The New Old-Fashioned Way

EscadaIn art and design, old always becomes new. We look back to former styles to gain inspiration for new pieces. This is a universally accepted practice in the creative world. It is okay to look back and see what great designers did before us and borrow from their inspiration and genius.

The images shown here were a part of a History of Art and Design course. Our mandate was to create a new advertisement based on an old style – to make the old new again.

Via Rail

In churches, we often see the old, and we often see the new, but rarely do we see them together. Some churches are stuck in the past with a rich history of art and tradition. They shy away from newfangled things like drums and fancy lights. Other churches run from the past and right into rock bands and arenas.

But is it okay to take a little of both?

To start of 2014, my church – like many others – participated in a fast. The purpose was to seek God in a more fervent way and push into breakthrough and revival. In the pursuit of revival, one can hardly stare ahead without looking back to see what God has done in years, decades and centuries past.

 

Grand Hotel

We look back to see great moves of the Holy Spirit late in the 19th century in New York and the United Kingdom, early in the 20th century in Australia, Wales and Los Angeles (Azuza Street), and even more recent in the mid-1990s in Pensacola, Florida and Toronto, Ontario. What did all of these awakenings have in common? The move of the Holy Spirit. What started the first revival way back in the book of Acts? The move of the Holy Spirit.

So, when we know what the cause of revival is, do so many Christians refuse to look back at the rich heritage of those who have gone before us? 

Let us begin to look back and learn from those who have truly seen God answer their prayers in amazing ways. If God is the same yesterday, today and forever, surely the next revival is bound to be found clinging to the coat tails of a great move of the Holy Spirit. The past is not something to be feared, but to be revered and respected, learned from and brought back into relevance by those bold enough to take their inspiration from it.

Seeds

ImageI have heard it said that there are no original ideas. That what we may consider something new and original is only a theme or variation of another existing idea. We takes seeds from a full blown thought and plant them to begin a new one.

If you plant an apple seed, is it considered the same tree from which the original apple came? or is it a new tree?

Every book hold the seeds of a thousand stories.

~ Jessica Hagy, writer

So here is my question: are we, as creatives, merely harvesting seeds of someone else’s idea, or are we taking those thoughts and recreating them into new, original works?

I choose to believe that there still are original ideas. We were, after all, created in God’s image and he is The Creator. Just because one idea sparks another doesn’t mean it’s not original. It just means it holds the same potential as that apple – an entire orchard full of apple trees that are heavy with more apples all with that same potential.

 

Sometimes you just need to show up.

admit-oneAs a creative person, I know what it is like to live in a moment of brilliant inspiration. When, in a flash of genius a fantastic idea pops into your head and you wonder where the heck it came from, but you are just too glad it arrived to question too much. You take that idea, shape it, guide it and, when it is fully formed, it is a wonder to behold.

I also know what it is like to live in the doldrums of creative block. There is nothing creative about you. Even breathing is boring. You turn to hanging upside down over your chair just to get a different perspective on your boring surroundings.

But what sparks creativity? How do you get that moment of brilliance in the midst of your complete and utter boredom?

Show up.

I am an expert at procrastination. I am so good at it, I wish I could make a career of it. But the problem with procrastination is, though I’m very good at it, there is nothing satisfying or fulfilling about it. You can avoid the blank page as much as you want, but it will always remain blank.

In order to overcome creative block, sometimes all you need is to show up. Try something. Draw something. Bang your head against a table. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I think the church is often guilty of this same procrastination. We go to church. We read our Bibles. We pray. But are we really there? Do we really show up?

Come near to God, and God will come near to you.

~ James 4:8

Like creatives who never put a pencil to paper to experience creative flow, how can we really expect to experience the flow of the Holy Spirit if we don’t show up? You might not have that overwhelming, bring-you-to-your-knees kind of experience right away if at all. But if you keep showing up, God is sure to come and meet you there. In fact, he promised that he would.

Let me try a bite first.

