I love.
PL: Do you have any advice you would give other passionate puzzlers or aspiring puzzlers?
C: The biggest advice I can give people is to do it because of passion. A lot of people ask me, “How can I be a puzzler like you?” And I always tell them that when I started, it was because of passion, not to get free puzzles to review. I did it because I love puzzles.
PL: How long does it usually take you to do a puzzle?
C: Well, in competitions, we do thousand-piece puzzles in about two and a half hours. But I don’t like speed puzzling like that. I like to switch up the style and do different ones depending on my mood. I usually have four puzzles on my table at a time. Usually, they take about four or five hours for a thousand pieces.
PL: Can you describe your ideal puzzling atmosphere? Do you have any rituals you like to do? Or do you like to do it with a friend or with music or anything?
C: I think it depends on the day. I have a friend I love to puzzle with, the guy I do my speed competition with. We often do Saturday evening puzzling. I also love to puzzle while watching hockey.
I used to have my puzzling table in a separate room, but I got a little bored doing it alone. So now I have my puzzles on the kitchen table so I can watch hockey with my husband while I do them.
But sometimes I puzzle in the morning, sometimes at night when I can’t sleep. There are always puzzles haha.
PL: Do you have any big 2021 puzzle plans you’re looking forward to for the rest of the year?
C: Yes, right now I have maybe 70 puzzles on my shelf to do. I’m going to start my new big puzzle in a couple of weeks. It has 42,000 pieces. I also have one of your puzzles left! Downtown Funk. So that will be awesome.