AOI Mentorship 2022: Introducing Melanie Smith

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.

Brighton-based illustrator Melanie Smith is one of 17 new mentees selected for this year’s edition, paired with mentor and illustrator Camille Medina. 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 part of the AOI Mentorship means that I have the support and encouragement I feel I need at this point in my career, and it is proving invaluable. To be a part of the other mentees’ journey and see how they are learning and growing is also such an important part of the programme. Learning from each other and our experiences is powerful stuff!

What has the mentorship been like so far?

It has been such a supportive experience so far and it’s really brilliant to work with Camille. She brings her knowledge and experience and is kind and generous with her feedback and advice. It is invaluable to have someone to help me look at my work from a more objective viewpoint, and who I can talk to openly about my insecurities around my work. 

Our conversations are sometimes part therapy session and part illustration chat! But in many ways, we are our work. Our work is an expression of who we are and how we see the world. So it’s really important to have emotional support and reassurance from a supportive network. It’s why the AOI is such an important organisation; It’s important that we can support one another and lift each other up so we can make our best work, and also have good mental health.

Camille is helping me focus on where I’m heading on my illustration journey, together with giving me a framework and goals to help me think about  tangible outcomes. This is also incredibly helpful and stops me procrastinating. I have someone who is in my corner and who is waiting for me to share the next goal with. To have someone to whom I am accountable at this stage in my career is really important. It helps me to keep going.

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

I hope to have gained more confidence in my work, to have narrowed which 2 or 3 industries I feel would be most suited to my style of illustration, and which industries excite me the most. And to feel able to share what I have learnt with others who may also be struggling with confidence issues, or lack of clarity on where they see their work and their career unfolding.

We’d like to thank Melanie 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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