Postcards & Commercial ArtBack to Artwork
From the early 1900s, May began contributing to various publications receiving assignments to illustrate for newspapers and publishing houses in London and Perth. May’s work was diverse, from fashion illustrations for the West Australian and Christmas covers for the Western Mail to cover designs and illustrations for leading UK suffragette journal The Common Cause. May also secured various commissions for book illustrations including the cover of Eleanor Mack’s novel Scribbling Sue. On her return form London, May maintained a steady livelihood with commissions from publishers such as The Sydney Mail and The Lone Hand.
At the onset of World War I, anxious to contribute to the war effort, May produced over 30 postcard designs that were sent in Red Cross parcels to the Australian troops. It was also around this time that May created her iconic gumleaf-shaped bookmarks which were originally hand-painted but demand necessitated moving to commercial print runs.
In 1920 May received one of her most important commissions from the NSW Department of Public Health to design a promotional poster for its first ever Baby Week. The ‘Dr Stork and Mrs Kookaburra’ poster was an immediate success and remained in use until 1959.