illustrator + designer, may leong

Meet illustrator May Leong on

You’ve toured her Surry Hills studio, now meet the illustrator behind the art! We chatted to Miss May of May + Baz about her design inspirations and asked her to name a favourite from her own illustrations.

How long have you been working as an illustrator? I’ve been working as an illustrator since I came back from an epic one-year trip half way around the world in 2011. In all honesty, I came back very poor and thought to myself, ‘If no one is hiring me right now, why not start a studio?’ What at first seemed a bit crazy became my reality. Seal Design Studio was my first venture into design world, designing posters on Etsy. Last year, I started a new project called May + Baz, where I focused on stationery and eventually homeware goods.Meet illustrator May Leong on

Can you tell us a little about your style?
My style is a little whimsical, colourful with a dash of fun.

Did you study to do what you do or are you self-taught?
I’m a self-taught graphic designer, prior to having my education at COFA, UNSW, as an Environments and Object designer. I have no background in typography, and sometimes I still wonder how I made it all happen!

What lead you to work the way you do today?
I was a maker and a doer as a child. I used to pretend that I owned a greeting card store at home, selling my goods to my family. I loved it! Meet illustrator May Leong on

What inspires your work?
Design is also a means of storytelling for me. I’m inspired by the people I meet. My ‘work husband’, Stevie, says the craziest and funniest things that always get me inspired. And, not to forget, pop culture – Star Wars is the force behind the many projects I have.

What keeps you motivated creatively?
It’s the simple things that matter most. My tiny succulents. Wandering down the streets of Sydney, admiring terrace houses and picking up leaves. Drawing something new.

How much time a week do you dedicate to your work?
Practically every other day. Design is the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last when I go to bed. It’s true, I’m a workaholic.

Meet illustrator May Leong on

What does a typical work day involve for you?
First things first, checking my emails and online orders. Once the printing of posters are on their way, I would make myself a hot cup of tea and breakfast. From then on, I would multi-task between illustrations, Instagram (there is always time for Instagram), styling and blogging.

What are the most challenging parts of your job? Getting orders out on time. Every few days, I dedicate myself to a gruelling schedule of printing, packing and posting. Owning a creative business is the most rewarding and frustrating life I could ask for!

Meet illustrator May Leong on

Which other creatives and artists inspire you?
I adore Yokoo Gibraan and her quirky style. When I first saw her on Etsy, it was love at first sight. She knits beautiful scarves and beanies – they’re to die for.

What do you love most about being an illustrator?
The freedom to express myself and just be me. When I illustrate an artwork, it’s usually what I’m loving at the moment. Currently, kittens and berries are on top of that list. I’m grateful that I have the support of the community who loves and appreciates what I do. Meet illustrator May Leong on

What aspirations do you have for the future, and what would be your dream project?
My dream’s to have my own homeware and furniture store, and work on collaborations with like-minded artists and designers.

Do you have a favourite illustration of your own? 
“You Are Berry Cute”, because when I give it to a friend, and they say, “Aww, thanks May!” I cheekily reply, “You’re ‘berry’ welcome.”

What’s your number one piece of advice for other illustrators who are just getting started?
There’s no specific formula to success. Be true to yourself and never, ever give up. Believe in yourself, no matter what people might tell you otherwise. Encouragement and positivity will shine through your work.

31 year old May Leong is the Sydney-based illustrator and designer behind May + Baz. Visit her website and follow Miss May on Instagram.

Interview: Bron Bates/ Photographs: May + Baz