Jō Adachi Proves “Everybody Can Draw”

Jō Adachi reflects on his philosophy as a teacher and artist.

Jō Adachi, the painting and drawing teacher at George School, creates as both a teacher and artist, educating with the mantra that everyone can develop the skills to be an artist with the right mindset and approach. Many of Jō’s students have gone on to have careers as artists and built the foundation of their creative process at George School.

Jō has a theory-based approach in his teaching that he is constantly working to refine and improve year after year. “I like to reverse-engineer whatever I am teaching. For example, if I am teaching a drawing project, I think about the result I want and work backward, breaking it down step by step,” Jō described. “I always try each of the assignments myself because it is easy to forget that some things might come easy to me or that I might miss a step while teaching. My goal in doing each assignment is to make sure I better convey methodology through my own experience.”

Jō has been an artist since elementary school. “I grew up in Japan and my friends and I drew a lot of anime. We would often have competitions for who could draw a character better. The summer between my junior and senior year is when I knew I wanted to be an artist. I did a summer program with the Art Institute of Chicago and took several drawing and painting classes. There I discovered that painting was what I wanted to do and where my painting career began. I went on to Notre Dame for my Bachelor of Fine Arts and School of Visual Arts for my Master of Fine Arts with a concentration in painting.”

Through his formative years, Jō began to develop his style as an artist. He describes himself as a figurative painter. “My main interest is painting people and trying to tell a story through my work with some occasional symbolism about things personal to me or about the world,” said Jō. “I try to make it subtle because I want everyone to see a piece and enjoy it in their own way.

To Jō, art is a matter of mindset. “If you are only willing to put in five minutes, you will get a stick figure. If you are willing to learn and do some research and try different techniques, you can be an artist. I believe, with willingness, I can teach anybody,” Jō described. “I do not like to use the phrase ‘talented’ when it comes to art. Art, like sports or any profession, takes work and practice to be creative and build a skillset. It does not just happen in a vacuum. People that are skilled have put in a lot of practice and time developing their creativity. If I learn something that is exciting to me, I bring it into the classroom. If I learn something in the classroom, it comes into my work.”

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