The AOI’s 2023 Mentorship Scheme

Illustration (c) Dan Woodger

The AOI’s 2023 Mentorship Scheme is now closed for applications.
Thanks to everyone who applied!

The scheme is designed by illustrators, for illustrators and is coordinated by The AOI.  There is no cost.  Applications are open to all illustrators who are underrepresented in our industry. You do not need to be an AOI member to apply.

Our mentors include some agents who can support underrepresented illustrators, you can also apply if you are considering a career as an illustration agent.

We are delighted to introduce our wonderful mentors who are generously sharing their time and expertise with our community. Scroll down to meet them!

How it works

Mentees will have six sessions (online) with their mentor over a 3-6 month period.  In the first session you will agree a basic contract, including when you will meet, what you will achieve, and any challenges that you can identify.

Mentees are asked to set up to three goals to achieve during their mentorship. This might be developing a new technique or skills, getting more confident in negotiation, or working in a new area. They don’t have to be world changing- just game changing for you.

Mentees will be expected to work on agreed areas between meetings. You’ll have a task(s) set to go away and do before the next meeting.

At the end of the sessions, you will write a short report for the AOI, summarising your mentorship, and identifying your next steps.

PROMOTION: The AOI will share the great work of mentees on the website and social media platforms, offering valuable promotion to the industry.

PEER SUPPORT: We will also create a space for mentees to get to know each other, creating a network which can be helpful at the end of the scheme.

Keep up to date with our activities – subscribe to the AOI newsletter!

Read more about our 2022 Mentees.

Read more about our 2021 Mentees.

Read more about our 2020 Mentees.

Our 2023 Mentors are:

Ben the Illustrator

Ben O’Brien has been working in the creative industry for over 20 years initially in animation before becoming ‘Ben the Illustrator’ in 2005.  Ben’s bold, colourful work has been seen adorning train stations, wrapped around cars, on jigsaw puzzles and as Twitter emojis!  Ben is also known for his industry surveys working in partnership with bodies including the AOI and MailChimp to gather information from illustrators worldwide on their business, pricing, mental health and creative output.

Ben’s client list includes The Guardian, Fast Company, The Boston Globe, Twitter, Adobe and the NYC Department of Transport.

Camille Medina

Camille has been practising illustration professionally since 2014. During that time, she has worked both with and without an agent, in various industries including educational publishing, museums, and corporate, and had the privilege to work with a variety of clients including the BBC, Scholastic and English Heritage.

Although she would say that she is still learning and growing as she goes, she feels that she may be of some help in the areas of business & strategy, self-promotion (especially through Instagram), and mindset, especially those who are self-taught as she is self-taught myself.

Agent Mentor! Caroline Thomson

Caroline joined Arena Illustration Agency in 2001 and is a pivotal member of the team, becoming Co-Director in 2006. With a MA in Sequential Illustration from the University of Brighton and a BA from Norwich School of Arts, she spent over ten years working as a freelance illustrator providing illustrations for a variety of clients in book and magazine publishing, advertising and design. Caroline is passionate about re-investing her wealth of knowledge by providing best practice advice, lectures and portfolio surgeries to Illustration graduates.

Carina Lindmeier

Carina is a freelance illustrator from Austria. Specializing in digital illustration, her work is characterized by a contemporary and playful style, featuring layers of textures, vibrant patterns, and bold colors. With her unique style and passion for her craft, Carina has worked with big brands such as Adobe, Bombay Sapphire, or Penguin Random House. In addition, Carina is also passionate about sharing her passion and knowledge with others. She is always looking for opportunities to network and connect with people in the industry and has held several illustration workshops and community events. This not only showcases her dedication to her craft but also her desire to help others grow and develop their skills.

Claudine O’Sullivan

Now based in Glasgow after a decade in London, Irish artist Claudine O’Sullivan has gained industry spotlight for her distinctive hand drawn illustrations, featured in the worldwide Apple Pencil campaign, which won theWorld Illustration Awards Professional Advertising category. Her uniquely traditional drawing style has appealed to established brands such as Twitter, MTV, Island Records, WeTransfer, Tiger Beer and Derwent Pencils. Claudine has hosted a number of workshops and industry events with the Royal Academy of Arts, Cass Art, Apple and John Lewis.

Claudine graduated from University of the Arts London with a First Class Honours degree in Graphic Design. Her adaptable, design focused approach to art is reflected in the diversity of her commercial portfolio and client base.

