“The Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars.” – Francis A. Schaeffer
Living out your faith in a nation that is hostile to Christ can be a difficult and dangerous challenge. Many of our brothers and sisters put their careers, homes, families, and even their lives at risk by choosing to follow Jesus.
Imagine the tension for a Christian artist – someone creatively gifted who desires to express their love for God through writing, painting, music… yet must do so carefully and often covertly.
That’s the position Michael* finds himself in. Working for a secular company in a place where being up front with your faith can bring misunderstanding and persecution, he must find innovative ways to share his art. The internet has been a useful tool in that regard.
In fact, that’s where I first saw his simple, clean, and surprisingly powerful illustrations of Scripture. It’s also how I connected with him to do a short interview about his art, his faith, and the intersection of the two.
How did you get started drawing?
It’s always been a thing. I don’t think I am particularly brilliant or special (in fact I was told as much at university by one harsh tutor). For me, the big thing is not so much the greatness of the artist but the ideas that the artist is trying to communicate. For that reason, I love the idea of getting behind the work of better people and things than myself. I illustrate a few educational materials by writers who I am privileged to be around. I find it quite easy to think visually and create materials based on their ideas – but to have the ideas themselves is the hard thing (at least for me).
This is also why I love the idea of being able to work with the profound truth found in the Bible. It deserves far better than I can give it, but I am glad to paddle about in its depths.
What’s your favorite subject matter?
I am particularly interested in cultural changes, technology, educational practice and science fiction. That’s quite a few things.
What unique challenges are there when illustrating Scripture?
The same as anyone who handles holy Scripture – getting behind it and carrying it as faithfully/clearly as you can. John Stott explained it once by referring to a master jeweler handling a precious stone – you can either smash it into your shape or you can gently tap it and search for those natural fissures so that when it does come apart it falls into its natural shape.
As an illustrator, I think the importance of submitting yourself to the voice of Scripture is crucial. This is not primarily to do with drawing ability (in my case I tend to draw very simple line imagery), it is to do with who you are – being humble and trying to stay clean/filled with the Spirit so that you feel the truth most clearly and powerfully and you can then channel it effectively when it comes to making those instinctive marks on the page.
What is your goal when illustrating passages from the Bible?
As above – stand behind it. John the Baptist – I must be less, he must be more.
How do you engage with the Bible personally? Do you ever interpret it with sketches or other art?
Like any other Christian, I am part of a worshipping community – flawed but devoted. I try to serve in the community as a school teacher and be the best dad, husband and family man I can be. The Bible truth and worldview is central to this. I try to integrate it with the everyday by reading and thinking about it as often as I can.
Do you have an artist’s statement?
“I like to draw stuff for people.”
I think that is fairly simple – and it is about helping wherever I can. I usually say to people I bump into, “If I can, I will.” My work isn’t particularly groundbreaking but I can think fairly clearly and see things that other often don’t. So if I can serve others by lifting their work somehow, I am glad to be of service.
Michael’s work is another great example of how we can engage with the Bible in ways outside the box of standard reading and study. His illustrations of Scripture help others better relate to and understand God’s Word, so their lives can be transformed by Christ.
*Not his real name.