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In Conversation with artist Sora May

Sora May is a New Zealand-born Melbourne-based artist, textile designer and screen-printer who combines hand-drawn techniques with textile design.

Sora May’s work can be found at
Ink & Spindle, and online through the new Convent Made online shop.

What brought you to Abbotsford Convent and working at Ink & Spindle?

I’d been following Ink & Spindle for 5 years, on Instagram and everything while in New Zealand. I moved over to Melbourne and started working at a place when my workmate (Brittany Shemmeld) told me that I had to apply to Ink and Spindle. I was like, ‘Oh, Ink and Spindle?—they’re my dream people!”

In the interview, I was fangirling, I was so nervous, and they pretty much said, ‘you have the job!’

So, I am literally living out my dream!

Can you tell me about Ink & Spindle and why you’re a fan of their work?

Their work is very similar to what I want to do—meterage printing but with eco-friendly inks—having that whole ethos of a circular economy. Using everything (including their scraps) to make gorgeous and stunning things but also very practical. They’re creating beautiful designs, printing meterage and beautiful products.

What is your process of making? What inspires you in deciding what you’re going to make?

I get inspiration from everywhere.

Sometimes it randomly pops into my head, and I have to create it, or I’ll be doodling and really like what I’ve done. My process either has painting or screen printing in mind. 

I love creating and designing and turning something perceivable into something tangible and handheld. I love tactile things and being able to feel them on your body. That’s why, I think, I got into textiles.

Yes, you have stunning illustrations.


So, how did being an illustrator translate into designing patterns for screen printing?

I initially studied graphic design and fine arts, but I felt like something was missing. I didn’t want to be just a fine artist or just an illustrator. So, I just dropped out after a year because I couldn’t stand it anymore.

I went back home and started working for my mum at a café, and across the road, there was a man who came in every day, Adam. He owned a screen printing studio and told me I could come over and check it out. So, I did some work for him and then I was hooked. I loved it. Adam told me I should be doing textile design, and I was like… what’s that?! I didn’t even know what that was!

Printing onto fabric is such a beautiful mesh of being able to paint my illustrations and turn them into something. Something that is not only tactile but practical and brought to life.

So ever since then, I have been hooked on screen printing and love it.

What does sustainable, eco-friendly fashion and textiles mean to you? Why is it something that you’re passionate about?

The textile industry is one of the biggest producers of waste. Whether that’s water pollution through clothes dying or material waste in fast fashion. As a textile designer, I feel responsible and obligated to stop that practice and change that cycle and mind frame. I want to do my part and have as small an impact as possible on the earth for generations to come. Nature is where a lot of my inspiration comes from, so ensuring that it’s still there so other generations can be inspired is essential to me.

What is your favourite item available from the Convent Made online shop?

The Bees Tees.

They feel really nice, and the pattern was created when I was sitting outside in the garden doodling, and it suddenly came to me. The illustration’s little daisies and bees. The t-shirts represent spring with the yellow ochre colour as well.

When I look at them, it makes me happy.

I know that’s cheesy but, that’s why I like it!