Ollie Hirst 

“Ollie is an award-winning Conceptual Illustrator, based in Manchester, UK. Illustration makes him tick. Though it’s not the only thing that does. He’s a lifelong cardiac pacemaker patient. So, whilst he puts his heart into drawing, it gets help from time to time. He has a natural affinity to science, tech, health and the human experience and likes his work to hinge on a strong idea, diluting complex topics into digestible visual concepts, helped by a splash of colour.

Ollie’s illustration spans across editorial & advertising, working with the likes of New Scientist, The British Heart Foundation, WSJ, TED, Harvard Business Review, Genomics England, Boehringer Ingelheim, The Lancet, and has been recognised by The Association of Illustrators, The Directory of Illustration, Communication Arts, 3×3, The World Brand Design Society and The One Club for Creativity.”

Dave Bain

Dave Bain is a Bristol-based illustrator and muralist who loves inventing visual solutions using limited colour, stylised characters and dynamic composition. Professional highlights include transforming a 200m stretch of a children’s hospital corridor into a playful journey, illustrating the branding for a mental health festival and covering a well-known coffee shop on Camden High Street in mural artwork.

Dave has a heart for working with people and sharing knowledge about his illustration practice. He lectures, runs workshops, provides mentoring, curates exhibitions and hosts ‘PIP’ the Bristol AOI illustrator meet-up.

Jacqueline Colley

Jacqueline graduated with a degree in Graphic Design from Chelsea in 2008 and went on to work in the High street as a graphics and pattern designer for six years for clients including H&M and Oasis. A career move into freelance illustration six years ago has seen her creating explorable and playful illustration work across, product, packaging and editorial. She loves to work with typography and often explores themes around travel and curiosity! Clients include; Ohh Deer, Twitter UK, Derwent, Mollie Makes, Kate Spade, FLOW magazine, Great Ormond St Hospital and Refinery29.

Jenni Sparks

Jenni Sparks is an illustrator, designer, map maker, and typography designer. Originally from Somerset, England, she is based in East London where she has her studio. After creating her first illustrated map of London in 2012, she went on to create illustrations of New York, Paris, Berlin and San Francisco. Her detailed, informative and often humorous maps have been featured in international newspapers and publications and exhibited and sold as prints in several art galleries around the world. The London map has been used as part of tourist campaigns for the city, and even enlarged to cover the floor of London Gatwick Airport as a huge public artwork.

Since then she has continued to illustrate and has worked with clients such as Nike, Adidas, Carnaby St, BHV Paris, Grazia, Variety Magazine, Absolut, Lonely Planet, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Harper Collins and Sesame Street.

Laura Barrett

Laura Barrett

Laura Barrett is an illustrator based in South London, specialising in intricate silhouette illustrations and decorative monochrome patterns. Her clients include the BBC, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Taschen and Penguin Random House.

With 14 years of industry experience, Laura has worked with a variety of international clients within the fields of publishing, packaging, animation and large-scale illustrations for graphic installations and exhibitions.

She predominantly works in design and publishing; illustrating packaging, children’s picture books and book covers for all ages. Her illustrated books include The Snow Queen, The Little Mermaid, The Nativity and the Fairy Tale Revolution series.

Peter Phobia

Peter Phobia is a German illustrator, animator and skateboarder based in New York City.

His work is inspired by life in the big city and celebrates diverse personalities. A colourful universe full of dynamic characters living their best life.

Peter had the pleasure of collaborating with ad agencies and clients worldwide such as Amazon, Facebook, Coca Cola, Samsung, T-Mobile, JP Morgan Chase, Lufthansa, The New York Times, to name a few.

Laurindo Feliciano

Laurindo Feliciano  is a Brazilian contemporary artist, illustrator and art director living and working in France since 2003. Inspired by his own collection of vintage books, magazines, postcards and letters, he created a big amount of illustration works over the years, using different techniques as collage and digital painting. All his Illustrations and posters share a certain nostalgic flair and a great passion for surrealism.

Laurindo’s work has been published and exhibited in several countries and recognised in 2014 by the AOI in the Professional editorial category. Among his clients and collaborations: Netflix, Le Monde, Heineken, Universal Music, Musée des Arts Décoratifs/Paris, Victoria & Albert Museum, British Airways, WIRED, The Financial Times, Nestlé, The Wellcome Collection, Penguin Vintage, and many others.

Marcus Marritt

An illustrator and graphic artist living and working in Glasgow, my work is based on a minimal approach with a focus on light and shadow. A former Studio and Creative Services Director in agencies across the UK, Australia and New Zealand, Marcus has been working full time as an illustrator for 6 years.

Clients include UEFA, Fever-Tree, The FA, British GQ, Politico Europe, Aston Villa, WIRED, The Wall Street Journal, Chelsea FC, BT Sports, NPR, The Financial Times, Siemens, Truman’s Brewery, Arsenal FC, Barron’s, The Guardian … and more.

