Creation of the Week #49 Created Book by Cory Heimann

In some way we are all artists, we just have to recognize it.
— Cory Heimann

One of my favorite things about Cory is how fascinated he is with the creative spirit. It's his obsession to understand the spiritual nature of creativity, how it functions, and what it's role is in our lives.  The Created book is just one amazing fruit of that obsession, and it is awesome.

The Created Book is a beautiful book about beauty from the wells of wisdom found in the creative expertise of so many amazing creators. If you haven't already pre-ordered a book through the kickstarter, do it now. It got fully funded in one day and the stretch goals are pretty epic, so help him out!

The Battle

What I love about this book is the most is that Cory inadvertently is fighting a battle against a certain set of beliefs that we hold as Westerners. We think that creativity is some handicap that only a select few oddballs get saddled with.  For us, creativity is a great added bonus, but productivity and responsibility are absolute necessity. Our western, american view of human natures says that there are some kinds of people who are creative, and others who are not. 

This book flies in the face of those assumptions.

A lot of people tend to think that Catholic Creatives is really for the art crowed, that it's for hipsters with round glasses who own wacom tablets and use macs. Creativity isn't just about art. In the words of Sam Sorich: "Art isn't just about art, it's about being human." 

This book isn't just about sharing some wisdom from a bunch of creative folks or showcasing some beautiful design. It's a manifesto for the regaining of a creative Church. It's a blueprint for a revival of Catholic culture because it stakes a flag in the ground and says "we are ALL called to be creative." 

The first five words of the Bible are also about creation: “In the beginning, God created.” (Genesis 1:1). That is the beginning of all things. According to Cory: “I realized that's why it's so innate in us to create – because we're sharing in the first thing that God shared that He did,” he said.

Cory didn't just find sacred artists or designers for this book. He called together Catholic architects, chefs, musicians, calligraphers, podcasters, painters, theologians, and teachers. He talked both to artists who are doing specifically Catholic work, and creators who are Catholic but working in the secular world.  That’s because, as Catholic author and philosophy professor Peter Kreeftsays on his page: “We're artists because God is.”

Pope John Paul II in his 1999 letter to artists  he wrote: “Not all are called to be artists in the specific sense of the term. Yet, as Genesis has it, all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life: in a certain sense, they are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece.”

If we want our Church to be the creative masterpiece that we know God intended her to be, we need to take up the mantle of creativity. We need zealous visionaries on fire for their prophetic love for the world to join our God in his ongoing work ofco-creation.

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Cory, more than anyone else I've ever met has taught me by example the love of the act of creation as a participation in God's generative being. There is no one better to draw from such a well of wisdom as Cory, so I'm grateful to him and to all of the community members who participated in this awesome collaboration. I can't wait to put the prints I'm getting with my book up on my wall.

If you guys have not already watched Cory's talk from the CC Summit, do it now. It'll change your life.

Blog by Marcellino D'Ambrosio
CoFounder of Catholic Creatives

Creation of the Week #48 LIFE Collage by Life Teen's Ryan McQuade

This year Life Teen is creating a new series on what it means to value life. Life Teen knows the value of art for both attracting and challenging young people to and with the faith. They got Ryan McQuade on it because we all know that Ryan doesn’t disappoint, and sure enough he blew it out of the water. He designed a collage for each life issue in the series that both sparkle in your eyes and punch you in the gut.

This year Life Teen is creating a new series on what it means to value life. Life Teen knows the value of art for both attracting and challenging young people to and with the faith. They got Ryan McQuade on it because we all know that Ryan doesn’t disappoint, and sure enough he blew it out of the water. He designed a collage for each life issue in the series that both sparkle in your eyes and punch you in the gut.


The primary message behind the series is that being pro-life is much more of a mentality you carry through life than a just a political cause to rally behind. Each life night in the series covers a marginalized group or life issue. Just looking at the collages will tell you that this is not the same kind of ProLife series many of us probably had in our youth groups. This series is going to feature ever so popular topics like immigration, the poor, the death sentence, and assisted suicide. Most of us that are working in the Church know that on the ground in parishes, those topics are not the safest to break open. I’m proud of Life Teen for pushing their youth ministers to talk about these issues and equipping them not just with teaching, but with art.

I asked Ryan why he decided on collage as his medium for this project. This is what he said:

“I’ve never really worked in collage before but I felt it was the right project to try it out on. It was really important to me to show photographs of real people. I didn’t want any of this project to be idyllic. I wanted it to challenge your perception of being pro-life in someway. I’ve been happy to see that working as I get peoples reactions and opinions of the work. It seems that something different stands out to everyone and I’m really excited about that. I hope that it challenges everyone differently.”
— Ryan

Collage is particularly powerful in that it gives the artist the ability to build metaphors into the creation of a single image. Take this image of the prisoner for example.

