For May Cruz, Bentley’s senior creative services manager, art is her world. It shows up in everything she does: from the art festivals she takes her kids to, to the colors she puts in her hair (more about that below) to the oil paintings she does in her spare time. Art is more than a job…it’s a way of life.
May initially went to school to be an accountant, but that quickly ended after one semester. She knew she was destined for a more creative career. After enrolling in art school in the Philippines, then continuing her education in the U.S. to focus on the software and technical elements of design, May worked her way up. She went from designing lapel pins in college to designing area rugs to joining Bentley’s product development team. Since 2008, May has been a major asset to the Bentley marketing team, mixing her understanding of product design with her artistic expression of the brand’s vision.
We asked May to give us a window into her world: what inspires her, how her surroundings and social media feed her creative cravings, and how she pulls those influences into her own craft.
- Where do you draw your creative inspiration? I love Los Angeles. I’ve lived here for about two-thirds of my life. I love the beat of the city; it’s energizing. I live t10 minutes from downtown, and on the weekends, I take my kids to music festivals, art festivals, dance parties, NPR events, new and interesting restaurants. The city is a melting pot of ethnicities. My neighbors are all artists and designers. We watch different areas of the city develop into more artistic vibes. I love the community. It’s not a box; it’s not cold. It has a very open approach that helps me embody the Bentley brand in my work aesthetically. I better understand the brand and our vibe by going out, exploring the city and being immersed in this culture.
- We hear you’re a graffiti aficionado. Tell us more. I started as an artist with oil painting. I miss getting my hands dirty and opening my water colors, but it’s hard to find the time, and everything is digital now.But I think my love for graffiti was an extension of my love for painting. Over the past 15 years, I’ve watched Los Angeles transform with graffiti, and I’ve watched graffiti artists become well-known and celebrated. Graffiti art is freeing: You start with a blank canvas and go for it with bold strokes and colors.
- What are your favorite artists and Instagram accounts to follow?
• Cache (CACHICKEN) – I love his sense of humor and style. The colorful chubby chickens are his signature. He paints in areas that are normally barren, bringing them back to life.
• Aaron De La Cruz – His style is technical, modern street art. His work is freehand, which blows my mind!
• Luis Seven Martins (L7M) – Martins is a European artist who combines realism and abstraction. His work is very kinetic. Like Cache, he also uses birds as his subject.
• Allison Tinati (Hueman) – I was drawn to her work due to her use of bold colors and juxtaposition of fragments of the human face. It’s beautiful, graceful and graphic.
- How would you describe your style, and how has it changed over the years?
My style was more on the edgy side, but as I’ve matured, my work has gotten tamer. It used to be much darker. But now, maturity and family have grounded me in a different way. I use vibrant colors and I like a more modern approach.
- What’s your best advice to other creatives out there looking to establish or strengthen their visual identity?
Try everything. You don’t know what works for you until you try it. Overcome that fear. Fear is what stops people from trying the possibilities.
- What’s something about you that would surprise Julian Road readers?
My gray hair is natural. It’s been this way for about six years, but I used to love dyeing it crazy colors. I’ve been brunette. I’ve been blonde. I’ve dyed it pink, blue, green and purple. You name it, I’ve had it.
You can follow May on Instagram @hellomaycruz