What On Earth is Pathways and Why Does It Matter So Much?

The what, how and why of our brand-new talent development initiative for underrepresented children's book illustrators.


  • Education

We're super excited to be partnering with Pop-Up Projects to produce Pathways Into Children's Publishing... and we reckon you should get excited, too.

"But what is this Pathways thing?" we hear you ask. Here's what:

What is Pathways?

Pathways is a two-year programme specially crafted for illustrators, artists and designers from ethnic minority and disadvantaged backgrounds to kick-start their careers in children’s publishing.

Why is it needed?

Less than 2%.

That’s the number of published authors and illustrators in the UK who are people of colour.

If that’s not enough to make your jaw drop to the floor, here’s another statistic to make you wince: just 4% of British children’s books feature BAME characters.

In a country as diverse as ours, these numbers (from Book Trust Represents and UCL) are truly shocking. Our publishing industry needs to reflect our population, to harness the untapped talent of diverse authors and illustrators and to deliver children’s books that non-white kids can see themselves in.

Clearly things need shaking up, and that’s where Pathways comes in. It provides vital inroads for talented authors and illustrators from underrepresented backgrounds to achieve success in an industry that is still 98% white, and ensures that a greater number of young readers can see themselves in the books they read, rather than growing up feeling out-of-place.

Who’s it for and how does it work?

It’s a two-year talent development programme that anyone from a BAME or disadvantaged background can apply for – you just need to reside in the UK during the run of the programme and be 18 years or older by 2 September.

We don’t care about whether you hold a master’s degree in illustration or design, or are entirely self-taught. If you’re passionate and have interesting stories to tell, we want you!

And then what happens? What does the programme actually involve?

The programme is packed with courses and masterclasses covering topics ranging from animal illustration to sequential narratives, all designed to equip you to bring your stories to life. You’ll also learn tonnes about publishing through professional development days and opportunities to shadow industry insiders.

If that’s not enough, you will also be assigned literature briefs to create your own professional-quality picture books, which may be showcased in Bologna Children’s Book Fair and London Book Fair in 2021. Top briefs will also be sold in the House of Illustration shop, affiliated booksellers and online.

In other words, you’ll not only become a skilled illustrator with completed storybook projects – you’ll also have the know-how to thrive as an illustrator working in children’s publishing.

Who’s involved?

Pathways is produced and delivered by House of Illustration and Pop-Up Projects, with the support of 20 major publishing houses and universities. These include Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Simon and Schuster, Usborne Publishing, Anglia Ruskin University, UAL: Camberwell College of Arts, Nottingham Trent University and Manchester Metropolitan University – just to name a few. 

How do I apply?

Download the application pack now and get cracking! The deadline is 10am on 2 September. We can’t wait to see yours.

Stay up-to-date with all things Pathways by following it on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.