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Ten things I learned from a year of mentoring a young person with Arts Emergency

In 2023, Sheffield-based Illustrator and designer Lisa Maltby, mentored a young person hoping to pursue a career as an illustrator. Here she shares what she's learned over the past 12 months whilst mentoring with us.
An illustration of a plant being watered with a watering can with 4 hands pruning the plant
Illustration by Lisa Maltby
  1. Listening to someone means you take what they say seriously and is far more effective than telling someone what you think they should do (which might not be right).

  2. You can learn just as much from someone early in their career as someone who is an ‘expert.’ We spent an afternoon in a comic book shop and I was blown away by my mentee’s knowledge of comic artists.

  3. I found the train journeys to Manchester through the Peak District were great for creative thinking. I deliberately got slow trains at off-peak hours so I could have a seat to myself and let my mind wander.

  4. It was refreshing to be around someone curious about creativity. When you’ve been in an industry for a while it’s easy to stick to known paths. It reminded me to always be a beginner.

  5. Some of my mentee’s work was as advanced as the work of a professional illustrator (if not better). It was a reminder that skill is only one small part of success as an illustrator.

  6. The Arts Emergency Network is such a simple but genius idea for sharing resources. If a young person needs access to a book, tickets, or advice about a niche topic, this goes out to the Network to see if someone can help.

  7. Having emails ignored by creative studios was a reminder of how hard it is to find experience when you're starting out. I was so grateful to those who helped (or those who replied honestly to say they couldn’t).

  8. I spent many hours in the huge Fred Aldous art shop, fooling myself that I could carry a load of art stuff home on the train (and then putting most of it back on the shelves). EVERY TIME.

  9. I’ve always got lost easily and was worried about doing open days and studio visits, but it was actually fun getting lost together and trying to figure things out. Maybe it helps people feel at ease when you are open about your struggles.

  10. Doing something through an organisation pushing for positive change makes you feel more hopeful about the future.

Find out more about Lisa here or follow her on Instagram.