AOI Mentorship 2022: Introducing Poan Pan

The 2022 AOI Mentorship scheme is now fully underway! First introduced in 2020 and expanded in 2021, this free program is designed by the AOI to further support and guide under-represented illustrators in an intimate and supporting setting.

Young illustrator Poan Pan is one of 17 new mentees selected for this year’s edition, paired with mentor Ben the Illustrator. We learn how his mentorship is going so far and what he’s hoping to achieve in the months ahead.


Since graduating last July, I’ve been exploring how to survive as a freelance illustrator on my own. As a newborn taking first steps into this industry, I didn’t have many freelancer friends – which can make things a bit difficult in getting critique, checking if I’m on the right track or not. There are lots of online resources and events, which are really helpful, but I realised it’s also very important to network and connect with people in the creative industries.

I believe this is why the AOI Mentorship scheme is special. It feels like a university tutor with knowledge of the illustration world and also like a supporting friend.

I feel excited about the progression and development of my freelance career already. Ben and I focused on details making small adjustments, such as filtering the work on my portfolio website and a simplified reach-out letter which has made a huge difference. I started to get more email replies and some commissions as well. As I began with the direction of editorial illustration, we have discussed how to develop a long-term career with a structured plan.

Alongside the mentorship, I submitted to the World Illustration Awards which might not sound like an impressive achievement but feels like a milestone to me. It means I feel more confident about sharing my works with broader audiences and that I’m comfortable introducing myself as a freelance illustrator!

A structured, thought-through and practical ten or five-year plan helps me to continue developing my career.

In the following month, I hope that I will be able to grow the number of commissions I get. Finally, selling my print poster (which has been in my mind for quite a while) would be a great milestone too.


We’d like to thank Poan for his time in giving this interview. See more of his work on his website and Instagram.

Keep checking our Mentorship section to meet more 2022 mentees!

Learn more about the AOI Mentorship and our 2022 Mentors.

The AOI Mentorship scheme is one of many benefits offered by us. Find out more about membership today.


28th February 2022
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