Creative Design Poverty



This December the ministry I work for is hosting our annual young-adult conference. Last year we had 15,000 show up to our “living room”. This year we’re expecting 20,000, and it’s an all-hands-on-deck event to say the least. Every department is working at 110% to get their end of things ready.

For the past few years I have been the stage manager. Which means I make sure weird people don’t go on stage in their underwear with “I Heart God” written on their chest. It’s times like those that having a black belt comes in handy – which is why I was chosen for the job to begin with.

But this year stage managing isn’t my only job. Since I now work for the marketing department as a print designer I have an additional role this year. I’ve dubbed it “Official Creator of All Advertisements For the Conference Magazine”. Whereby “Conference Magazine” I’m talking about a 76 page booklet called the “Communicator”. It has all the information that could possibly be interesting to any one of the 20,000 college age folks attending our 4 day conference. Things like schedules, interviews, frequently asked questions, products for sale and how to grow a chia pet.

Needless to say, the past few weeks have been busy for all of us in the marketing department as we pull together information and feedback from all the departments and try to sort it into an intelligent, cohesive product.

But it has also been challenging to me in a unique way. The 16ish pages I’m in charge of consist of the advertisements for various departments around the ministry. For instance the high school ministry is hosting a conference next summer, so they need an ad. There is a new book out that the bookstore wants to sell. A new CD. A new teaching series. Etc… Each of these products and events need special treatment and some TLC while staying within the design style guidelines. My strong distaste for the “that’ll do” status-quo has forced me to think outside the box. And I have to admit that I don’t feel I have designed at a level I feel proud of.

Having to work on several simultaneous projects all with a short deadline and strict guidelines brought me to a new realization of my poverty in creativity and imagination. Programs do not a designer make.

The creative arts are a beautiful thing. With them we can share our own emotion and draw out the emotion of others. We can impart messages of hope, love, sorrow, joy and sobriety. There is much more to design than white space, the two-thirds rule, and font selection. Those tricks and elements surely help when we’re stuck, but I know for certain that they are not what real creative design is all about. I look at the elements and standards of good design as the launching pad to what creative design is really about: Creating.