Elizabeth Jordan PortfolioIn my line of work, there is no shortage of people who just don’t understand the process or what they’re really paying for. Graphic design is not just a product. It is years of training, hours and hours of training the brain to think and react creatively, it’s concept development, hours staring at a blank piece of paper or computer screen (yes, this really is work). The final product is only a fraction of what design really is.

Too many times, I’ve seen people looking to hire, but refusing to even consider a designer who does not provide samples before any decision or payment is made.

“Please send mock ups.” 

“I will not hire people who can’t provide me with at least 3 ideas first.”

“Don’t bother applying if you want to be paid for the first round of work.”

To me, that’s like going to a fine restaurant and asking to sample half of the menu, but refusing to pay for it until you’ve made a solid decision on what you want. Or going to the grocery store and peeling every banana to check for bruises under the skin before you head to the checkout. Or going to a museum asking to see some of the exhibits to see if you’ll really like it before paying the entrance fee.

In most cases, people don’t expect something for nothing. So why do people expect it of designers?

Why do we expect it of God?

Do we ask God to prove himself in a certain task before we trust him completely? Or do we trust him implicitly based on his previous track record because we can see that he has proven himself over and over in his portfolio of previous work?

Open for Business

Image

When something good happens in your life, what’s the first thing you do? Do you act as though everything is normal? Like nothing has happened at all? Or do you call or text the first person who comes to your mind to share the good news?

On December 31, 2013, I opened up shop on Esty. For fear that people would think I’m just yet another to try and make a few extra bucks, I didn’t tell anyone. And you know what happened? Nothing. I didn’t have a single visitor to my new little shop.

I’ll admit that, many times, I’ve also done this with my faith. Jesus is the best thing in my life, but who am I telling about him? Am I keeping him to myself hoping something will miraculously happen or am I shouting it from the rooftop? I’ve been saved! I’ve been set free! I am loved! How will anyone ever know about this amazing person in our lives if we refuse to let anyone know.

Like my little shop, I made no difference to a single person until I told someone about it.

Go ahead. Make a difference. Tell someone.

For printable scriptures and original art, please visit my shop here.

Refund! Refund?

Refund

As a designer there is often a question as to what it is exactly that I provide. Am I in the goods industry? Am I in the service industry? Or both?

I recently had a client who got very confused about this. The job was offered to me and I accepted – why turn down work? After some mild confusion about what the client was actually asking for, I managed to get to work and was quite sure, after several hours spent on the piece, that the client was getting exactly what they were asking for. I was wrong.

A day or two later, out of the blue, the project was cancelled. Another day goes by and the client requests a refund from me saying he didn’t get what he wanted.

Refund? I sent a note back to the client kindly explaining that, first of all, he never paid me a single cent – there is nothing to refund and, two, I’d already spent several hours working on something that looked a heck of a lot like the images he said he liked. Even if I had been paid, I would not be inclined to refund for what he deemed to be a defective product.

What is the point in all this (other than a mildly amusing story)? It got me thinking. How often do we show God a picture of what we want and say “I want something just like this!”? You see something you want and you ask. And if you don’t get what you want, you ask God for a refund. For something else that suits your fancy.

Ask, and God will give it to you.

Search, and you will find.

Knock, and the door will be open for you.

~ Matthew 7:7

I’m quite certain that this is not what God is referring to in Matthew. I’ve learned that our relationship with God is much like a designer/client relationship. Communication is key. You are the ignorant client who sees the final product in his head, but has no idea how to convey that to the designer. God is the designer who knows how to get you the final product you need that, while it may or may not quite match up to what you have in your head, it will suit your needs better than you imagined!

At every available opportunity, I try to take the time to educate my clients. I let them in on my process. I tell them how the project will work start to finish. I ask for their input at certain stages. I give them choices to make. I ask them to put their trust in me as a trained professional and 99% of the time, the end result is better than what they imagined.

So why don’t we do this with God? Why do we make impossible demands on Him and then stomp off if we don’t get exactly what we want when we want it?

Then the man said to me, “Daniel, do not be afraid. Some time ago you decided to get understanding and to humble yourself before your God. Since that time God has listened to you, and I have come because of your prayers. But the prince of Persia has been fighting against me for twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the most important angels, came to help me, because I had been left there with the king of Persia.

