Association of Illustrators (and similar)


New Member
Hi, I am not sure if this is exactly the correct place to post this, and I did do a quick search but couldn't find anything recent that was similar... mods, feel free to move or delete etc.

Basically, I have recently looked into and a few other associations, guilds etc. and wanted some first-hand advice on the benefits of joining. If anyone uses theaoi, do you regularly get work through it, or do you mainly benefit from their resources etc?

What are the best places to join?

I personally come from an art-based background but work as a graphic designer and illustrator. I have never joined a guild or association, but now feel like I am missing out on valuable information. Would you join more than one if you do more than one specific thing? i.e. would joining a graphic design and an illustration guild/association be beneficial? I'm just trying to figure out if I should join one. Any feedback would be appreciated.

Thanks :)


Well-Known Member
I've been doing this for many years and never felt the need to join any of them, mainly because of the costs involved. I would be surprised if you got work directly through membership with the AOI, it's more for things like
pricing and contract advice etc, but you can find most of that stuff online anyway. The closest I came to anything like that was advertising in Contact Creative, but you tend to be competing with the upper echelons of the illustrating world,
so you would have to be very good or have a very niche style maybe.


New Member
Thanks for the insight! Yeah, it is the cost that is putting me off. I have been a graphic designer for a while, but haven't concentrated on illustration. The more illustration projects I do, the more I think about what I should do, and if that involves being part of an organisation. But yeah, I think there are probably other areas I could invest the money first that would help more at the stage I'm at.

Thanks again for the insight.


Active Member
I have never really bothered with that sort of professional organisation, apart from the first year out of college, I joined the CSD at a discounted rate. Waste of money. Got nothing from it.

They seem to me nothing more than self-agrandising backslapping clubs. You get work, from being good, not from brown-nosing other people who’ve stumped up fairly hefty sums of money in the hope of rubbing shoulders with the great and good.

Emperor’s New Clothes, in my opinion.

Every time I have ever hired an illustrator for a project, I have never checked if they are a member of a professional,organisation. Are they good? Does their work suit the project at hand? Can they work to a deadline? Do they understand print production? The answers to those questions go a lot further than, whether or not they are member of the AOI.


Staff member
I've never had a membership so can't really talk about the pros and cons from experience.

I was a member of the AOI forum many years ago when they still had one though which was like this place but purely for Illustrators and it was free.
I never took full membership as I thought it was way too expensive for what it was.
There were a few things like contract advice that I thought could be helpful but nothing you couldn't get from the forum or internet which is why they may have closed it down?
They did offer a one to one portfolio critique with membership but you had to go down to London for that so not much use to me.

I do tend to agree with what Sprout said above though as it did seem to be a bit of an over priced club and all the people that sang its praises tended to be linked to it in some way.
I've seen other Illustrators talking about their AOI membership like it's some sort of achievement but to me, you may as well put that you have Netflix.
To me it seems a bit of a dinosaur from the times before the internet when Illustrators would pound the streets of London with a physical portfolio.

I have considered giving Hire An Illustrator a go as they actually promote you to potential clients amongst other things but maybe not for me as I don't really like to work in one style and it is a bit pricy.


Hi Gelous,
I have also a drawing and craft background and Graphic Designing is my passion. Just keep doing earnest work on your passion pouring your best efforts in it and there will be no lack of work orders. Infographics have become popular these days and graphic designing work is in high demand in this modern era.