Matt Murphy

Matt Murphy is an award-winning, British illustrator based in Dorset, UK. Renowned for his conceptual approach, delicate textures and confident colour palettes, his work is full of mystery and meaning, leaving us wanting to find out more about the characters he depicts.

Matt is represented by Handsome Frank and his clients today include Johnnie Walker, Adele, The Guardian, Stella Artois, and Penguin Books. Matt’s engaging and thought-provoking work perfectly suits editorial and literary-based projects due to his ability to communicate conceptual ideas with intelligent simplicity. From his studio in Dorset, Matt combines his two loves: nature and music.

Agent Mentor! Matthew Shearer

Matthew Shearer is an Agent at Bernstein & Andriulli, looking after a roster of around 50 Illustrators, Animators, CGI Artists and Muralists from all over the world.

Since graduating from Cardiff School of Art & Design with a Degree in Printmaking, Matthew has spent his career in Artist Service, starting in Marketing at London Print Studio before working for years as the Membership Manager of the AOI. During this time he was able to advise Members on every possible type of commission, contract and situation, experience that was crucial to his next role as an Agent.

As an Agent, Matthew sources projects for his Roster from Clients all across the UK and EU, maintains those Client relationships and oversees the projects from commission to delivery.

Montana Forbes

Montana Forbes is a fashion, beauty and lifestyle illustrator of 17 years with a graphic design and fine art background. Inspired by the psychology of fashion and the narrative of individual style, she’s an expert in the field and is an (AOI) Association of Illustrators board member.

She collaborates and works on wide-ranging commissions from notable publications, high profile brands to international institutions with clients such as Condé Nast, Random House, Capital Records, Harrods, The BBC and The National Costume Museum in Berlin where some of her fashion illustrations are held as part of their permanent collection.

She is passionate about sustainable fashion and advocating diversity in illustration and the arts.

Owen Davey

Owen Davey is an award-winning Illustrator from the UK. He has worked with clients including Google, Facebook, Sony, Lego and National Geographic. He is the lead illustrator on the multi-award winning app Two Dots and has produced many picture books over the years, most notably the non-fiction ‘About’ series with Flying Eye Books, which began with ‘Mad About Monkeys’ in 2015. These books have been published in every continent except Antartica. He won Best of Show and two Silver Awards in the 3×3 Professional Show 2019.

Owens clients include Google / Facebook / Pottermore / Sony / AirBnB / Nobrow / TFL / Lego / The Guardian / New York Times / National Geographic / BBC / GQ / Walker Books / British Airways / Virgin / Orange / Guinness / Microsoft & many more …

Rachelle Panagarry

Professional Illustrator, and Lecturer in Illustration, Rachelle has a long background in the arts sector.

Rachelle’s illustration and artwork has been published worldwide with clients including;  Bloomsbury Publishing, NFER, Interweave Press, Stampington Studios and more.  Rachelle has previous experience as Creative Director and Artist Agent, focussing on representing illustrators and surface pattern designers and continues to offer mentoring services and portfolio reviews to recent graduates and established illustrators.  Rachelle is also the host of ‘Hand Drawn & Quartered’,  the AOI Meet Up group in Preston.

Willa Gebbie

Willa Gebbie is a Scottish watercolour illustrator based in London. Over her ten year freelance career, she has predominantly worked within luxury fashion, lifestyle and beautys; creating artwork for global brands including; Chanel, Cartier, Kate Spade and L’Occitane. Her highly crafted illustrations combine traditional watercolour with contemporary digital elements.

Agent Mentor! James Childs

James Childs is an Agent at Bernstein & Andriulli (B&A), where he represents a range of artists specialising in illustration, animation, CGI, and Mural art & specifically covers editorial, publishing, music, and community projects.

After graduating with a 1st Class Honours in BA Journalism, he worked in several roles until starting his own creative agency, which in turn then lead to him being hired by B&A London. He has a passion for diversity, representation, visual culture, cinema, music and constantly learning.

Agent Mentor! Amy Veried

Amy Veried is an Agent at B&A, looking after a roster of around 50 Illustrators, Animators, CGI artists and production companies from all over the world.

Since graduating from Manchester School of Art with a Degree in Illustration and Animation, Amy has spent her career looking after and helping artists. She is able to advise on all sectors where illustration and animation can be used, every possible type of commission and contract.

As an Agent, Amy loves working predominantly in advertising and seeing projects come to life out and about in the world.

Please contact [email protected] with any questions.

Keep up to date with our activities (including mentorships and opportunities) – subscribe to the AOI newsletter!