Before those more conservatively minded folk get all hot and bothered – no, I will not be breaking down how to create the next hardcore edgy album art cover re-imagined for a sermon slide to attract rowdy strangers to start coming to church (though they are certainly welcome!)
Now that we have covered the foundational points in this series on the most neglected church communication (sermon slides for those who have not been following) we get to move onto the fun stuff – actual message artwork and how we can make sure it is rockin’ or stellar if you prefer.
Without further ado here is my summarized list of what I think it takes to create a graphic that will surely hit squarely on the target you are aiming and dreaming of.
The first and most important ingredient we need to cover is that of quality. It is no longer acceptable in our over advertized age to have anything less than the very best we are able to produce.
As you move through your design process and refine the overall work – pay attention to the details. Make sure your letter spacing is right (not too tight and not too wide). Clean up any imperfections that are distracting (clone tools today leave little room for excuses not to) make sure your colors make sense and that the overall balance of the slide works. In other words; if your main subject on the left and your eyes are immediately drawn to the right by a contracting element – fix it, don’t let it slide.
Understandably you may be dealing with personal limitations in what you are currently able to do. I certainly did not start where I am today and I have by no means arrived at perfection. My advice here would be simple: Always be patient and always be growing. You should be able to look back with some level of dissatisfaction with something you created a year ago. If you still think it is perfect and you wouldn’t change a thing, then you’re not growing. Find someone beyond your skill sets and try to “catch” them. Personally – I like finding the best, figuring out what it is they are doing and go after it. Which leads into the next ingredient…
You should have some people you follow or some places you can go that will consistently have high quality work to push and ignite your thinking and vision. I tell everyone I work with on sermon slide design in particular to drop what they are doing, go make a flickr account if they don’t have one, and join the Church Marketing Lab.
Some of the most incredible designers I have found when it comes to church design, and really graphic design in general, are regulars here. They include users such as David Choate, Mitch Bolton and Juliet Towner to name a few.
This community can serve as a great place to get ideas and inspiration on your next project. The bonus here though? I have, over time, found greater value in this group by posting my in progress work for critique. If you are open and honest, looking for help and feedback, you can get great advice on how to take your work beyond to the next level.
Custom Designed to Your Unique Context
I have nothing against any of the stock church graphic sites out there. I think they serve a good purpose. But if you have the tools and talent – make your own to fit your context. Sure, it’s more work but its worth it – trust me.
If you are not sure of your context, check out last weeks article in this series for some ideas to get you thinking. There is almost nothing worse than a slide that is completely out of sync with the rest of the style of your local church. It will put a perplexed look on everyone’s face and worst of all – it’s simply distracting.
Your Responsibility is to Enhance not Steal the Show
As you design your slide, an overarching thought in your mind should always be there to keep you grounded – that thought is your purpose and that purpose is to simply enhance your Pastor or speaker’s message.
Though your work will be the most widely viewed, it is still behind the scenes. Check your heart and your motive if the gorgeous graphics start to become more important than the content they are meant to support. It can be easy to let that train go, just make sure to keep the main thing the main thing.
When your graphic works to enhance the message and thoughts being communicated, the results can be truly astounding, and exciting.
In my ministry, these ingredients have surfaced as the top contributors to successful slides. What about you in your unique context? What disciplines have you found to be paramount in creating message artwork?