AOI Mentorship Scheme 2023: Meet Kasey Albano

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.

Kasey Albano is an Illustrator based in Portland, Oregon (US), paired with mentor and illustrator Owen Davey. 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?

If I’m being completely honest, sometimes it still feels like a dream knowing that I’ve been granted the chance by the AOI to be mentored by Owen Davey, whose work and career I find to be so inspiring! I’m also grateful to be in the company of some very talented artists from all over the world. It is a joy to be able to grow and learn alongside them.

When I applied for the mentorship, I had recently lost my job as a graphic designer. Being laid off was a huge blow, but knowing that the AOI saw my potential as a creative gave me the encouragement I needed to forge a new path.

Over the last couple of months, I have landed a new job as an illustrator and junior animator, and have illustrated for a couple of new clients. I’ve also noticed a growth in self-confidence, whether it is in exploring new concepts that resonate with me, sharing my work online (which is one of the biggest mental hurdles Owen is advising me on), and seeking different creative opportunities.

I am in awe when I look back on this trajectory I’ve been on. If not for this amazing opportunity from the AOI and the advice I’ve received from Owen, I feel that many of these pieces would not have fallen into place. I’m happy to be where I am, and very excited to see what else is in store.

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

Owen’s been such a great support in helping me navigate some difficult situations. It’s been very reassuring to know that somebody as accomplished and talented as he is has experienced his own share of hurdles. He listens openly when I talk about my doubts and anxieties, and has also given me some encouraging nuggets of wisdom that I can turn to, especially when dealing with impostor’s syndrome.

Owen usually gives me homework to do for the next session, which keeps me accountable in working towards my goals, especially in developing my personal style. He’s given me a lot of inspiration and motivation to keep working on my craft and to carve out time for myself even during a busy work week to illustrate the things that bring me joy. I’m confident that with his guidance, I’ll soon reach my goal of finding my voice as an illustrator!

“I am in awe when I look back on this trajectory I’ve been on. If not for this amazing opportunity from the AOI and the advice I’ve received from Owen, I feel that many of these pieces would not have fallen into place. I’m happy to be where I am, and very excited to see what else is in store.”
Kasey Albano

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

One thing that has really struck me is the importance of enjoying the creative process. I realized (and perhaps this comes from years of working in a fast-paced agency where productivity was king) that I tend to zero in on the final piece without taking much time to enjoy experimentation. This time around, I’ve given myself more permission to play around and make mistakes. I’ve come to appreciate those serendipitous ‘a-ha!’ moments. They have led to some surprising results.

Being an illustrator can be stressful, especially with the pressure to produce and to meet our own personal expectations as well as our clients’ – after all, being creative is our bread and butter! – but I’ve learned it is so important to keep that sense of fun, levity, and curiosity. It is my hope that my work now reflects this newfound perspective!

Owen also reminded me that what we create is a reflection of what we consume. This has inspired me to become a life-long learner who seeks inspiration from even the most unexpected places.

I am so grateful for what I have learned thus far from the mentorship, and I am looking forward to what the next few months will bring!

“Many illustrators suffer from the all-too-common evil of imposter syndrome. It’s easy to look at social media posts and polished websites and think that everyone else is more talented than you, getting all the best work or seemingly finding the industry incredibly easy to navigate. In truth, most creators go through the exact same difficulties: self-doubt, client troubles and money worries.

I’ve found through teaching and mentoring that creators often need just a nudge here and there, a boost of confidence and a few notes from my own experiences. Kasey is no exception. She is an incredibly talented illustrator whose skills are developing incredibly fast and whose self-belief is growing through successes and barriers. I’m excited to continue working with her and can’t wait to see what she does next.”
Owen Davey, Mentor.

Thank you Kasey 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.

18th August 2023

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