Graphic Design and Religion: Beauty in our Message
The church has historically been known as an innovator in the arts, creating visual masterpieces, in addition to literature and the performing arts. However, today it seems the vast majority of innovators in visual arts come from the corporate world, creating stirring and iconic images to promote their messages and products. So why is the modern church a place where visual arts are often neglected, and graphic design, in particular, is severely underutilized? What is it that today’s corporate world understands about the beauty and usefulness of graphic design that the church doesn’t?
Daniel Darnell of EchoHub had the opportunity to talk with author Daniel Kantor about his book called “Graphic Design and Religion: A Call to Renewal.” Kantor was motivated to write his book by the “appalling state of religious communications media and the profound ugliness through which it is often conveyed.” While this may seem a somewhat harsh assessment, it would appear that the vast majority of churches reflect this in the way they approach visual arts in communicating with their congregations and communities. We are too easily satisfied with thrown together presentations that miss out on the opportunity to convey truth in a way that reaches beyond that of simple information.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that visual arts should supersede truth. A beautiful message without meaning conveys nothing of substance. It may evoke an emotional response, but without a foundation of truth, the message is empty. That being said, we, as believers, have an amazing truth
we are trying to convey, and God has endowed us with the capacity to appreciate and connect with beauty in a way that complements and enhances this truth.
Kantor describes graphic design as being, “content wrapped in efficient form that can communicate with immediacy,” which allows us to focus in on what is essential about our message, and makes it easier for others to interpret what is being said. Utilizing this to our best ability is an important way we can maximize the efficacy of our message and use everything at our disposal to reach a world that so desperately needs the gospel.
“How many people, inside and outside the worship community, are viewing any of your messages in any given week? Multiply that by months, years, decades and you’ll get a better sense of the opportunities that are being lost.”