Friday, November 08, 2013

Origins: An Old Testament Survey Course

Lindsay and I's plans for each page and illustration.
This summer, I was invited to attend the Rocky Mountain Region's staff training in Utah, to help design for a new Old Testament curriculum (to be called Origins) for student camps. I was so excited when my boss told me, I ran down the hall to confirm the appointment. I love getting to know our staff around the country and I love getting to know God! Lindsay Olesburg, our Director of Scripture Engagement, would be teaching the course to us staff first to develop and get feedback on the content, and later she and I would work together on the workbook.

It's so valuable to experience what I'm designing for. So many parts of a curriculum aren't on a sheet of paper, like the night we sat around a fire in groups representing the tribes of Israel. The eldest of each group read allowed the story of the births of each brother. Our tribe, the Levites, cheered when Levi's name was announced! Later, we had to read out verses from the prophets, major and minor, warning and pleading with Israel and Judah to return to God. Each time the people rejected the message. There was sadness in the room when we realized the people would be exiled, led away from the promised land, the kingdom destroyed. Lindsay wanted us to seriously step into history with our minds and hearts, and see God's love in the story He'd designed. Now I can bring that spirit into the visuals. 

Although I now not designing the final workbook (I did sketch the layout of every page and organize the chapters), I'm still doing illustrations for each chapter, showing the growth of God's people as a tree. Starting with the trees in the garden of Eden to the small tree planted in the promised land, the great tree of David's kingdom, and the stump of the exiled remnant--12 illustrations in all. The idea came from the sketches I drew in my notes with pen and colored pencil.
Drawing on my Genesis 2 manuscript, imagining the people reading about Eden and Isreal.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Staff Conference 2014

This is the last in a series of staff conferences (2008, 2011, and now 2014) on our vision statement: to see students and faculty transformed, campuses renewed, and world changers developed. We’ll be sharing the stories of our alumni, who are following Jesus faithfully in great and small tasks, and studying the life of Jesus, as the example of ultimate world change: world change takes incarnation and sacrifice, and leads to renewal and more of God’s kingdom on earth.

Above is the visual theme I’ve developed (though it's a little small here!) and animates between each stage. It shows what looks like a greek hero’s just-picked laurel crown, but it’s really a living crown of thorns, which dies to show the classic crown of thorns (Matt. 27:29), which—metaphorically depicting the resurrection (hence also sunrise background)—buds like Aaron’s staff (Numbers 17:8) replacing a ‘crown of beauty instead of ashes’ (Isaiah 61:3) the first blooming of, becoming the last crown, the crown representing God’s Kingdom, His victory over sin and death. The last crown is purple and gold-kingly colors—but also looks like a memorial wreath that might be found on a hero’s grave, but has traditional Easter lilies.

World Student Day: A Story and a Few Stats

As most of you know by now, I headed up communications for World Student Day in the United States this year-- especially to our students and staff. But wasn't I surprised when I got a phone call from... Jamaica? 

Yes, it was Love 101 Christian radio station calling from Kingston, asking if they could interview some American participants of World Student day!  I knew who to call-- my friend and coworker Geoff at Northern Arizona University.  I knew the International student chapter (ISM) and the undergrad chapter had both celebrated the day with prayer, Bible study and a potluck (ISM) and fasting, worship in 7 languages and prayer stations (undergrad), and that an International student made a decision for Christ at one of the events.

Although they didn’t get to tell the whole story on the radio show, Brittany Kurtz, the ISM staff, and an undergrad student, Katie Budd, were interviewed by Love 101 for their regular segment ‘Campus Connection,' along with students from Jamaican and St. Lucian IFES movements, and the Caribbean regional secretary. They all talked about the day and about why and how they were reaching their campuses for Jesus. The regional secretary wrapped it up with explaining that we help each other bring Christ to our universities.
Although I know that more staff ans students celebrated world student day than signed up, we did look at who signed up. This year the US had 97 staff, 190 students, and 58 supporters sign up on the IFES world site (often representing chapters or churches), compared to overall world numbers of 388 staff, 1130 students, and 419 supporters around the world. Although our sign-ups for WSD are far, far lower than those of our movement as a whole, this year we were the movement with the most sign-ups
Also, from the video, we see we have from the US, more than 9,412 loads and 458 plays, the most of either from any country. Total video loads are 23,126 and total plays in 1,405, for the English video. There are completed plays in 105 countries, plays or loads in 150 countries--global reach!

