Four ways to be a graphic artist and change the world

After a day of sitting at my computer working from home, I needed to get some fresh air. I took a short drive out to the country to one of my favorite farmers’ markets. It was one of those shopping trips where I needed nothing but it was oh-so-fun to look. Everything was making my mouth water, especially the Amish cheese. I made my selection (havarti) and as I was purchasing cayenne peanuts, the cashier and I struck up a conversation. Upon hearing about my profession serving nonprofits as a graphic artist, she became very interested and shared that she had been considering doing something similar for nonprofits. She had never met anyone who was actually doing it, so I gave her my card.

It occurred to me, there are probably a lot of people out there who would like to do the same thing but don’t know how! Since I was about 15 years old, I told God that what I wanted to do with my life was to serve churches and ministries by making websites and graphics. I told Him,

“I don’t care how much I make! I just want to serve you!”

Little did I know that my first “real” job after college would be doing just that.

So what are some ways to do good as a graphic artist?

1. Work on staff at a nonprofit.

This is probably one of the most obvious choices. There are many nonprofits who need in-house graphic designers, but depending on the size of the organization, that position would likely be combined with others. For example, at my current nonprofit, I’m the web developer, print publication designer, brand manager, social media expert, and the PR/marketing person. I’m all those things not because they are my “official” job description per se, but because those are the things that need to be done and no one else is doing them. Some days I get caught up in the mundane tasks, but I’m energized when I re-focus on the mission that brought me there in the first place.

2. Start your own graphic arts company and give discounts to nonprofits.

This is also a great option and is how Skylift is structured. If the a corporate career ladder is not for you and your personality (like mine) requires a philanthropic aspect to be fulfilled, the key is to stay focused on your mission even if your business is for-profit.

3. Create art in the exact moment the world needs it.

This is the kind of thing can’t usually be planned. A case in point is Jean Jullien, whom I wrote about here. There was no way for him to predict how meaningful his little sketch in response to the Paris attacks would become. He didn’t do it to get famous. Just by being himself and consistently creating, he gave the world an image to visually express her pain, solidarity and condolences.

4. Work at a for-profit company and shine your light in that environment.

Someone who comes to mind in this category is my friend Ranae. She is a talented, hard-working illustrator who wants to design characters for video games someday (as of last time I asked her). It is unlikely that she would find a position creating video games for nonprofits, though I’m sure it’s out there somewhere. She would more likely find herself either working in a for-profit company or starting her own company. Could she still change the world? I believe she can (and will). God wants to shine His light in all realms of society. As Ranae stays true to her faith in God and soaks in His love, she will influence those around her, ultimately having the potential to influence the whole video game industry and beyond.

What are some other ways that a graphic artist can change the world? Leave a comment!


I used to think I was stupid

While listening to a United Pursuit album in my car tonight, I had a flashback.

I remembered that I used to believe I was stupid. Growing up, I would argue with my family when they would tell me differently. I was convinced! I remember even in college I had remnants of that lie lingering.

I’m not sure when it left me completely, but I realized tonight that it’s been at least a couple of years since that thought even entered my mind.

So it made me want to ask this question:

What lie do you believe about yourself? Just because you believe it doesn’t make it true.


Performance Art + Dance + Inspiration

When I create, I often need silence.

Sometimes, however, I need great music. I’m a huge fan of Bethel Music‘s recent sequel to Without Words titled Synesthesia. Not only do the tracks swell with instrumental energy, they also allow me to subtly enter worship as the melodies allude to meaningful song lyrics.

Recently I posted about “imagineering” and the idea of trying new things instead of getting stuck in a rut. The Synesthesia videos are a great example. They combine beauty, dance, performance art and outrageous originality. Bravo Bethel.


I recently heard a message at AuSSM by Kris Vallotton in which he made this stunningly simple observation:

Solutions to the world’s problems are only a thought away.

It’s true. Someone just needs to dream big enough! The same goes for design problems and objectives. Many companies and organizations find themselves stuck in a rut because they feel uncomfortable trying something new. What if it fails? I understand the feeling. There are no guarantees. Unfortunately, that very fear of failure is what keeps us from the experimentation and discovery that provide new solutions. In the very least, they help keep life interesting!

I’m all for keeping life interesting.

Design problems may not be on the same scale as world hunger, HIV or human trafficking—although they are undoubtedly necessary for shedding light on those issues—but oftentimes creativity is the missing ingredient needed to help organizations succeed.