This year, we were invited to partner with the creators of an inspiring new mentorship scheme into Children’s Publishing for diverse and underrepresented individuals. An unique scheme called “Pathways” was launched by House of Illustration Gallery and Pop Up Projects and sets out to support 30 young aspiring authors/illustrators in building practical skills for a career in the world of Children’s Book Illustration!
The 2019 Pathways programme sets out to support the artists through two invaluable years of information and guidance, starting in December. Each mentee applied and was selected at the beginning of this year, and have since been offered bursaries to support themselves during the scheme. A huge portion this overall project funding was received by the Arts Council, Lottery Funded, and backed by British Universities and Global Publishing houses.
The programme is in response to a stark BookTrust report, published earlier this year, highlighting that less than 2% of published children’s authors and illustrators in the UK are British people of colour. It also called attention to the lack of diversity in representation within characters in books.
Publisher Nosy Crow’s managing director Kate Wilson, on Pathways: “We’ve been struck by the scarcity of BAME and working class children’s authors and illustrators in the UK. It is clear that an initiative like Pathways could make significant progress in addressing this; by teaching a new generation the knowledge and skills necessary to develop long-term careers as authors and illustrators, and/or to enter the publishing workforce.”
The launch night hosted a panel of publishers affiliated in the scheme such as Bloomsbury, Ladybird and NoBrow in conversation with Author/ TV presenter (you may remember from Blue Peter) Konnie Huq, leading onto a riveting statement from Knights Of (an inclusive Publisher in the heart of Brixton) and personal words from House of Illustration spokesman and Pop Up Projects coordinators!
The new scheme incorporates seven strands of activities; group tuition, one-to-one mentoring, professional guidance, publishing briefs, showcasing opportunities, and real-world experiences in the industry including in-house publishing experience, and showcases at International festivals and British schools.
We spoke to new mentee and AOI Member, Chanté Timothy on the her thoughts on Pathways:
Hey Chanté! How did you hear about the scheme?
This year, I was on a panel for Black British Illustrators with Dapo Adeola (Illustrator), and Pan Macmillan (Publisher) and heard about this opportunity. Ibrahim Zanta (Pathways, Project Manager) briefly spoke to the audience and he was able to introduce the scheme to us.
What sold the scheme to me was the fact that it’s a part-time course suitable for those who work during the week and the fact that so many publishers and universities were on board. I’ll get to be in a community of BAME individuals and learn/improve new artistic techniques alongside learning the business side of the industry!
Can you tell us about your submission and why you think it was successful?
I am a black British Caribbean, Jamaican and Dominican. The organisers asked if I had studied Illustration in university, if I had any luck working with clients and if my work had ever been published.
Getting the attention of any publisher/art director has been a challenge for me and be able to talk directly with them, get feedback on what I should be doing to improve my work to be noticed. I feel I have a good understanding of the creative process and would be perfectly comfortable working with an art director but haven’t had much luck getting commissioned.
For the submission were asked to create a scene from a common fairy tale with a twist, I choose to create a modern-day red riding hood roaming the streets of London!
What are you most looking forward to learning through the experience?
The opportunity to work with the large list publishers, to get back into the university vibe getting advice from the leading illustration tutors of the UK, to work with industry professionals and there is also an opportunity to have a mentor and to be introduced to agents is what I am looking forward to most.
Thanks to Chanté for taking the time to answer our questions. You can see more of her work on Website / Twitter / Instagram
We’re going to check in with some of the mentees as they go and how the scheme will progress, with more top tips for aspiring illustrators from diverse backgrounds. For now, have a look at our ✨ five highlighted mentees ✨ as ones to watch in the scheme!