Monday, January 21, 2008

English teaching book

I am going away from Seth's tips for illustrators for a moment.

I have been thinking about this lately. When he was working as an English teacher in Japan, from 1995 through '98, Seth put together a book of some of his more successful and interesting lesson plans, full of his own artwork and suggestions to other English teachers in Japan, ways to make the classroom fun and to give the students a jumpstart to learning English on their own.

In his introduction, among other things Seth wrote the following:
"I do not, in fact, consider myself an English teacher by trade. I am an illustrator who took a small three year detour through Japan in my quest for personal and professional development. After three years of teaching English at a medium-sized rural Japanese high school, it was only a stern dedication to my craft that pulled me away from the fulfilling world of education."

That's the phrase that pulls me aside: "a stern dedication to my craft". Seth loved teaching. He loved his students and they loved him. But he was determined to be a comic book illustrator. That was his goal and nothing, not even something good and worthwhile, was going to lure him away from meeting his goal. He drew constantly while he was in Japan, illustrating booklets and T-shirts for the English camp that they had every year, doing editorial art, and in fact beginning the work on Happydale during that time. He also did a number of original drawings for this English teaching book.

I wonder if a person can make it as an artist without eventually developing a "stern dedication to his/her craft" that makes him decide to sacrifice other outlets in order to make time to draw or paint. There is certainly a place in the world for Sunday painters, but an Artist worth the title is one who puts other things aside and set his/her face toward the goal. True of artists, true of other vocations as well.
Tomorrow I'll say something about the above drawing.


bgudna said...

that is truly beautiful... and also takes alot of guts to do, quitting a steady job (that you like!) and going after your dream

j_ay said...

“an Artist worth the title”

I’m glad you phrased it like that. The term is more often than not abused and wrongfully given/earned.
Looking forward to hearing more about this book!

Vicki said...

To bgudna: Actually it was not EXACTLY like that: The job Seth had in a program that had a 3-year limit, and he was at the end of his 3 years. I am sure he could have found another teaching job if he had wanted to, but of course, it was drawing that he had his heart set on.

To Jay: Someday I will send this draft of a book to a publisher and see if it can see the light. Seth sent prototypes of it to a number of English teachers in Japan trying to get feedback from them, and maybe he made some changes based on those, but I don't really know.