AOI Mentorship Scheme 2023: Meet Jodie Smith

The 2023 AOI Mentorship scheme is fully underway, and we are proud to introduce and champion this year’s mentees in a new series of interviews. A free program first introduced in 2020, this initiative champions a select group of 22 underrepresented illustrators, empowering them with dedicated support and guidance in the course of six months.

Jodie Smith is an Illustrator based in East Yorkshire, UK, paired with mentor and Illustrator Camille Medina. Continue reading to learn how her mentorship is going so far, her key takeaways from the experience, and much more.

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

I feel so grateful to be one of 2023’s AOI mentees. To have such a valuable opportunity to receive support and advice from Camille, my mentor, has been wonderful so far.

I have always seen the AOI as ‘top notch’ illustration advice and tips, and to be able to get my very own bit of advice from such a wonderful diverse scheme makes me so excited and proud! I also recently joined as a member separate to this scheme and I’m already finding the resources SO useful. I would highly recommend membership to anyone at the start of their illustration careers especially, or even to anyone that needs refreshers in any info. 

How has the mentorship helped you tackle your goals? In what way(s) has your mentor supported you?

I think that having Camille as my mentor is kind of like having an accountability partner too. Although it doesn’t feel like I am pressured to complete an unmanageable amount of work, especially as I am a single mum to a toddler, so the time I do get to sit down and really focus on work and goals is quite small lately. And also I have days or even weeks at a time where I suffer a lot with low mood and extreme fatigue so my output can be very hit-and-miss.

To come away from each Zoom meeting with key points to work towards for the next session means that I don’t feel overwhelmed with endless possibilities and ideas like usual. Instead, it is more focused and this means that the time I do get to work on things is not wasted by “what if I try this or this or this”, etc. 

“Jodie is a talented illustrator with such a lovely style! I feel honoured to have the privilege to accompany her on this part of her journey, help her work towards her goals, and build the wings that will carry her to her dreams.”
– Camille Medina, AOI Mentor

Camille has already helped me ‘tune out the noise’ so to speak, and instead, I am able to put my mind (and hands) towards doing what I love best – drawing! I have really enjoyed getting back to basics and drawing with various mixed media techniques as I just love getting messy, and getting lost in the process, even if my time is sparse. I always come away from a drawing session feeling really motivated and excited. She is also great with helping me with my mindset too. 

“I am already creating work to build my children’s illustration portfolio, which is a really important goal of mine: To create work that feels truly authentic to me, that I feel happy with and proud of. And that is invaluable!”
– Jodie Smith

What has been a key moment or takeaway from the mentorship so far?

A few so far would be… 

1. It’s okay if your path changes slightly, if you change your mind.

Nothing is set in stone and sometimes it takes a bit of clarity to be able to really find what you want to do. For example, one of my goals was to work on a wholesale catalogue for Dolly Pepper Studio, but during my mentorship I have already ‘shut shop’ and changed directions in that I do not want to design products to sell myself anymore. I want to really try my best to get into illustrating for children, as this brings me the most joy.

Selling my own cards/wrap etc was actually quite stressful for me. I think working for other companies on a freelance capacity is the best thing for me at this moment in time. It seems like less of a risk financially when I already struggle within this department. And I actually feel quite brave to take the leap of closing Dolly Pepper and reassessing. It has helped so much to be able to talk this through with Camille, almost like having her by my side during this process! 

2. To not be put off if I don’t get replies from emails, to try again.

I can be terrible sometimes at replying to emails, and i’m sure businesses get inundated with them. We’re all human!

Thank you Jodie for taking the time to give us this interview. See more of her work on her website and instagram

Keep checking our Mentorship section to meet more mentees!

Learn more about the AOI Mentorship and our 2023 Mentors.

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

24th July 2023

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