Meet NN Ambassador: Midlands-based Maker and Illustrator Rosie May

In 2020 we were delighted to help NN Contemporary tackle the challenges of delivering professional creative development during the pandemic.

Funded by SEMLEP, the NN Ambassadors programme introduced us to a cohort of talented new voices working across a range of disciplines.  And, as they prepare to take on the first new cohort of 2021 we’d like to bring some of that talent to your attention too.

In this introductory Q&A post we shine a spotlight on Northampton’s Rosie May, whose vivid and colourful work offers a fresh perspective on the potentially fleeting moments that could pass us by.

How would you describe yourself and your work? 

I am an Illustrator and Maker based in Northampton after graduating from Winchester School of Art in 2019. My painterly practice largely focuses on the joys of the everyday, from our interactions with nature to the simple contented moments of interpersonal relationships. Communicating through a naive, graphic visual language, I’m driven by my curiosity to always try to see the world around me with new eyes, to live in its liminal spaces and depict just how extraordinary the ordinary can be.

Why did you apply to be part of the ambassador programme?

After taking part in a community arts project with The Core Theatre in the summer of 2020, I wanted to learn more about the possibilities of using illustration as a tool for creative engagement and to connect communities. I found the experience so rewarding and it made me crave a more purposeful strand to my practice. Joining the NN Ambassador programme seemed like a great first step into expanding my knowledge and an invaluable opportunity to trial my skills in workshop provision.

What were the key things you got out of being an NN Ambassador? 

Being able to openly discuss my ambitions and explore new career possibilities in a supportive environment was hugely helpful in growing my confidence, and allowing myself to feel positive about a future in the field of illustration. Having access to a network of wildly varying and highly experienced arts professionals meant that I became aware of just how many routes I could take as a freelance practitioner, and I had the necessary advice on hand to work out how I could make it happen. I’ve learned a lot about planning engagement activities and how I could open up a pathway into providing workshops in the future, something I now have the self-belief to tackle.

How did it affect how you approach your work? 

I think it made me consider more widely how my work connects to others; if I am aiming towards a more participatory practice, then I need to create experiences that are relatable and offer something deeper to those who view or participate in them, be it a chance to learn something new, to change their perspective, or to have the freedom to express themselves through creativity without inhibition.

Where can people find out more about you and your work? 

Head over to my Instagram @ruza.may or my website, ruzamay.com for an insight into the work that I make. For a more in-depth overview of my practice, check out my interviews with It’s Nice That and Les Nouveaux Riches