13 Sep 2016

A Creative Illustrated Approach to the Bible

One way to deal with our troubled times, our modern day predicament whatever this might be, is to hark back to the past in order to seek solace, answers or simply to solidify the grounding of our core beliefs - faith for instance - that sit within the cultural territory of our heritage. And the revisited, nurtured grounding might just give us that extra footing so we can face the present more comfortably, with more assurance. Look at it like a watered, tendered, tilled garden. Or a book whose written content is interlaced with pertinent illustrations.

The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung, illustrated by Don Clark, via Invisible Creature

The purpose of this article is not for me to go all religious on you or for you to feel put off by the seemingly heavy topic of religion. The approach to and treatment of topics like religion (or philosophy for that matter) shouldn't need to be heavy either. I believe that the key to get children and adults interested in a book like the Bible, the way to make it appealing to them is visually: colourful, purposeful, unleashed creativity! I believe in the healing power of graphic design and how its magic and soothing, positive aura help tackle the (potentially) life-changing publications like the Bible, and outreach to a new audience or get them rediscovered. If I were to head the Ministry of Education, graphic designers, illustrators and other creatives would hold a pivotal role!

As a collection of sacred texts in Judaism and Christianity, compiled under the Old Testament and the New Testament, the Bible guides Jews and Christians in their spiritual journey. Christian believers should be somewhat connected to, acquainted to or familiar with the Bible, depending upon the depth of our relationship with faith and how much of a practicing believer we are. 

ibid.

The Bible, whose complimentary copy deposited by The Gideons in hotel rooms might be the closest some of us will ever get to in physical terms, and the closest opportunity to the path to spiritual enlightenment, yet a book which we might sadly only open if deprived of lighter reading matter, mobile devices or other forms of hotel 'entertainment'. Now if the Bible, or an introduction to it - which might suffice - were a pictorial feast like The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden, written by Kevin DeYoung and illustrated by Don Clark, in a carefully-summed up, loving way that resonates with faith neophytes, chance is we would take more than a last-chance-saloon interest in the Bible!

Illustrations have the power to reconnect us with serious topics, and reawaken us, rekindle the flame within. For some, it might just be enough. Others might delve deeper, reach out for a de-facto copy of the Bible and start reading the Scriptures and maybe befriend the local church. As an aside, just think what a little illustrative licence would do to Tolstoy's War & Peace?

ibid.

Cultural heritage is certainly what children need so they get their sense of identity and belonging and grasp some form of understanding about the greater things in Life, the greater scheme of things that span the seen and the unseen, without adults tampering with it, getting all metaphysical and complicating it like only we know how.

By the way, I didn't grow up within an overzealous Christian family but my mum made sure we would attend church at least once a month. I was christened as a baby and when I was about 9 years old followed catechism, a weekly hour-long religious education syllabus provided by the local priest or his aide as a way to prepare us kids for catholic communion.

ibid.

To be honest, I can't remember a thing from my religious classes. Most of all though, what left a lasting impression on me and provided me with the tools that in turn helped develop my curiosity in God and the Universe, my spirituality, my critique, my imagination also, and the on-going willingness to find out more were those illustrated books that I had got from my parents and other relatives throughout my childhood. They were almost as visually-pleasing as The Biggest Story and they sure left an impact.

Richly-illustrated, graphics-driven, full-page decorative, symbology-strong children's books like The Biggest Story are bound to appeal to the young and the less so. They are the most enticing introduction to the Bible, a book that needs no introduction and yet that is daunting for a non-practicing Christian to open, or for a curious non-believer or the member of a different faith. Learning and personal development should be fun and visual appeal will facilitate it.

Limited edition 6" x 8" 'Ascension' print, ibid.


The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings us Back to the Garden, by Kevin DeYoung and illustrated by Don Clark, was published by Crossway, Wheaton, Illinois in 2015, 132 pages. Kevin is the senior pastor at University Reformed Church (PCA) in East Lansing, Michigan. He serves as a council member at the Gospel Coalition, as Chancellor’s Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary and is a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Don is an artist and the cofounder of Invisible Creature, a widely respected and award-winning design studio based in Seattle, WA. The book is available to purchase from Invisible Creature and Amazon. Don't miss out on the free 25-page PDF preview!

ibid.

"The Biggest Story is a delight to the eyes, ears and hearts of its readers. With rich illustrations and even richer text, the biggest and best story is presented in all of its vivid colors - every dark shade and every bright tone. Parent and child alike will feel the ache of the fallenness of human nature and the comfort of an always-faithful God. From our family to yours, we wholeheartedly commend this book!" - Matt and Lauren Chandler 

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