Here are a few of the American campuses that participated:
San Diego State University, Harvard University, Tufts University (Fletcher School) with grad students and faculty, University of Iowa, Ohio State, Illinois State University, Georgia State University, Northern Arizona University, Vanier College, WVU, Cal State University of East Bay, UTEP, Lewis & Clark, Northwestern, University of Oklahoma, Portland State University in Oregon, USA, Emory University, Middlebury College, MIT, Wellesley College and Boston College, PSU, UC Berkeley, UNI, Oberlin College, University of Kentucky, Texas A&M, and North Dakota.

Native Ministries Logo

It's official! Native ministries finally has a logo!

Finding a visual sensibility that speaks within Native Cultures from coast to coast and in Hawai'i (and looks 'InterVarsity') was no easy task, but a blessed one. I got to research Native cultures and spend more time with our Native ministries staff, especially Megan and Willie from Colorado and Moani from Hawai'i (on the phone). They were very thoughtful about the symbolism behind shapes and colors, which every designer appreciates. 

We had some 'God moments' along the way as well, discovering young staff who have Native heritage, when they'd overhear our conversations and join in! Megan and Willie were able to minister to them and also to exhort more of our staff to reach Native students. Not to mention, the younger staff and I got to hear Megan and Willie's stories. Here, God used my work, not just to bless others with the product, but to bless me with the process.

Greek Conference Boston 2013

I've been serving Greek InterVarsity for eight years and eight conferences! At my first GC in 2006 I ran tech and took photos. Every conference since I've designed the whole look. 

We started early this year because the first location--Boston--was held in October. (Charlotte & Indianapolis are in February.) I worked on 'the big stuff': banners, stage, handbook, but Eric, the Greek communications staff, designed the promotions, with me critiquing and consulting. I'm very proud of him and his great work! 

In spite of it's proximity to Salem near Halloween (they were in Peabody), and the spiritual warfare involved, God blessed the Boston students! The video below shows moments from the conference. My favorite is the end: the guy who stands in the last shot, had been prayed for by his friend for a long time. When he is the first to stand to make a first-time commitment to Jesus, the friend hugs him!

FYI for you Bostonians, next year's will be in Waltham!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Women's Conference: Getting Beyond the Stereotypes

I designed promotion for InterVarsity's Women's Conference, that I'm planning to attend this weekend! There was alot of back and forth, trying to find an image that appeals to strong women. Frankly, it's hard to say 'women's' without all the clichés of pink and purple and swirls and flowers. (Or putting an actual woman, since we didn't want to communicate a particular ethnicity, age or body-type.)

In trying to avoid the pure women = pretty pretty princesses idea, the client put forth using red heels on the side of the road. A women who's left her constraints (the heels) behind to start a new journey, she said. Great concept! The problem is, we then veer into the other unwanted stereotypes of women: the prostitute, or the victim. Red heels on the side of the road? Has someone been kidnapped? How do we portray the idea of strong, grown-up, godly women?

Eventually, we settled on using great vintage suitcase with the themes of the conference as travel stickers, to get the idea of journey, of following your call. Even then, we struggled to find an image with the right road--one that would be green and inviting with possibilities. And we needed the right perspective and size, looking ahead into the distance but seeing the suitcase and stickers clearly. We ended up buying a suitcase and doing the photo shoot ourselves... in brown, drab, icy, Wisconsin March. Uh-oh.

Photoshop skills to the rescue! Photoshop doesn't mean I can do anything, but I was relieved to find I could make spring come sooner. After a long process we got something fun, evocative and (hopefully) appealing to lots of women. It takes a lot of work to look this good:

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Chapter Building Training Videos

I've been what I describe as the 'imbedded' designer with the committee that shapes and tests new strategies for building bigger, stronger and more evangelistic chapters--chapters that area healthy and growing. Each year I prepare materials for their staff training in June--posters, worksheets, diagrams--but this year was a little different. This summer, on a few projects, I became a producer and communications coordinator not just a graphic designer

The committee had a few great concepts from the previous year's Alpha test and wanted give the Beta test staff a way to share concepts with their students. So, they asked if 2100 would film all of their training sessions. Well, that's where I step in and help by saying: what are students actually going to watch? What do we actually have man-hours to do? I discovered the trainers would be coming in a day ahead of the training. With the video team, we decided to have them prepare and record 5 min trainings on the topics they thought were most important. It was alot to ask of trainers-- taking their 30 min segments down to 5 min, but as InterVarsity staff, they are all talented storytellers. In one morning, while preping other materials for the training, we recorded sessions with stories and simple tips on how to structure your communications and interactions. Videos were on new student outreach, casting vision, raising up leaders, etc...and my favorite--how to do great follow-up. 

