I’ve been a subscriber to Discipleship Journal (www.navpress.com/dj.asp) for years. I have always appreciated DJ's approach and attention to the art in its pages. Along with excellent editorial content, the art draws me in and keeps me signing up every year.
Today and Thursday of this week, I’m featuring the Art Director of Discipleship Journal, Adele Mulford.
LeAnne: Discipleship Journal has long led the field of Christian magazines in employing art in an intentional way. Why is art important to the magazine?
Adele: DJ’s mission is to help our readers grow in Christ, and our editorial team works hard to support that objective. I believe it’s also important that the visuals in the magazine should also work to inspire and enrich our readers in their walk with Christ. It’s not just my mission to make the pages of the magazine look pretty, or vaguely support the idea in the article, but they should speak to the heart, mind, and spirit of our readers. Thankfully, our whole magazine staff has embraced this idea, and we share a mutual enjoyment of the artwork in the magazine. So, our magazine continues to make choices that reinforce the visual mission of the magazine. It’s fun and liberating to work in an environment like that.
LM: Who are some artists you’ve worked with?
AM: I work with a few Christian artists I really love:
Makoto Fujimura is amazing: www.makotofujimura.com
I also love Nicora Gangi: www.machairastudio.com. [LeAnne’s Note: I featured Nicora two weeks ago. See her interview on April 2nd and 5th.]
Michael Lontenero, who is represented by Scott Hull: www.scotthull.com
Scott Laumann is a wonderful artist: www.scottlaumann.com
Matthew Baek, who is represented by Donna Rosen: www.donnarosenartists.com
Suzy Schultz. She does gorgeous watercolor.
LM: What has been the response of readers through the years to the art?
AM: It’s interesting to see the variety of responses we get. I’ve designed for Christian magazines for over a decade, and I am still surprised at the resistance I’ve sometimes seen amongst fellow believers in embracing the idea that visual art is a worth the effort. We’ve had readers tell us that wasting money on artwork in the magazine is poor stewardship. We’ve had readers tell us that they don’t care at all about the visuals and wonder why we put an emphasis on it. I recall a reader who told us that she would prefer the magazine without visuals at all (which I find hard to believe).
I can understand why artwork can create tension amongst our viewers. Sometimes, the purpose of artwork is to provoke thought or to agitate a person out of complacency. So the power of artwork can feel threatening at times. I think that some Christians have observed the negative aspect of this and therefore are quick to place all art in the same category. I can sympathize with that kind of perception. I believe in harnessing the power of artwork for telling the Good News and believe that God has a heart for recapturing the arts for His glory. My hope is that I can gently bring our readers alongside this path toward understanding the gift of the visual arts.
Thankfully, many of our readers do catch the vision of our love and support of the arts. I’ll occasionally get letters from a reader that talks about how a particular piece of artwork spoke to them, and that really makes my day!