Introducing the AOI Mentees 2020

Introducing- the AOI mentees 2020! This year we are delighted to run our inaugural pilot mentorship scheme. With the generosity of Willa Gebbie, Cat O Neil, Dan Woodger and Laura Hughes offering their time to mentor emerging illustrators, we received a huge number of excellent applications and the four mentorships are now underway.

The mentorship scheme is entirely free for mentees and aimed at supporting illustrators who are underrepresented in the industry. Mentoring is a rewarding process for both sides, as our mentors are already finding!

Laura Hughes will mentor Hsin-Yi Yao.

Hsin-Yi is an artist illustrator from Taiwan, who graduated from Illustration Animation BA (Hons) at Kingston University London. Hsin-Yi’s digital work retains the charm of traditional materials and textures working in illustration, painting and children’s picture book illustration.

(Image: Cat in Venice HsinYi Yao)

HsinYi says “I hope to take this amazing opportunity to develop my picture book illustration skills and bring them to the next level. I would also like to improve my online self-promotion skills and gain confidence in negotiating and communicating with clients during the mentorship.”

Willa Gebbie will mentor Ngadi Smart.

Ngadi is a Sierra Leonean Illustrator and Visual Artist based between London,U.K. and Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Her illustrative work is usually motivated by the representation of people of colour, their varied, vibrant and broad cultures, strong women, as well as Feminism and gender roles. She aims to deconstruct mainstream society’s preconceived views of what the definitions of “normal”, “beautiful”, and “right” – especially in terms of identity, are”. She has had her work published in publications such as The Atlantic, Gay Times Magazine and and Reportagen Magazin.

(image: Real Friendz Side Eye Ngadi Smart)

Cat O Neil will mentor Rowena Sheehan.

Rowena is a 2D creative based in Bristol, UK. Originally a graduate of Psychology, she decided to change paths and retrain as an artist. Now, I find work mostly within the animation industry as a 2D creative. She says “With the mentoring and guidance from the brilliant Cat O’Neil, I am aiming to pave the way to becoming a successful illustrator not only for animation, but for editorial and publishing, too.”

(image: Chinese New Year Rowena Sheehan)

Dan Woodger will mentor Zhana Mitkova.

Zhana is a self-taught illustrator from Bulgaria. She is inspired by the ordinary and especially by plants, flowers, people, swimming pools and whatever’s nice and sunny. Zhana says “My illustrations are sometimes odd, often dreamy and almost always stress-melting.”

(image: August Jump Zhana Mitkova)

She goes on “With the help of a mentor and an experienced illustrator, I can work with a clearer view of the future that I am trying to achieve and the important things to focus on.”

The mentorship scheme is designed to fit around the needs of both mentor and mentee. Both agree the timeframe, goals and commitment required to make it work. There is a minimum requirement of six meetings, which can be done over six weeks or up to six months. Both mentor and mentee agree a basic contract at the first session and go from there.

If you are interested in being a mentor please contact Ren.


14th May 2020
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