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.
Viktoria Mladenovski is a North Macedonian-Luxembourgish Illustrator now based in Berlin, paired with mentor and Illustrator Carina Lindmeier. Continue reading to learn how their mentorship is going so far, their key takeaways from the experience, and much more.
What does being part of the AOI Mentorship mean to you?
It means being seen as a professional illustrator by other people within the industry. The AOI Mentorship has been such an incredible opportunity! It is helping me to further my career, to really take the time to develop my style, my folio and to expand my knowledge of what it means to be an illustrator.
The wonderful thing about the mentorship is that I am not alone on this adventure. Besides the brilliant support I get from my mentor Carina, I constantly get inspired by the other mentees and feel like I’m part of a community.
How has the mentorship helped you tackle your goals? In what way(s) has your mentor supported you?
As much as I love editorial, I feel an itching to explore the advertising and publishing world. Carina looked over my portfolio and gave me invaluable tips on how to cater my folio towards brands, ad agencies and publishers.
I have been working on self-initiated projects with her help. So far, I have designed the label for a wine bottle and am currently working on the advertising for a fashion brand which I love very much (that is all I can say so far, stay tuned!). Carina will take on the role of the art director for this project, which I am really excited about! That way I get hands-on experience without any pressure. My goal to expand my portfolio has really been a priority. And now, the only thing I have to do is to send my work out into the world and hope for the best.
Negotiating pricings and knowing my worth has perhaps been the biggest challenge so far. Carina helped me with real-life negotiations and with her expert knowledge, I was able to better understand how to price my services.
Creating illustration projects, especially within new areas that I haven’t explored yet, isn’t the easiest on your own. To me it’s so valuable to have someone I trust to share my work with. Showing new work to my mentor and getting feedback reassures me. I have gained a big chunk of confidence within my illustration work since the beginning of the mentorship.
Last but not least, Carina’s motivational speeches are the best (I don’t know how you do it, but after every chat I go out with more confidence, so thank you for that <3).
“The wonderful thing about the mentorship is that I am not alone on this adventure. Besides the brilliant support I get from my mentor Carina, I constantly get inspired by the other mentees and feel like I’m part of a community.”
– Viktoria Mladenovski
What has been a key moment or takeaway from the mentorship so far?
I feel valued as a self-taught illustrator and am getting a lot out of my one-to-one meetings with my mentor. Carina has been so generous with sharing her knowledge, and this has shown me that there are people out there who want to support you and connect with you in a genuine way.
Another pivotal takeaway is to learn to stand up for my rights as an illustrator. I deserve to be paid for my work accordingly and sometimes the fees can be so ridiculous that we shouldn’t be putting up with them. Negotiating is a normal step in the process of working with a client, and we have to ask for an appropriate fee for our precious time and skills. Not everyone can translate complex ideas into simple images or convey a brand visually the way that illustrators can.
Thank you Viktoria for taking the time to give us this interview. See more of their work on their 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.