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The orange wall behind the prisoner’s prisoner’s head is cut out to resemble a halo. A blue cloth is draped over his orange jumpsuit, which is often how Christ is portrayed in traditional icongraphy. A hand in the gesture of blessing in traditional completes the icon, inviting us to see this prisoner as the image of Christ. The symbolism deepens as you notice the white space and numbers behind the prisoner’s head. This recalls the mug shot, a particularly unsettling moment of condemnation. To his right, the arm of a crucifix protrudes and above it the words “death sentence.” Below his arm, the plaque that marked Jesus’ cross is placed. “The King of the Jews.”

We cannot help to see Christ in the image of one of our culture’s undesirables, a black felon condemned to death row. This relationship between Jesus and the prisoner created through the collage leads us to contemplate both the prisoner and Jesus in a new way. We tend to think that “these people are get what they deserve” and are happy that “they are off the streets.” But when I look at this collage, I feel challenged by the question: is that not how people thought of Jesus? A trouble maker? Got what he deserved?

It puts the rejection that Jesus experienced in a whole new light, doesn’t it?

It also makes us consider the death sentence in that new light as well. How can we be so quick to condemn another human being to death when we condemned the most innocent of men, Jesus, to a brutal torturous end. The prisoner and the Christ are drawn together and made one in this image. It’s powerful, it’s beautiful, and it’s alive with meaning. Great work, Ryan. Keep on creating!

Blog by Marcellino D'Ambrosio
Cofounder of Catholic Creatives

Creation of the Week #47 Elissa Voss' Verily Magazine Shoot

Elissa Voss is an incredible photographer. I keep realizing this every time I see one of my friends get married. Chances are if you want to FSU or Ave Maria, she probably took all of your friend's wedding shots. So, hi five Elissa for cornering the Catholic wedding market. That's probably the best wedding market to be in since we tend to do a lot of them. Incidentally, now that I'm actually on my way to getting married, weddings photos are starting to look a lot less alike, so I'm actually beginning to really appreciate what all of you go through that brave the harrows of wedding photography. In any case, Elissa has always been awesome, but her most recent shoot for Verily was definitely some next level stuff.
 

Elissa's style is beautiful, nostalgic, and real,  She captures something so deeply of the feminine genius in her work. When I asked her what she was trying to accomplish with the shots, she said: "My focus was to capture the happy and healthy Verily woman through lifestyle images. My hope was to capture the beauty of womanhood and how we interact with others in everyday life, fully alive and loving well." In these shots you don't see some dark brooding woman, sensual and mysterious, you see women just alive and living their femininity in a real way. You really see that with the dinner party shots. "For the female friendship part," she said, "I really wanted to show the beauty of community/intimacy in friendships and how important it is just to 'be' together." That's exactly what Verily is about, women just "being," not trying to impress, not trying to put on a face, just being as they were meant to. Mission accomplished, Elissa!

That style is not so easy to capture, however. There's a lot that had to go into planning this thing, which is one of the biggest reasons I admire this work. If you go through the whole gallery on Elissa's site, you can see just how many sets, models, and wardrobe changes, and props that needed to be worked with. She had to think about light and time of day, which location to hit first, hire models,  and work with them to get authentic looking moments. A shoot like this with so many pieces can very easily fall apart. All it takes is some random unexpected detail to get dropped and you're screwed. Your battery runs out and you realized you left the spare at the last location, your SD card is full and you only bought 5 and you needed 10, you get stuck in traffic on the way to the sunset and by the time you get there its dark... so on and so forth. You get the idea. It's not exactly a cakewalk.

Elissa had to have spent countless hours in the planning for this shoot and it shows. We're proud of you, Elissa! Keep up the good work.

 This shot needs an honorable mention. Erica Tighe volunteered her house and studio for Elisa's shoot. That should be #lifegoals for all Catholic Creatives. May we all create our spaces so beautiful that professional photographers ask us to set up photo shoots in our homes. 

If you want to see more of Elisa's work, go here. If you want to reminisce on last year's CC Summit, or get really really excited about next year's CC Summit, go look at her CC Summit Gallery. It's amazing.

