Q: What do you do?
A: I do graphic design and art direction in LA. I mostly work in the fields of culture and arts, developing visual identities, publication design, art direction, and interaction design. But I must say that I enjoy print design a bit more, the challenges of type and the ways it can manifest into different visual narratives is something that I really enjoy doing.
Q: What does work/life balance mean for you?
A: Knowing when to stop really.
I have a habit of getting lost in my work and losing track of time. I often times find myself working with no end, always wanting to explore one more idea. Sometimes I’d even design in my sleep because I’d get so wrapped up in the work—the same way that mathematicians or physicists wrestle in their sleep over differential equations or some strange physical phenomenon—I’d do the same, except I’d be rearranging type and image until it was solved.
But I guess I’ve always been this way, even when I was a kid and I’m sure others can relate. Growing up, I’d always play basketball with my friends at church, so when we weren’t playing I was practicing, shooting free throws, and I wouldn’t stop unless I made 10 in a row. I was dedicated but very stubborn. And in my work, I do the same, I don’t stop unless I feel it’s in a good place. And though some aspects of this can be good, it can also lead to many imbalances.
Getting lost in work, in an idea, a technique, whatever it is really is a great drive to have in one’s work, but it can also wear you down. Understanding that there’s only so much you can do in a day has really helped me break up the work and create structure to my creative process, especially when my creative process is already so formative. So having a rigor, a set of rules that define my work is important to me, it helps me maintain a sense of order to the chaos, but I also dedicate time to reflect, to document, and to self-critique. I’ve learned it’s always better to be building upon your process, never retract from your process, so scheduling in breaks and time to reflect on the work can help sharpen your thinking which will make the work stronger. I try and consider the way that I design, my approach to design, my thinking around design—all of it, more as a lifestyle.
Q: What does being a Christian graphic designer mean to you?
A: It’s about breaking down stereotypes.
There’s definitely a much larger conversation that needs to happen just around this topic, and maybe I’m only touching the surface here, but there is a common concern for Christian Creatives today and what it means to be a Christian Graphic Designer, mainly dealing with the struggle of identifying with a title and the so-called popular, canonic qualities of work. For instance, placing Christian in the front of one’s professional title—Christian Graphic Designer, Christian Writer, Christian Filmmaker, etc.—shouldn’t matter in creative industries, nor should it typecast or limit the creative range, but sadly it is does and this is mainly due to mainstream culture and the way the public generalizes Christian Creatives. So in a lot of ways, it’s extremely difficult for creatives who are religious or have a religious background to find a place at the top tier of the creative pyramid stacked to the brim with many renowned creative studios, agencies, and individuals when there shouldn’t be any lines drawn between creative excellence at all. On the flip-side, there’s also a lot of creative opportunity for Christian Creatives and Christian content to equal out with popular design. Ways of achieving this is expanding our own creative knowledge and range, allowing for unexpected discoveries in unexpected places, taking on new interests and challenges that are unfamiliar, opening our fields of influences, and constantly pushing and testing the limits on what is expected and what is possible. Christian Design needs an attitude. It’s about rattling the cages, stirring up new challenges to reach new creative standards that can test and elevate Christian Design to begin breaking down creative stereotypes.
I have always positioned myself as a graphic designer who is Christian rather than a Christian Graphic Designer. And I say this without taking away from those who refer to themselves solely as Christian Creatives in the industry. The main reason is that I prefer to place more importance on the type of work that I do and the way in which I carry myself that says more—it’s with these type of actions that will have a greater impact on those around me than announcing or making known my own religious beliefs or background. And this by no means is me not making known that I’m a Christian in my field, it’s simply a matter of letting my actions speak for me. The faith you carry, the ethics, the values, all of this will naturally manifest its way into the work, the creative process and into the relationships with those around you—it’s embedded in the way we are. It’s about letting your light shine before others, and allowing the rest to follow naturally (Matthew 5:16). Aside from this, it’s also not just about having the confidence in your faith and interests and keeping with that one path, it’s allowing just enough flexibility among them and an openness to influences outside them to open up new creative challenges and to elevate one’s creative potential. Jeremiah 17:7—Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. In this same way, with the same confidence you have in your faith and in the LORD, have that same confidence to test your faith and your craft in new territories.
There are always going to be personal boundaries to the type of work one is willing to take on. Limits and lines can always be drawn, but I wouldn’t let that get in the way of expanding one’s knowledge in design and furthering one’s interests. So I wouldn’t discourage certain work because it doesn’t 100% align with your beliefs, that’s part of the challenge and also an opportunity to share and inform those around you.
Conducted by: Nicole Armstrong
Photography by: Mikey Tnasuttimonkol