WELS National Worship Conference 2014

Last week I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the WELS National Conference on Worship, Music, and the Arts—the largest Lutheran worship conference in North America. It was truly an incredible few days filled with joyous music, useful workshops, and Christian fellowship. I'm still in awe with how well the conference was organized and how the many services and presentations will serve me in the future.

My presentation was on graphic design for worship and outreach. I was pleasantly surprised (and incredibly scared) to find out that over one hundred pastors, teachers, and lay leaders wanted to attend my talk. Graphic design, or rather visual communication, certainly has an important place in enhancing and supporting the gospel—especially in a very visual and media-centered society. Files and links from my presentation are found on my personal website. More stuff will be added to the website next week.


Conference Service Folders

Back in January, I was asked to help design the layout of some of the services for the conference and to also produce original art for the Transfiguration service on the final day. The conference had three main services every morning: The Epiphany of Our Lord, The Baptism of Our Lord, and The Transfiguration of Our Lord. In addition to these services, there were four concert services and two recitals.

It was a blessing to work with Pastor Caleb Bassett, who guided the art and layout direction for the services. Joshua Krohn produced art and designed the layout for the Epiphany service, while Jason Jaspersen created art for the Baptism service as well as a banner that hung above the altar. I encourage you to visit their websites that showcase their excellent work and give some insight into their creative process.

Before I go into the process of how I made the art and service layouts, I'd like to point out that the art used in the services is now available for purchase at nwcstore.com. Please help support these artists as they continue to glorify God with the gifts he has given them.


Service Art

My first draft of the art for The Transfiguration of Our Lord.

My first attempt at creating art for Transfiguration stuck closely to the current style of art found here at Paramentics. A sketch was made on paper and scanned onto my computer. Final details were then drawn in Adobe Illustrator. 

Even though I was happy with the direction of this particular piece, I decided to create a completely different version in a style that ventured away from my work on Paramentics. One reason for doing this was to challenge myself artistically. It has been nearly two years since I've experimented with different art styles. Those few months before Paramentics was officially established, I was sketching and testing different styles of art and the methods for creating them. The art you see now came through much trial and error, with many iterations of method and form.  This conference was as good a time as any to try something new, while still harnessing the power of positive and negative space (black and white) in liturgical art for worship folders.

Another reason for attempting a different style was more practical: After the current three-year series is completed, I am looking to begin another series using different designs and possibly different methods used to make the art. For this project, I went back to those early test sketches and iterations from two years ago. There was one style that I was particularly attracted to and decided to pursue it further. This style was very flat (i.e. no perspective) and more understated in its presentation.

Early drafts of Paramentics artwork for the rites of Holy Baptism and Christian Marriage.

Instead of sketching the entire piece, I sketched the elements and people separately. Many things were done entirely on the computer with no hand-sketched reference to go off of—something I have never done before. Doing this saved me quite a bit of time and gave me the freedom to experiment a little more with its design. I could also take elements and reuse them for other pieces of art.

The ability to easily remove and reorganize elements proved beneficial when deciding on the final cover art for the service. A larger graphic was originally used that showed Jesus, Moses & Elijah, the cloud, mountains, and disciples. However, I decided at the last minute to use a smaller graphic that had fewer elements from the Transfiguration as one of the cover concepts presented to the other artists. 

The art for the conference needed to be printed in black and white, but for this style I also wanted to have the option of using more than one color (The current art on Paramentics was specifically designed to be printed only in black and white). Future sets could then have an optional colored version of the main graphic that reflects the color of the church season.

I'm excited about the possibilities for new art on Paramentics. This will be something I will be working on in 2015 so that I can get a head start on Year C. As far as that first draft above, there are no plans to release it in its current form, but I will no doubt be using it in a future project. I'll talk a little more about the service layouts and what went into crafting their design next week. In the mean time, browse the links above and consider purchasing the art from the Christian artists I had the pleasure of working with over the past few months.

Ian Welch