Creation of the Week by
Marcellino D'Ambrosio
CoFounder of Catholic Creatives
 

Creation of the Week #45 Matthew Alderman's UW Catholic Center

Matthew Alderman joined the community last week and posted his designs for the University of Wisconson's Catholic Center. I'm curious how many of us promptly started researching graduate degrees there, because DAMN. This Church is going to be impressive. College students generally get the dregs in terms of Church architecture, but this is going to be an incredible gift to the students there and all of the surrounding neighborhood. I would travel at LEAST 45 minutes to go to mass in this building. 

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I'm not an architect, so I do not have the credibility to critique this building from that field of competence, but I will say this: If our Churches look and feel like shopping malls, UFO's, or Unitarian Universalist "churches" our evangelization efforts will be sluggish and poor at best. Our experience of Mass is the PRIMARY place where we live out our faith. I'm becoming more and more convinced every Sunday that I go to mass that our parish buildings are the starting point for good liturgy.  Architecture affects absolutely everything. Have you ever been to a modern Church in the round where they tried to do Gregorian Chant? It falls on its face. Ever been to any of the Triduum floor at a church sanctuary with a carpeted floor and lit by floodlights? No matter how spiritually rich the liturgy is, if it is encased in a building that inherently contradicts the liturgy's meaning, it is going to feel empty. 

I'm not saying that God is not present or that the Priests holiness or the musician's prayer doesn't matter. I'm just saying that the experience of God will be greatly impaired when the building's grammar denies the truth that is present in the liturgy. 

That is why I'm so excited for to see the people at the University of Madison's Catholic Center investing so much into this beautiful architecture which speaks of God's grandeur and holiness, of the wonder of heaven, and the glory of the Paschal Mystery.  Matthew, great work. We're excited to see more!

Creation of the Week by Marcellino D'Ambrosio
CoFounder of Catholic Creatives

 

Creation of the Week #44 Fabiola Garza's "Coco"

One day I will stop fangirling over Fabi, but that day is not today. For those of you who don't know her, she works at Disney as an illustrator and also illustrated a children's book called "The Boy that became Pope" about the life of JP II that will make you cry. If you don't have it and have kids of the reading age, make that happen asap.

Last week the cover for the new Pixar book is dropped and guess who did the illustration for it? FABI. Yeah. And it's amazing.

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The detail on this thing is incredible. I love how everything Fabi does looks like she captured it at the golden hour. It's all motion, light, and life. This cover captures that especially well. All of the lines in this image lead to Coco (presumably the boy?) and his dog, leading the eye towards his face and give us a feeling of some great and exciting adventure which awaits right off page.  Both characters are mid-stride, plunging into the leaves in a playful and excited gait. This scene could have so easily been so boring as to be stupefyingly bland: A boy with a guitar and a dog in Mexican town." Fabi, however, makes this scene extraordinary, magical, and full of emotion. I love it. Fabi, we're proud of you! Keep repping Jesus out there in the real world by being amazing at what you do.
 

 


By Marcellino D'Ambrosio

CoFounder of Catholic Creatives
Michief Maker at Sherwood Fellows

 

Creation of the Week #43 Creation of the Week Diego Diaz' Augustinian Recollects Branding

Good design is universal.

As Catholics, we believe that beauty isn’t simply a matter of how you grew up, what age group you fit into, and what language you speak. There is a subjective experience that you bring to the table every time you see or hear art or music, but there is something objective to art.

That is the standpoint from which I want to approach Diego Diaz’ branding project for the Augustinian Recollects. It is a significant work. It is deeply meaningful in its symbolism, very attractive even on first glance, and easily recognizable in all its forms. Any American high school kid would scroll up on Instagram, give it a double tap and call it a day. But Diego Diaz didn’t design this for American kids. He designed it for an order of Augustinians in Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Guatemala.

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely believe that our culture hugely influences the way we look at art and this is especially true of branding. Just look at the way that people experience soda differently when they are shown it’s a coke. That said, design principles are part of the practical reality of composition. Certain color combinations look better. Whether you’re from Nigeria or from Scandinavia, the color wheel still applies. Contrast matters to anyone that can see, taste, or hear or feel. The Golden Ratio works every time whether you intend to use it or just happen to use it because it’s a part of nature. There are some objective rules that govern what we find beautiful and what we find inauthentic and ugly. I think Diego, along with many other designers in the community from South America show just how universal excellence in design really is.

Diego’s site says that he designed this identity to represent St. Augustine's charism, “the search for truth, service to the community, and the love for God without conditions. Colors and aesthetics are linked to the cultural identity that's manifested in each flag of the province's nations.”  In addition, he writes about how the search for truth and the church mission part was associated with exploration, which leads them to draw inspiration from maps and compasses.

