Education and Solidarity Network

An interview with Jack Koch, former teacher and illustrator

Education and Solidarity Network
May 11, 2018

Hi Jack, could you start by introducing yourself?

Hi, I’m Jack Koch, I’m 54 years old…I’m from Alsace and I was a teacher for 28 years. I have been an illustrator for 5 years since stepping down from National Education.

How did you become an illustrator?

Actually, I have always drawn ever since I was a young child…it was my hobby, I always loved it. I also used to draw a lot for my pupils in the classroom and also for my colleagues in the schools where I worked. The drawings ended up on the boards in teacher’s rooms, classrooms, corridors…I drew everything! 10 years ago, I published a series of drawings that I had completed on my job as a teacher which I published on a blog. Little by little, through word-of-mouth and social networks, they reached a wider audience. Up until 6 or 7 years ago, I had two jobs side by side, illustration and teaching, and I had to choose.

Were you therefore inspired to a large extent by your experience as a teacher?

In fact, the first four illustration albums that I published were only collections of my life as a teacher, my life with the pupils, my colleagues, the pupils’ parents, my job…

Therefore, of course, it did largely inspire me. Now I’m no longer at the school. Current affairs also inspire me a great deal, moreover in the next few days an album will be released that compiles my drawings of current affairs over the last two years. And then, there are also drawings that are more poetic, with a magical side, and love…But poetry was already in my other drawings, even during the school years…

How would you define your style?

I have a drawing technique that is extremely simple, that is very clear. I owe this to the education system as when we draw for children, we try to make ourselves understood in the best possible way and I think my drawings have this quality. When I stepped down from National Education, I told myself that I would have a few lessons to develop my technique. My fellow illustrators dissuaded me from taking lessons precisely in order not to lose this characteristic…this clarity. I avoid anything that may harm the communication. Because actually, doing a drawing involves communicating, describing and saying something. Therefore, if there is any doubt, if there is too much detail, perhaps even too much technique, this can be harmful.

You have worked with the ESN as part of the international campaign “Education workers mobilise for Health for All” in December 2017…Why did you agree to take part in this project?

Well, there are projects which interest me…Obviously, anything that slightly involves education interests me more and then after, there are also other propositions that I am required to accept because that is my job.

Give me one word on the health of teachers?

 The health of teachers? Nobody cares! I’ve had no medical examination throughout my career as a teacher in 28 years…When you’re a teacher, this never happens…As a result, we are a profession that takes care of our health “all alone” to some extent…We all pay attention to our eyes, glasses, we go to the dentist…I don’t think it is just about the physical health of the teacher, but there is also the moral and mental health, and more to take into consideration. I think that we are one of the populations that are rather well monitored in France. It is because we respond to this and because we are in a professional category that has the means to take care of ourselves…that certain people don’t have. However, National Education has never been concerned about knowing if I was physically or mentally well…

What future projects do you have?

In the next few days, an album will be released which compiles my drawings of current affairs published on social networks over the last two years and in November 2018, a collection will be released on love, the result of a collaboration with 200 French and foreign authors who each gave me their definition of love which I have illustrated. Everybody gave their words, phrases and they were all very different. I really enjoyed illustrating the words of others that made me draw things that I would not have done with my own words…

To end, do you have a message that you would like to pass on to our readers?

Tell the teachers that you see or meet up with, to do little but do it well….It is a colleague who said that. We (the teachers) are increasingly overwhelmed by paperwork, texts, by things that are not useful. But giving a lesson and doing little but doing it well is useful. We can never do everything, it’s impossible. Hovering over things is not good and we need to do what we love. Me naturally, and my pupils have drawn and do more art and painting than is required…but they do it with me as I know how and I love to do it. My pupils have done a lot less sport than with other teachers because I don’t really like teaching sport, in which I am not naturally gifted, and therefore we need to do what we love and then do little, but do it well.

Facebook: Jack Koch

Twitter: @Jackkochdessin

Instagram: jackkochdessin


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