Happy May! It's the first Tuesday of the month, which means it's time for the next heART Series interview!
My belief is that through the arts, souls can be awakened to the presence of God. The Holy Spirit is all around us, all of the time, but sometimes we have our blinders on. Although the arts themselves aren't responsible for bringing revival, I believe that when we allow art to speak into our souls, our souls can be awakened to the presence of the Holy Spirit, who's been there all along.
In this monthly series, I'll be taking you through an exploration of how creative artwork and faith go hand-in-hand, even when the artwork itself is secular. How can God be glorified through choreography, for example? How about someone's landscape or still-life painting? A t-shirt design? Photography? Graphic design? Where is God in these arts?
He's there; God's hand is in every gift that He gives to every person -- it's just a matter of how the gift is manifested and used for His glory.
You can catch up with past interviews by clicking here. When you're ready, come back and let's hear from our EIGHTH ARTIST!
SARAH KEELING OF HEART WORK TEES
Sarah lives on a ranch in the Texas Hill Country with her husband and five year old son. After experiencing an incapacitating chronic illness, Sarah wanted to do something big to help other women. Sarah launched Heart Work Tees as a way to encourage other women that every single thing they do matters to God. Sarah was moved to donate all of the profits to a project with The Seed Company in South Asia that is training women to share the Bible in their native languages. A counselor by trade, photography has been a hobby since Sarah was in college. When she started, she was not an artist or graphic designer, but she has always had a lot of creative and silly ideas, like the Laundry Slayer superhero design, which was the first t-shirt design for Heart Work Tees.
the life in between: When did you first learn to (or realize that you could!) dance, paint, sew, write, style, photograph, etc. What is your heART story?
Sarah: I've been playing with photography since I was in college (in 2000). I started with a Canon Rebel SLR and the kit lens. It was a fun hobby for me. I started practicing it more after our son was born and I got a DSLR. I'm not a professional, but it's fun to practice and experiment. When I was creating the Laundry Slayer design, I could not find any clip art that looked right to me. I decided to try to take a picture of myself and turn it into a silhouette to use in the design. I probably took over 400 pictures before I got that right. Then I sent it to a photographer friend, who cropped out the background and turned the picture into a design. After that, a few friends began teaching me the basics of graphic design and really helped me create more t-shirt designs. Then I thought that I could really channel my creativity into something wonderful through my t-shirt designs.
tlib: While you're immersed in a project or a piece, what are some things going through your mind? Do you pray? Do you praise?
Sarah: I pray a lot, use the Bible for inspiration, and listen to lots of praise music. Most of my designs were immediate ideas about verses that popped into my head. I believe that to be the Holy Spirit.
tlib: Tell us about your creative process. What inspires you to get started? Can you turn your creativity on and off?
Sarah: For my designs with Bible verses, it usually begins with a verse that has been very meaningful to me during that time. Then I start doodling that verse, which isn't very pretty. I like to make lots of example designs and then I email them to a few friends for their opinions and suggestions. That has been invaluable to me, and it's really fun to collaborate together. When I'm in the middle of a design, my brain is racing with ideas and it's pretty hard to turn it off until it's finished.
tlib: Do you prefer to share your work or do you like to keep it just between yourself and God? Why?
Sarah: I feel led to share my work so that it will encourage others. That's not an easy thing to do, but it's so worth it. It was terrifying when I first started, because I didn't have any formal training in graphic design. I worried that everyone would think I was a fraud. Collaborating with friends and designers has been invaluable to me in this way. They've told me honestly if a design needs changes.
tlib: If you share your work, how do you promote your art in a way that glorifies God?
Sarah: I like to explain to everyone that this really isn't about me, but about God. He gave me this opportunity, and He has provided any successes. I've really experienced that, so it's easy to share that with others. I really feel like I'm promoting God, especially because the profits are going to Bible translation.
tlib: How do you take compliments? How do you stay humble without denying your unique skill?
Sarah: I say, "thank you," and then explain that this whole experience has been completely God. I absolutely would have failed if I tried to do this on my own. God has opened doors I could not have ever imagined. I like to share that I did not have any of the training to do this before I started, and how so many people helped me with each design.. It has been so fun for me to learn new skills and get to express my creativity.
tlib: Do you believe that God can be glorified through secular art? How can secular work still point to Jesus?
Sarah: Sure! When I see a beautiful sunset or mountains I think of God's majesty. God is the creator of all things beautiful, and I think He can use art to glorify Himself. He can also use things like the Laundry Slayer t-shirt, which is not Biblical. If it helps enable women to serve with more joy and laughter in their homes, I think God is honored by that.
tlib: What is a dream or vision you have in regards to how your work may impact hearts and souls for Christ?
Sarah: I want women to know that they matter to God, and their service matters to God. We do a lot of things that are unnoticed and feel trivial, but they are not to God. I also want women to be encouraged by God's Word, because it is the only absolute truth in this world. I hope that women in South Asia will be eternally changed through the Bible translation project we support.
tlib: Lastly, for fun, who (living or dead, and besides God) are you most inspired by when it comes to your art?
Sarah: My all time favorite artist is Claude Monet, but I think now I'm most inspired for my t-shirt designs by hand letterers like Lindsay Letters. Our styles are different, but her work is so beautiful.
Sarah, thank you so much for hanging out with us today. I loved hearing your story and learning about the inspiration behind your work!