Sometimes when it comes to finding your own creative path, it can pay to take the road less-travelled…
Traveller, designer, creative and professional dreamer May Leong is inspiring people ALL over the ‘gram with her super creative content, lovely lifestyle and quaint ‘n’ quirky Insta feed.
From drawing + dreaming as a child to selling her incredible artistic creations and building a creative community of 370k followers, we just had to find out how this lovely lady took her creative vision from pencil to passion to profession!
Everyone, say hello to @hellomissmay…
How did @hellomissmay come about?
I wanted to share what I love with the creative community. And I was lucky to find them (along with an audience) on Instagram!
Your art is so unique! What’s your creative background and how did you develop your current style?
I have a design background, but I realised throughout my career that there was something missing. Designing logos wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I decided to go back to basics – to when I was a kid. Since I knew how to hold a pencil, I drew every other day. Always something I love like plants and cute animals. Today, I love being able to express myself through my artwork and hopefully, I will be able to continue creating happy and colourful ones.
Where do you find inspiration for your creative work?
People and places. I used to travel a lot every couple of months, but ever since having Louis the cat, I want to spend more and more time with my little man. These days, I’ve been inspired by Louis and my indoor house plants. Spending more time at home, I’m currently all about cosy bedrooms filled with potted plants and books.
What’s the most important thing they don’t teach you in school?
That you can learn almost anything, without having to go to school! I found out that all I needed to learn about photography is buy a second hand camera, start clicking away and watch a Youtube tutorial whenever I’m having trouble achieving a shot.
Your Instagram feed is absolutely magical! Where do your ideas come from and what are your go-to ways of making your content sparkle?
I love looking at things from a fun perspective. If I can create something magical and fun, I’m all up for it. My ideas came from the things that I love – like oranges and daisies, which I shoot to look like giant wheels on my bicycle.
“I love looking at things from a fun perspective. If I can create something magical and fun, I’m all up for it. My ideas came from the things that I love – like oranges and daisies, which I shoot to look like giant wheels on my bicycle.”
Blogging, travelling, being creative, running an online store – has Instagram helped open up more creative opportunities for you?
Yes! Sometimes, I would wake up and be ever grateful for the opportunities that I was given. I still could not believe I went to an American Tourister press trip to meet Cristiano Ronaldo in Madrid. Now, that’s lucky – and I’m ever grateful.
Do you have any advice for those wanting to get a lil’ less digital and a bit more creative, arty and crafty?
I get ideas throughout the day and sketch them quickly on a piece of paper. Sometimes, I shoot them, sometimes, I will keep them for another day. My advice is to keep experimenting and playing with different elements, colours and materials. Nothing is right or wrong! You never really know what you’ll end up creating and that is the most exciting part.
“Keep experimenting and playing with different elements, colours and materials. Nothing is right or wrong! You never really know what you’ll end up creating and that is the most exciting part.”
What’s the biggest learning you’ve had from Instagram?
That what you see on Instagram is not necessarily the whole truth. I’m talking about all the beautiful and Instagrammable places that one sees, with barely anyone in the picture. I found out the hard way, arriving at the infamous Fontana di Trevi in Rome, in the late afternoon. To my surprise, the whole place was packed to the brim! My advice for those who love travel photography, waking up early is always a good idea.
Do you have any other creative projects on the go?
I sell my art and creations on my online store @byhellomissmay. And also, more plant illustrations! Other than that, I want to explore a little bit more in Sydney. I have lived here for more than 10 years, but there are still so many beautiful beaches and rock pools to discover.
What are your fave features, tips or tricks for upping your Insta-game? Tell us your secrets!
My fave feature is Boomerang, because it’s so fun! I love using Lightroom to bring my photography to life. Sometimes, I use the Mextures app, to give it a retro, nostalgic feel. I’m an 80s kid after all!
How did you turn your art from a passion into a career?
I did it out of love, and never thought this passion of mine would turn into a career. Let alone, anything. All I remembered when I first discovered flat lay and food photography, I was excited to shoot every other day. I was gifted many things, and then one day, I was asked what my rate was. That was when I realised, I’ve turned my passion into a career.
What’s your advice for overcoming self-doubt as a creative?
It happens to everyone, and I felt that way, many times before. I have my self-doubt as an artist and a creative, but I’ve learned that if I believe in my work, and I have worked hard to create it and am happy with it, at the end of the day that’s all that matters.
“My advice is, be you. The more you work on your craft, the better you get and you will find your style.”