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  • Writer's pictureLeanne Coelho

Pathways Year 1 Round-up

The 2023-24 cohort has just finished the first year of our Pathways Into Children's Publishing programme!


It's been a year so full of incredible experiences from our weekly Friday and Saturday workshops, classes and info sessions to meeting art directors, agents and other industry professionals to completing literature briefs set by publishers and meeting fellow Pathways mentees and industry professionals at social events book-ending the year.


Looking back to July 2022, I applied to the Pathways Into Children's Publishing programme just a few days before the deadline date.


The application process involved writing an application letter explaining why I wanted to join the programme and what I wanted to achieve within the publishing industry, a number references vouching for my experience in illustration and to complete an artwork brief, which was to illustrate a classic fairy tale or to illustrate my own version of one.


We had to submit two sketches and one finished artwork using only three colours. I chose 'Jack and the Beanstalk' and wrote my own iteration of it called 'Jack and the Dream Stork'.


After making it through the initial application round, we moved on to applicant interviews via Zoom. On 1 September 2022 I got the email to say I'd been accepted onto the programme and was absolutely over the moon!


Application Artwork

The programme started in January with Foundation Week, an intensive week of back-to-back all day workshops, classes and info sessions.

I was in Disneyland this week with family from Australia, but managed to log on to a few sessions and caught up via the recordings the following week. You can read more about Foundation Week here.


Foundation Week


Once we'd completed Foundation Week, we moved onto Creative Phase 1. This stretched over a few months from Feb - April 2023, exploring creative and character development and introduced us to our first literature brief creating picture book characters working with Nosy Crow. You can read more about Creative Phase 1 here and literature brief 1 here.


Creative Phase 1


Literature Brief 1 - Nosy Crow

We moved on to Creative Phase 2 which took us from May - July and involved a number of professional development courses and masterclasses focussing on creating a sense of atmosphere and place and introduced us to literature brief 2 creating three spreads for a non-fiction book working with Bloomsbury. You can read more about Creative Phase 2 here including a breakdown of the classes and incredible tutors/publishing professionals we working with and my experience with Bloomsbury on literature brief 2 here.


Creative Phase 2


Literature Brief 2 - Bloomsbury

We moved into autumn and started Creative Phase 3 from August - October. This period of work introduced us to new fields of illustration work including non-fiction and graphic novels and we started work on literature brief 3 creating two picture book spreads working with Happy Yak (Quarto). you can read more about Creative Phase 3 here and literature brief 3 here.


Creative Phase 3


Literature Brief 3 - Quarto Publishing


The final stage in year one with Pathways was Creative Phase 4 which took us into the Christmas season and the new year from November - January focusing more publishing and production information and professional development, though we did do a fun session on paper cutting and collage.


This stage gave us the opportunity to meet with an agent for our first portfolio surgery. I met with Jodie Hodges from United Agents who was incredibly kind and helpful. She encouraged me to reach out to agents and publishers in the new year, which was brilliant to hear!


Pathways held an Autumn social at Quarto publishing headquarters which was a fantastic afternoon spent talking books, illustration and publishing. We started work on literature brief 4 creating a silent laparello book working with international publishers, Rotopol.


Pathways alumni were also given the opportunity to create an illustration on climate change for the Children for Change anthology featuring 50+ incredible illustrators work. Ten work by the Pathways alumni will be chosen to be published in the anthology. You can read more about Creative Phase 4 here, literature brief 4 here, the Autumn social here and the Children for Change anthology here.


Creative Phase 4



Literature Brief 4 - Rotopol


Climate Change Anthology Submission




It has been a whirlwind year full of professional and creative development, I am so grateful to everyone at Pathways for creating so many opportunities to speak to and work with so many incredible publishing professionals and to connect with other illustrators.


Over the course of 2023 with Pathways, this year's cohort has completed:


  • 1 Foundation Week to commence the programme

  • 14 Masterclasses

  • 9 Short Courses

  • 11 Professional Development sessions

  • A 1-2-1 Portfolio Review with an agent

  • 1 Launch Event, 2 social events (with AOI and Quarto)

  • 4 Literature Briefs (Nosy Crow, Bloomsbury, Quarto, International). Including 5 small group surgeries and 4 pieces of written feedback.

  • Approx 98 Industry professionals have been involved in delivering the programme so far!


Year two focusses on one-to-one mentoring, professional/business development and culminates in literature brief 5. Following such an incredible first year, I can't wait to see where year two takes us!

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