September 1, 2022

Helping Others See Jesus

Yes, art really is a career!

Heidi Mendoza

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be so many things. I dreamed about being a veterinarian. I felt very confident that the only criterion was to really love animals. I thought I was overqualified. I dreamed of being in law enforcement—so I could give my dad tickets for driving way too fast. 

Decision Time for Me

But when the moment came, I was at a loss. I didn’t feel called to any of the traditional occupations: teacher, preacher, doctor, lawyer. I wanted something within the creative field: that was what fueled my heart and soul! All I heard, though, was that artists starve. I needed to find something that would support me. But it appeared that there was nothing out there that would allow me to be creative and still pay my bills. What would I do? 

As it turned out, God had a plan. He always does. 

It was my junior year of academy when one brief conversation changed my life. My English teacher got a visit from his sister and told me about her work: she designs things and that’s her job. I thought “What?” Could he repeat that again? What kind of things? He showed me a teacher’s résumé that she had designed; a unique résumé in which she had wrapped a number 2 pencil as the spine of the little booklet made from lined paper. I was stunned at what I saw. She gets paid to come up with genius ideas like that? My heart was racing and excited. Could it be that I had found a place where I could be creative, that would be fun, and possibly pay my bills too? He gave her a label: graphic designer. 

It wasn’t easy, then, to chase down that dream. First of all, I had to convince my parents that it was a legitimate career. I told them that when I heard what a graphic designer does, my soul lit up, my smile grew, and the ideas and possibilities came pouring in. My parents love me and support me, but they still aren’t confident in describing what I do. I remember my father looking at the school bill and calling me, needing some answers. In his wonderful, sarcastic, loving way, he asked why there were no books on the bill. Why only color pencils, sketchbooks, canvas, paint, and more art materials? I had to explain to him, one more time, that I’m an art major; these were my tools. 

Decision Time for You?

I believe that everyone is called. I believe God aligns our lives and, if we allow Him, will lead us to His purpose, to His calling for us. God called me to be a graphic designer. My junior year at Andrews University He blended my skills and His purpose and revealed it to me. A deep desire to design for our churches and conferences grew in my heart. I wanted the visual presentation of the events and printed work that the church released to match the rich, beautiful content that we taught. I wanted to design for God.

Jesus needs graphic designers. He needs individuals who are creative and see visual communication as a powerful tool. He needs them to mingle among other creatives. He needs them to direct others to the one true Creator! Being called to be a graphic designer may mean representing Jesus in a very secular atmosphere, or representing Him by helping Adventist visual designs to rise to the quality of their biblical content. 

Jesus as Creator is the ultimate visual communication designer. Look at the coloring on some tropical birds. Look at the intricate design of the veins in your body, how they weave in and out carrying life. All these things speak loudly and point to an amazing divine Designer. Jesus’ purpose is for us to spread His message of love and hope. Being a graphic designer involves dimensions as powerful as being a pastor, evangelist, or Bible worker. It is a specific calling to represent Him, not just in your work ethic or interaction with your coworkers, but specifically in the designs you create. When that art director or layperson says your designs are amazing, that’s your opportunity to say how God helped you design them even though you stayed up way too late finishing them. “Amen”—we serve a patient, all-knowing, creative God. First Corinthians 10:31 says it clearly: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” “Whatever you do,” the Spirit insists, it is always to be for His glory. What a great honor! 

The Master Designer is calling for graphic designers to sign up to help share the gospel in your style of living , the words you speak, sharing how God helps you with each project that you are assigned. We are visual communicators: people need to visualize, to see Jesus in us. Isn’t that the ultimate calling? In a sense, everyone, by godly living , should be a visual communicator for Jesus. But He also needs some who will pursue the specialized profession of graphic designer for Him: Be ready.