~ Daniel 10:12-13

Could you imagine what this conversation might have looked like if Daniel had given up on day 2? That angel may have told Daniel to be very afraid after he’d been left fighting the prince of Persia with no end in sight. Here, though, Daniel took the time to get understanding. He knew what he was asking God for and was in a position where he could be heard.

Let’s stop asking God for refunds on our ignorant, selfish prayers and let’s start with getting understanding and putting ourselves in a position to be heard. And then, don’t give up! Just because you don’t get the result you wanted immediately, doesn’t mean the answer is not on the way.

I lost my permission slip.

ImageRemember those little slips of paper you used to cram in your backpack and painstakingly smooth out for your parents to sign just to you could go with your classmates to the skating rink? Someone needed to sign off so that you could do something you wanted to do.

How often do we go through our lives waiting for permission from the people around us to do the things we really want to do? I know I spent years waiting for something that has yet to happen. My life was on hold. I was in limbo – afraid to take a giant leap and do what I really wanted to do because someone may or may not agree with me. When I finally took that step, it wasn’t even of my own choice. It was more of a shove from behind from my parents (and I was long past the age that my parents should have had to be pushing me, but I am so grateful that they did). Now I have a diploma in a field of study that I love. Only that’s not the end of it.

A fancy piece of paper a gold seal, my name and a few unreadable signatures does not a new life make. There are still many areas in which I need to lose that permission slip and stop waiting for the approval of the people around me to do what needs to be done to get where I need to be. I need to stop worrying that I might have the same idea as someone else and if I do it, too, I’ll look like I’m a copycat, that my ideas aren’t good enough, that my skills and knowledge aren’t up to par. I need to start believing in the One who gave me my ideas, skills and the ability to learn.

You answer us in amazing ways, God our Savior ~ Psalm 65:5

It’s time that we all give up those old, wrinkled permissions slips and stop waiting for the people around us to qualify us to do what we already know God has called us to and allow Him to answer is in amazing ways.

In the beginning…

Image“In the beginning God created the sky and the earth.” ~ Genesis 1:1

Our very first glimpse of God, who He is, what He is all about is in the very first verse of the Bible. And the very first action recorded was of Him creating.

“So God created human beings in his image. In the image of God he created them. He created them male and female.” ~ Genesis 1:27

And once He was done with the rest of creation, He made us – the only beings on record to have been made in His image and likeness. So what does this mean?

Every kid who grows up in church learns Genesis 1:1 pretty early on. It’s one of those verses like John 3:16 that we just know and don’t ever remember not knowing it. The struggle with verses like that is that we often breeze past them without really grasping their meaning and getting a real revelation of what it means for us. Genesis 1:1 became revelation to me this week.

In the beginning God created. And then He made me to be like Him. I was made to create.

We often separate out creatives as a different species. They’re not really human. They’re a strange breed of highly-opinionated, hippie-dressing, unkempt, weirdos who are locked in back rooms never to emerge. But the truth of it is, we were all meant to be creatives.

If you’re not the creative type, this doesn’t mean that you have to go to art school and start painting abstract figures that you label as The Dawn or The Scale of Evasion. We all have some measure of creativity in us and that’s not necessarily in the area of fine arts. Maybe you are creative with numbers. You can balance an account like nobody’s business. That takes creativity! Maybe you’re a mom who stays at home with five kids all day every day. It takes creativity to make each day different than the last. No matter what it is you do, there is a hidden creative aspect to it. All you have to do is find out what that is and do it to the very best of your God-given ability.

Now, I know I am a creative. I am highly-opinionated, I dress weird, some days I don’t shower and most days I never leave my apartment. I recently heard a pastor I very much respect speak on the subject of creatives. One of the first verses he brought up was Genesis 1:1. Something inside of me welled up. That’s me. God made me to be like Him. He made me to create. Even though I’ve always known that I live on that fine edge of creativity that borders crazy, to hear this verse in that context was freeing. Not only can I create, I was made to do it.