AOI Mentorship 2022: Introducing Abisola Solola

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.

Nottingham-based illustrator Abisola Solola is one of 17 new mentees selected for this year’s edition, paired with mentor and illustration agent Ryan Claydon from JSR Agency. We learn how her mentorship is going so far and what she’s hoping to achieve in the months ahead.


What does being part of the AOI Mentorship mean to you?

Being a part of the AOI Mentorship feels awesome! Knowing that there are people out there willing to invest in my journey and growth is comforting and encourages me to keep reaching out and searching for those opportunities. It’s great having a mentor with the knowledge and experience in agency to help align my goals with the career path I want.

Ryan has been so helpful in identifying my strengths and giving practical advice on how to improve the weaker parts of my work to make it more suitable for editorial commissions, and ensuring my passion for diversity is reflected in my children’s illustrations and stories. I have the right mentor and I look forward to seeing what we achieve over the course of the mentorship!

What has the mentorship been like so far?

I’m enjoying it so far, I’ve had two proper sessions and have gotten a lot from them. During the first session we reviewed my portfolio and discussed the goals I’d like to achieve by the end of the mentorship and we set some actions to incorporate more light and shadow into my existing work and start putting together a list of potential clients I’d like to pitch my work to; we reviewed these in the following session. I do have moments where I feel behind and insecure about my work as I’m still very early in my art career. Pretty much everything I’ve learnt so far has been self taught, so it’s very easy to compare my journey to others and to also criticise my skills a lot more. But with the help of my mentor Ryan, I’m learning to appreciate my unique journey and knowing that I’m starting with a great platform like the AOI mentorship gives me a solid foundation and reassures me that I can achieve anything I put my mind to. 

What do you hope to accomplish by the end of the mentorship?

By the end of the mentorship I hope to feel more confident in myself and as an artist, to be able to share more of my work, to clients and enter competitions. I’ll have improved my skills in urban sketching, light and shadow, character development and children’s illustrations, all of which will give me a solid portfolio with illustrations that have a lot more depth and character.

I also hope to have a children’s colouring book designed and ready to help me raise money for my upcoming volunteering trip to Uganda in the summer, where I’ll be helping children build a playground. Overall I’ll be proud of my achievements no matter how much I’ve done – as long I can see progress in the right direction I’ll be content!


We’d like to thank Abisola for her time in giving this interview. See more of her work on her 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.


4th March 2022
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