Jack Potter's philosophy on teaching: “You simply have to give.”

By guest author Daniel Zalkus

Jack always approached an illustration job by drawing from a model. He’d hire models, draw them, and then find the appropriate reference to use for the background.


Jack's personal reference file was minimal so he would frequently spend entire days at the public library, hunting for the perfect piece of picture reference.


During that era in New York, there were many architectural firms who were capable of producing 'photostats'. Personal computers, Photoshop and even Kinko’s were still decades in the future. Jack would take his drawings to the architectural firms to get copied onto acetate and later paint underneath. Occasionally he’d skip that process all together and paint right on top of them, whatever he felt was right for the specific assignment.


Over time the business started to wear on him. His campaign for Coca-Cola demanded a lot out of him, requiring constant modification. Being so passionate and diligent about his work, Jack was exhausted by it. At the height of his career, he decided to quit and leave it all behind. He sold all his originals and moved to France.


A bit extreme, perhaps, but that was Jack being Jack. In his work and life he was never moderate.


After a year he moved back to NY where he continued teaching at SVA. He no longer pursued illustration work; he would often tell his students, “All I have to worry about is YOU.” He focused all of his energy on teaching.


A friend told me about a conversation she once had with Jack. They were on the phone, talking about a new teaching gig she had just started. It was difficult and the students demanded a lot out of her. Jack replied, “You simply have to give.”

Continued tomorrow...

* Daniel Zalkus is a freelance illustrator, graduate of the School of Visual Arts and loves to wear plaid. To see samples of his artwork please go to www.zalkus.com

* My Jack Potter Flickr set

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