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Student stories: Emma Clements

Updated: Feb 7, 2022

Association Of Illustrators 2022 Mentee Emma Clements Level two BA (Hons) illustration student.

I first started with my BA (Hons) Illustration degree with OCA in November 2019. Back then I was at a stage in my life I felt something was missing and I was ready for something more. I had attended art collage in the early 2000s, yet my career beyond this ended up being in office administration. Once I had my second child the pressures of life and being deaf took hold. For my mental wellbeing and family, I became a stay-at-home mother of two.

I still wanted to do something, I had a small business painting jute bag and face painting. This got me back into being creative. I quickly found that I wanted to learn and grow and become a professional illustrator. Most of my life I have faced barriers as a deaf person, I was in mainstream school and it took all my energy just to keep up with my peers, never really learning, more mimicking. Doing my degree with OCA was the first time I could enjoy the learning process; it was a privilege I’ve never had before within education. So, I was really learning for the first time, I found my creative voice that I thought I had lost, even created my first book (voice) as one of my assignments. All this has healed so much of my mental scars. I started to believe again and for the first time I had hope. This resulted in me putting myself out there, making connections. One of the things I ended up doing is applying for the Association of Illustrators (AOI) 2022 mentorship I had already set up a website ( as one of my exercises, so I used that as my online portfolio. I sent a covering letter stating what I wanted from this, which mainly said I do not want to fall into the gaps again and lose my way. It was hard putting myself out there but, trust me it was completely worth it.

I am one of the 2022 AOI mentees.

Along with a few others I am one of the mentees that are underrepresented in the industry. As part of this mentorship scheme, I have online sessions with my mentor Caroline Thomson of Arena illustration (Co-Director), I have been given goals based on what I wish to achieve, and each session will help towards making it happen. I will be blogging about my experience on my website and AOI will also publish updates. It's not easy putting yourself out there, but by sharing my news of my mentorship I hope to show that things like this does happen.

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