Church Communications resources and tips from Justin Dean

The Secret to Design Zen

We all struggle to find peace in our chaotic lives and schedules ? especially us artists. But the weird thing about artists is that we view the world differently. And though we may not want to admit it, sometimes we thrive in chaos.

But even with our unique wiring, we can find ?design zen? ? or at least moments where we get lost in our art and find peace through creation. But it can?t start with our art. It has to start with our soul.

We get to tell the greatest truths about God through art. If we aren?t saturating our lives in that truth, we?ll struggle to tell those stories. I?m certain this isn?t any new revelation. But I hope it?s a reminder?? a reminder I often have to tell myself. When I run into a creative wall, I can often trace it back to not spending time with God.[quote]When I run into a creative wall, I can often trace it back to not spending time with God.[/quote]

I would have never called myself an artist growing up. I didn?t go to art school, no piercings, no tattoos ? I?m not even into the latest and hippest music. I create as a means to a solution.[quote]I create as a means to a solution.[/quote]

Coming back to the church, I found myself increasingly frustrated by how the church looked and how the church communicated. I became a designer to make the bride of Christ more beautiful. When I get into a rut, often the only thing that will pick me up out of it is to remind myself why I do what I do. Revisiting my passion reenergizes my creative spirit.[quote]Revisiting my passion reenergizes my creative spirit.[/quote]

Of course, just because you?re passionate about your work and you?ve read your Bible so much it?s held together with duct tape, it doesn?t mean ideas and great art just flow from your fingertips. Sometimes you have to get practical. So here are a few practical ways to find your design zen.

Get All Your Bad Ideas Out of the Way

I start by putting all of my obvious ideas on paper. Then I move to the corny/cheesy ideas that come to my mind, and I put those on paper. I put them on paper because one of those bad ideas may very well be a springboard to a newer greater idea. But also, getting all my ideas out makes space in my brain. I no longer have to wrestle or jump over them. They?re out.

Be a Sponge

Making space in your brain allows new ideas to start filling that space. That?s a real challenge if you don?t have a consistent habit of bringing in creative inspiration. Develop a habit by doing things like constantly taking quick photos of things that spark your interest, following creative people on Twitter and Facebook, or spending time on Pinterest (no not for the recipes). This doesn?t work if you wait until you?ve been given an assignment and begin to search for the right inspiration for the project. You have to work to stay constantly inspired.[quote]You have to work to stay constantly inspired.[/quote]

Focus on Your Art, Not Your To-Do List

This is probably the most challenging part for me. When I have a project in front of me, and a dozen more ahead of it, I can quickly and easily crank it out and check it off as done. But that not only lacks any zen-like characteristics, it produces mediocre work. I have to push all those other projects out of my mind, focus on the project before me, and pour myself into it. For me, this is about not working toward completing the work but toward creating something that inspires me. When I do that, I can look up after hours of work and feel like I?ve only been gone for minutes.

Find Your Design Zen Space

I started Holy Cow Creative in the living room of our 900 square-foot condo. Me, my wife, my oldest teenage son, and a baby all shared the same space. I had a tiny desk and computer in the corner of the living room. I had to find a way to silence what was around me. For me, it was turning on the TV ? usually Fox or CNN ? and letting that drown everything out. That?s what started building my zen space ? my bubble. I think it had to do with the repetition and the fact that I didn?t really care about most of the stories. I know for many this is music (I told you I wasn?t that cool). For others it might be finding a space to work away from all the distraction. But find what works for you.

And it will change. Now that I have an office it?s been about creating a space that inspires me. As soon as I sit in this space my zen bubble begins to build.

With all that said, I think the greatest thing you can do to find design zen is by designing for something you?re passionate about. I always talk to people who design for a living instead of to make an impact. It?s heartbreaking. Those of us creating for the church or a non-profit are blessed beyond our understanding to be craftsmen for something so much bigger than ourselves. So if you find yourself chasing zen, instead, find your center in God and chase your passion.

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