French designer Jack Koch is a retired teacher, so he knows a thing or two about school. His Shop hit it on very well with the French market, and now he’s all set to conquer the rest of the world. Read about Jack’s success story in this month’s Spreadshirt Select interview.
The name of your Spreadshirt Shop translates to “Caution: School” – what’s it all about?
I was a teacher many years before becoming a full-time illustrator. My Shop is in line with my collection of drawings on the topic of school, and I’ve been actively fostering these on my social network channels. Next to looking at all types of school-related issues in a slightly tongue-in-cheek way, there are also a few somewhat more poetic drawings.
You got out of school in 2014. What made you quit your day job?
I was a teacher for 28 years. I devoted my life to art when illustrating became too important to be confined to my leisure time. Drawing is my life now, a new and different life. To me it’s as personally enriching as teaching, albeit in a different way. Since I’m a freelancer now, my income is not as stable and big as it used to be, so it’s sometimes not that easy to get by.
Do you think the French education system is a great track record or antieducational tragedy?
I don’t like the bureaucracy of the profession, everything is centered around absurd evaluation. This leaves little time to concern yourself with students on a more personal level. Affective empathy with students and fostering human relationships in classroom are just not desired. I loved building a relationship with my students – treating them as equals, having a fun time with them, making them sing, dance and draw!
Your “Caution: School” designs have a great appeal to the general public. How do you do it?
I’m currently trying to expand my horizon and move away from the school environment, little by little. My social network activities attract a lot of people, which helps with getting my designs off the ground. I link to my Shop so that I can divert quite a few people to see my products. It’s like a real Shop – the more traffic there is, the more people make a purchase.
Are you taking a more personal direction with your Shop now?
School remains my base, but I do not want to be the unofficial illustrator of national education! My poetic or funny drawings now co-exist with the school-themed stuff without necessarily making a connection with my old job. And that’s just fine.
Since you got out of teaching, what new sources of inspiration have you tapped?
I draw on topics like childhood, nature, love and those little snapshot moments in life. Ideas and projects are the only things I have no shortage of!
How do you promote your Shop and your products?
I advertise on social networks, especially with special campaigns. Also, every day I create a little teaser that I share on social networks. Photos customers send me work great for sharing as well. Paid marketing I have not yet attempted.
Why did you choose Spreadshirt?
Spreadshirt was recommended to me for its ease of use and straightforward Shop management. A lot of people asked me to offer my designs on commercial products, and running a Shop at Spreadshirt turned out to be a very good way to meet the needs.
Do you have a piece of advice for new Spreadshirt Partners?
Put work into your social networks, try to find a visual identity (even if I don’t think I have a very specific one myself), offer new products regularly.
What are your goals for the near future?
I haven’t set any goals for the Shop. I would like to redo a few designs in light of the very important Christmas season. I hope I’ll find the time! Then in autumn, I will release a comprehensive picture-book of my “Caution: School” designs. In 2018, there’ll be another picture-book with new drawings.
Thank you Jack! And the best of success for you!