We often get questions from people about the artwork done for Westside, but with the launch of the Story sermon series in particular, people wanted to know things like; how big is the set? Was it actually made completely from paper? Why did you choose this style for the artwork? So in response to those questions, and many more, it seemed like a good time to give people a little glimpse into our process and how our focus as a creative team at Westside is meant to make much of Christ and glorify God.
When our creative team originally started talking about the Story sermon series, we had no idea how we were going to execute the artwork. We wanted it to reflect the idea that we are all part of a grander story than our own— God’s story. His story has been in motion since the beginning of time. It spans from creation to eternity, so the question was: “How do you communicate that in one image?” How do you communicate the idea that God handcrafted us for His glory and that He has been telling His story in and through our lives for centuries?
When looking at God’s story, we landed on four major highlights that needed to be included in the artwork to give an overview of God’s plan from the beginning to the end. We started with creation and the fall of man, the exodus and foreshadowing of Christ, the death and resurrection of Jesus, and finally, the restoration and redemption of man through Christ in eternity.
Once the premise was identified, that moved us on to the question of how to execute the artwork. Should it be an illustration? What style? How would the style tie-in to what we’re trying to say conceptually? We wanted a handcrafted feel to reflect the idea that God handcrafted us for His glory and that He is telling His story through His creation. We thought that a really engaging way to communicate that idea would be through an image sculpted with paper down to the minute detail. And so we entered paper world.
Before we started paper construction, we created a road map of what each scene would look like and determined the scale of the set. The scale was largely dictated by the size of the word “Story”. A height of 7.5” for the lettering seemed logical, because we wanted to make sure that crafting them out of coloured paper would be manageable and that we would be able to find the kind of paper we wanted, in the colours we wanted locally. After the word was constructed and mounted, we could begin the process of creating the various story scenes.
What followed was a process of inventing templates for the miniature paper sculptures and constructing the elements. The trickiest part was not losing our resolve, and continuing to have high expectations for the level of detail in each element from the beginning to the end of the entire project. Sometimes you can get lost in projects and find yourself cutting corners because you just want to finish. This is where discipline comes in. It’s important to ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. In the moments when I am tempted to slack off or be ok with doing less than my best, I remind myself that I am not working just to get things done, I am working for God’s glory and that demands my best at all times. He sees everything, even how I treat the menial and unattractive tasks. Will I have a good attitude and discipline in this moment?
The Stories within The Story
After we finished creating the main scene for the Story series artwork, we wanted to create a series of icons that would represent each of the individual stories that would be discussed in the series. This meant determining iconic items that could be related to each person. Many of the icons required some research as to what they would look like in that time and place. Because one of the major homes for these images was going to be on the back-lits in front of The Centre, we wanted each icon to be contrasted by an eye-catching colour that would engage people on the street.
I am so blessed to have the opportunity to work with amazing people and do creative work that pushes me further as a designer with every new project. Creating the artwork for the Story series was a challenge and stylistically it was a risk. Doing a project like this within the time frame that we had did not leave a lot of room for error and it could have gone really wrong. At the end of the day I try to keep this in mind with every project: stepping out of your comfort zone and allowing God to meet you there inevitably grows you whether you succeed or fail.
Creative Team: Tiffany Haines (concept, creative direction and design), Aaron Rose (concept and photography), and Stephanie Brennan (design).
Tiffany Haines is on staff at Westside Church as a Deacon of graphic design and also leads worship. She has a passion for writing music for the Church and seeing the arts used to glorify God.