Follow-up is one of the places we often fall down on the job. We might get a lot of contacts at all our beginning-of-the-year events, but then students are too burned out or feeling too timid and awkward to actually contact and befriend the students that expressed interest. Sam's story reminded me that God works through the risks we take--and that while--yay!--most people are interested when they sign up, even the ones that seem not to be are people, just like me, who can become great friends, not to mention great followers of Christ. 

Our intern Adam Joe worked hard to film and edit these, and did a great job. I'm so excited we have communications that will take these valuable concepts to a student level, in a compelling and easy way. On top of academics, students won't have to watch 6 hours of workshops. They can watch a 5 min clip together and discuss.

And I had fun story boarding and art directing the opening animation. :) 

See all the videos in the chapter building vimeo album, or watch Sam's here.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Brand New Brand: Study Abroad

Guess what? InterVarsity now has a ministry for study abroad! This new department helps InterVarsity students connect with the IFES movement where they are studying, holds retreats for them over breaks and helps them think about sharing their faith while abroad. InterVarsity is also partnering to have an actual study abroad program to Paris and Barcelona! 

As many of you know, I studied abroad in Germany and was involved there with our sister movement Studenten Mission Deutschland (SMD). The SMD students and staff  (love you, Reiner and Martina!) helped me find an apartment, and a church. I joined their Bible study, I attended their shows, I went on retreats, I spoke more German with them than anywhere else. They made my study abroad ten times better. So, naturally, I was über-excited to work on Study Abroad's communications.

A brand new program needs a...ahem...brand. But first they wanted to recruit a few students--so I helped them with an Ireland retreat e-brochure. Then they wanted to explain their mission. 2100 video team member David Hui traveled to Rome, Barcelona, and Paris to do interviews, and I art directed and supervised our summer intern Ryan Holmquist as he designed an opener and titles for the video, and an explanatory brochure.  

Meet Diana, Paul, and Ingrid, three American students serving and sharing faith while studying in Europe:
  Studying Abroad As Mission from InterVarsity twentyonehundred on Vimeo.
 As we worked on the brochure and video, we realized the logo Study Abroad had commissioned from an outside designer wasn't in line with InterVarsity colors, and wasn't very easy to work with--dusty pink, anyone? In fact all the missions department logos were all a little off. I talked with each department's leaders and made small changes to the whole collection, so it looks more 'InterVarsity.' It's no easy task, but we're working on all our ministries looking like a recognizable family. The changes are small--from black to navy outlines, for example--but make a difference in looking authentic together.

Now Study Abroad has a video, and will soon have a brochure, web and social media headers, and e-brochures for their gatherings. They look like a (newest!) member if a trusted family. Slowly, we're building a whole new brand. And a brand new way to reach the world!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

World Student Day : Handbook

For World Student day, I recruited a few staff to help me work on materials that would help staff plan gatherings with their students, without adding 'just another thing to do' to their Back-to-School plates. We wanted to remind staff that praying for students and staff in other countries could help their students know God better and understand the global church. Staff Geoff Gentry, Kodi Thompson-Moore, and Jordan Kologe did most of the writing, and I designed our handbook--about 15 pages.

On seeing our handbook, IFES staff in Oxford said “Wow – this is a great resource, and beautifully designed! Well done.You’ve inspired us to think about how we might adapt this as a resource for the wider IFES family..."   

Drew Smith, a staff Texas (who helped with editing!) said:
"I got the World Student Day mailer, wow, that turned out great! My wife got it in the mail, didn't know I'd seen it, and brought it over to show me because she thought it was so stellar.

On top of these items, we'll have posts on the InterVarsity blog, tweets and facebook posts to promote the day. I hope you'll join us October 18th, and those of you who tweet, tweet #IFESWSD and let us know you prayed!