Here are the criteria by which I judge a logo’s success or failure:

  1. It needs to reflect your organization’s "why" in a single, simple form.

  2. It must be distinguishable in positive and negative. This necessitates the use of negative space.

  3. It must be able to be represented in black and white.

  4. It must be distinguishable at the size of a penny, and still look amazing blown up on a billboard.

  5. It must last for at least 10 years, but probably more.

I think it’s safe to say Diego achieves each of these marks. Everything about this brand conveys energy, exploration, and friendliness while saying at the same time “take me seriously, I’m legit.” It speaks to the core values of the religious order and incarnates their "why" effectively. It has great contrast so it looks good in positive and negative and works in black and white. It’s simple and balanced, so it preserves its effectiveness no matter what size you view it at. It’s elegant and fashionable, not simply trendy, so it'll last for many years with a minimal need to update. 

Keep rocking and rolling, Diego. You make us all proud to be Catholic by doing great design, brother. Keep it up!


By Marcellino D'Ambrosio

CoFounder of Catholic Creatives
CoFounder of Sherwood Fellows

 

Creation of the Week #42 Therese Bussen's NFP in Real Life

In honor of NFP Awareness Week, which begins July 23, let’s talk about sex.
— Therese Bussen

What a great way to start an article! Bravo, Therese. For those of you who don’t know Therese, she’s a journalist at Denver Catholic. She used to blog for FOCUS and was known for her authentic, vulnerable writing. She has a knack for taking conversations that are simmering on the periphery and bringing them into the forefront of Catholic conversation.

That’s why I picked this article. It’s not necessarily the most personally vulnerable or edgy piece I’ve ever read on NFP, but it is the first honest article that wrestles with the lived experience of NFP I’ve read by a Diocesan news outlet.

I believe that the Church is entering a new season in its life. For lack of better terminology, I’ll call it the post-Culture War Era. For the last half century, the Church in America has been fighting the Culture War. We’ve been primarily concerned with defending the faith, and doing so through politics and apologetics. There is a place for both in the life of the Church, but they were over-emphasized to the detriment of the lived experience of discipleship.

We fought tooth and nail to prove to Protestants and the rest of the world that we were right and they were wrong, never mind the fact that the music at our parish is terrible, the architecture is laughable, the homilies are boring and unrelatable, and that our parishioners are leaving in droves. We would cover over these things by saying things like: “If people just understood the mass better, the mass would stop being boring.” I’ve been Catholic my whole life and was raised by a theologian. Sometimes mass is boring, and when that happens, it’s usually because the liturgy was unintentional and bland, not because I didn’t know enough about transubstantiation. The post-Culture War Church is pausing for a second and wondering why our arguments aren’t being effective. It’s a great opportunity to take a good hard look at our reflection in the mirror. We’re haggard, wrinkled, disheveled, and look like we haven’t showered in 2000 years.

We got so caught up in arguing that we lost our ability to look at ourselves and acknowledge the messiness of Catholicism’s lived experience. Thankfully, this is changing.

It’s changing because modern man doesn’t want perfect, white-washed, meticulously proven facts anymore. The culture has changed. After a couple centuries of massively up-heaving warfare, industrialization, globalization, the internet, and big marketing, we’ve grown disillusioned with our rational ability to understand and be sure of anything. We’ve come into contact with a rich diversity of beliefs, a multitude of contrary ideas and thoughts. We are suspicious of every message, and test its perceived value not by the air tightness of its argument, but by the authenticity of its bearer.

Struggling with our faith, and showing that struggle is actually what humanity in the post-Culture War Era is looking for.
Those who try to live NFP in their marriages struggle. That’s the truth. We have to be OK with showing that, or else we will have NO credibility with a world who’s done with perfection. We have to show our wrestling so that those of us who struggle don’t feel like we’re alone. We have to show it so that we can give others insight into the actual lived actions and perspectives that can carry us through their own trials.

That’s why I love that Therese Bussen is willing to go there and open up the conversation to the Diocese of Denver and to the rest of the world.

Keep on wrestling with the reality of the lived gospel, Therese. You are giving us all a voice.


By Marcellino D'Ambrosio

CoFounder of Catholic Creatives
Michief Maker at Sherwood Fellows

 

When You Work for Free It Hurts You and Me

Written by Jesse Weiler

We Catholics have a hard time making the ask. Just talk to almost any FOCUS missionary. In fact, I tried fundraising my salary for a year when I worked at a Catholic organization.

Instead of trying to raise more money to fit my needs, I ended up adjusting my needs to what I could fund raise. This is a bad mentality, especially if you are a creative freelancer with a family.

I’m writing this because I’ve come across too many of you who are just not charging what you should for your work. If you make a little adjustment, then you will not only help yourself, but you’ll help the rest of us too.  
 
