AOI Mentorship 2022: Introducing Annie McGee

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.

Cheshire-based illustrator Annie McGee (best known as Northern Bird Designs) is one of 17 new mentees selected for this year’s edition, paired with mentor and illustrator Dave Bain. 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?

This fantastic opportunity has enabled me to focus in on my love of creating illustrations for the arts and heritage sector, and my passion for storytelling. It’s been great to be able to talk to someone with experience in the illustration industry and raising a young family, the challenges that arise and how to put a plan of action in place to move me further towards my goals.

What has the mentorship been like so far

From the first chat with my mentor, Dave Bain, the mentorship has been great for working through issues that I was finding to be a stumbling block when it came to creativity, mainly my fluctuating health due to chronic illness, raising young children and family responsibilities.

I’m a multi-passionate creative, so with Dave’s support we’ve set a clear plan for the next six months:

  • To build a portfolio, working on the numerous projects that whirl around in my mind one at a time.
  • To set it all to a flexible timeline (which has been immensely helpful)

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

As someone with hidden disabilities I’ve been wanting to share my journey to help other creatives, by starting the Chronic Artist podcast and setting up a community space where I can share my strategies for staying creative during the most stressful of times.

The mentorship has been a great confidence boost for knowing I can achieve this, once I lay down the foundations of creating a portfolio and having systems (such as templates and checklists) in place to aid with the admin side of things.

I’m excited to see where this adventure in illustration will take me over the next six months and beyond, with support from my mentor and the AOI.


We’d like to thank Annie 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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