Emily May’s illustrations are simply lovely and adorable in every way, with a sweet style that suits any kind of commercial brief. Having done work for ASOS, Urban Outfitters, Cath Kidston among many others whilst even helping redesign an entire PDSA shop in Leeds, she’s got an impressively full portfolio for someone who only graduated in 2010 (that’s from Leeds Met with first in Graphic Design).
My favourite pieces of her work have got to be her cat and dog print designs (the dog one you can see on the left here), which are intricate and cute in equal amounts. Her style is mainly based on her detailed line penwork, but she also uses a fair bit of digital colour to add variety and tone, which works very well.
She was also lovely enough to answer some quick questions for me, so here’s a little interview for you:
What part of your career or portfolio so far are you most proud of?
Supporting myself as a Freelance Illustrator for nearly 2 and a half years has been a massive achievement for me. Its a terrifying prospect for any young creative to come out of University and try to make it on their own in the real world. I’m proud of myself for having the guts and determination to stick it through and get to where I am now. In regards to my portfolio, though its pretty awesome seeing my illustrations printed in magazines or on peoples sweatshirts, I think I get more of an overwhelming sense of gratitude when I sell a print in my shop; knowing that a person wants to hang my drawing in their home is the loveliest feeling.
Do you have a dream commission, or do you simply enjoy the act of creating in general?
I don’t know if I have a dream commission really, I just love any work that comes my way where I can put my own creative twist on things. For anybody that has seen my work, its probably quite clear that I’m somewhat obsessed with animals and working for the PDSA was probably the most rewarding project I’ve ever done; so getting commissioned by the RSPCA or WWF would be beyond amazing. I could easily spend all hours of the day drawing kittens, so to avoid this I prefer working to a brief, that way I keep myself challenged.
All your animal drawings, but the cats in particular, have such a great sense of character- but are you a cat or a dog person?
I have 100% belief that my dogs love me more than anybody ever will in the whole entire world, and I also believe that the only reason my cat is rubbing up against my ankles right now is because he wants to be fed. But at the end of the day, I couldn’t live without either and I find them equally as hilarious with buckets of personality – and that’s what makes for a great drawing.
What does the immediate future hold for you and your work?
I’ve got a few things on my plate right now. I’m currently working on an illustration for Cath Kidston and I’m very excited for when that goes to print, and I’m also working on an animation project which is scary new territory for me but something I’m really enjoying.
And lastly: what or who is the biggest influence on your life and work?
If I had to choose one person it would be my granddad. I remember from a very young age sitting on his lap whilst he looked at my drawings and showed me how to improve them, I believe I have inherited his perfectionist ways. He worked at Gaumont British Animation as an animator and created the more than beautiful series ‘Animaland’. He is such a skilled illustrator and painter and he’ll forever be my biggest inspiration.