In leaving my four-year art ministry job in Taiwan, I've struggled to see who I am as a Christian and an artist. I used to be a Christian overseas missionary. Now I'm back in my home-town. I used to be a missionary artist. Now I'm a freelance illustrator. It was really nice to be able to live under the label "missionary" because I got to align myself with a group of people who had a clear goal to follow together. But now that I'm on my own, my vision is up to me!
I'm participating in the Artist Rise Up 5-Day Masterclass with Matt Tommey, and I thought I'd take this opportunity to blog out my thoughts that come out of the assignments and workbooks. The premise of the masterclass is to give vision and resources to Christian artists around the world, which is a subject that is close to my heart. So, here goes!
My Creative Expression:
Take a few minutes and briefly describe your current creative expression(s).
Right now I have a few different avenues I'm walking along. I am a freelance artist and illustrator, doing commissions for people. I've really enjoyed the learning curve as I've begun illustrating books for a couple of clients. In addition to this, I'm still doing art as ministry with a small team spread around the world - my first time doing long-distance collaboration. Beyond these two main agendas, I am sitting on a few personal projects that I'd love to take some time to accomplish - a personal webcomic as well as a few illustrated stories/graphic novels of my own.
My Creative Calling:
How are you using your creative expression to give back to God, minister to others, and/or to release God's nature to others?
I'm happy to say that the art ministry I'm participating in will be in service to a project to tell East Indians about the good news of God. But even though that's my more overtly ministerial work these days, I also see my regular art commissions as a subtle blessing to the world as well. It brings me a lot of joy if - through my being hired to illustrate someone's self-published book - I am able to bring life to a story that has been waiting to come out. It's not "Christian Art," but I believe that God likes it when we exert our gifts to lift someone else up. Perhaps that's why a lot of my own ideas and stories have taken a back-seat for a long time. It's become easier for me to join someone else's vision. But that's not really a bad thing, is it?
Overcoming My Current Barriers:
In what ways specifically have you felt your creativity and your calling as a Kingdom Creative have been under attack?
I often feel a barrier when I am going to share my work. What if people don't appreciate it as much as I think they should? What if my audience doesn't grow? What's the point? How could I ever become the kind of person who can keep a regular post schedule? Why do a blog post? It's probably too introspective anyway! How could this encourage anyone? No one would read it anyway.
Ugh. That was today's Slough of Despond, coming from me right to you!
My main barrier is that I do lack vision. I often wake up and think "what do I even have to do today? Nothing!" My long-term goals are foggy and vague, which makes it difficult for me to overcome present discouragements like the ones I just listed above. It's hard to get up in the morning with pep in your step when you feel like you've got nowhere to go.
What saying YES to my place in God's Army of Artists looks like to me:
God's given me some pretty specific gifts and talents (as he has for all people!). For me, I've got artistic talent with drawing and painting, I have experience working under other people, and I've got a passion to support other people's vision with my practical skills. I think I'm living out these positive things fairly well, and can projectively see Future Me continuing on along this vein.
However, I believe my own thoughts and ideas have been hindered by my own laziness. It's really hard to be your own boss and keep yourself accountable! There are stories I keep meaning to tell, but have never told yet. When will I be able to take up the mantle of my own artistic vision and carry it through to the end?
Through honing my time-management skills and getting new tools to create good schedules and sticking to them, I bet I could unleash a lot of what God's put in me to express. My inner hedonist doesn't like pushing hard into painful disciplines and exercises, but I betcha anything that if I say yes to that hard work, God will fill the newly acquired time with many beautiful things. My goal, then, is to learn how to make more of the time I've been given, and see what God plops in my lap!
I'm looking forward to pondering these things more as the Masterclass goes on! If you are interested in joining, it's totally free. You can register here: https://www.artistriseup.com/