Now, maybe you do contract work full time or maybe you are like me and use freelancing as a way to pad your income a little. I bring in anywhere between $10k–15k a year from contract work. This wasn’t always the case for me though. I used to make less than half of that with about the same amount of hours worked.

What changed? My attitude. I stopped thinking about helping and started thinking about working.
 
This may sound like a selfish switch and it may even sound like an insignificant switch. However, I assure you that if you do this, you will see a growth in your business and your income.

When you only think about helping someone when they hire you, three things happen:

  1. You significantly reduce the dignity of your work.
  2. You turn yourself into a patron instead of a contractor.
  3. You perpetuate the vicious cycle of low pay for creative work.

When creatives do this, it sends a message that our work is not worth paying for. People end up making more of a donation rather than an income and ruin future work for everyone else. (Fiverr doesn't help much either.)

We seem to be especially prone to this as Catholic creatives when it comes to "helping" Catholic organizations.
 
This is not good. Not good at all.
 
If this is something you struggle with, the first step to switching your mentality is to figure out your rate. Do you charge a flat fee for each project or do you have an hourly rate? There are tons of tools online that can help you figure this out. One thing to note; if you are full time, you should charge more than someone who is part time, especially if you are paying for your own insurance.
 
The second step is to stick to that rate! If you’ve done cheap work for a regular client in the past just tell them that you’ve done a skills assessment and that you have a new rate. If they like your work, they’ll try to figure out how to pay you still.

Results will vary, but I can honestly tell you that I have never been turned down because of my new price. I charge $100/hr with discounts if I’m hired for more than 20 hours of work. If you lose work because of your new rate, then just keep in mind that when you charge more per hour/project then you need less work to reach your desired income.
 
I used to charge $40/hr and it took me 250 hours to reach $10K.
Now I charge $100/hr and it takes me 100 hours to reach $10K.
 
For me, this means 150 extra hours with my kids and no loss in income. It’s a no-brainer.

Stop helping organizations and start working for them!

The Pillars of the Catholic Creatives Community

We've been working hard on distilling our core beliefs. We believe that these are the beliefs that have been leading our decisions as an organization, and that they have arisen from the organic conversations arising through the group. I'd love to use these to start a conversation with the larger community. Give us your thoughts!  
 

1. We Were Made to Create

The first five words - “In the beginning, God created.” In Christ we are co-creators and co-redeemers in creation. We create because it is our identity, our prayer, and our mission. The Catholic Creative lives to bring meaning to a directionless world, to bear Christ’s light into the dark places of humanity, and to solve the problems of the modern age through the power of the Catholic imagination.

2. Community First

The Catholic life is the life of relationship. CC must first be the family dinner table, a place of communion, friendship, joy, and unity. We believe that the most important thing we can do is foster a family ecology where creatives find belonging, spiritual nourishment, and are organically connected to the network of learning, mentorship, and patronage they need to be healthy and to grow.

3. There is More than Enough

Scarcity mindset causes us to see each others’ victories as our losses. It inhibits trust and is a barrier to vulnerable community. We believe that our God is rich. We see eternal abundance in Christ’s miracles; 12 baskets of leftovers, wine that overflows. We believe there is more than enough for all of us. We trust in His providence. This means we are not afraid to collaborate, encourage, uplift, and share with one another

4. Speak the Unspoken

“But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.”

Speak the Unspoken means always speaking the truth in love no matter how uncomfortable it is. It means listening to the truth even when it’s hard. It means embracing conflict, because only through conflict can we grow.

5. Beauty is The Language of God

We believe that the greatest power for social change in the world is beauty. Beauty is the incarnation of the Truth, a sensual experience of abstract realities. We believe that beauty in this definition is God’s preeminent communication because the Word took on flesh. Christ crucified is the ultimate expression of God’s Divine Imagination.

This means that we must value beauty financially. We must be willing to not only be martyrs for the truth but martyrs for beauty, selling all we have for the beautiful pearl.

Creation of the Week #41 Father Tansi's Garden

This has been a hard past few weeks. I've been wrestling with deep dissatisfaction with myself. I've been drinking from the barrel of self doubt and just trying to see if it has a bottom. It doesn't.

There are times when I really don't want to face the world, and times when I want to face this community even less, when I open a fresh Google Doc and stare at it for an hour and hit the backspace more than any other key. Today is a day like that.

I've been listening to Fr. Tansi's record, Garden, and I've really needed it. It's been speaking to me in some vulnerable places and I can't say thank you enough to Fr. Tansi and to all of the people at Renewal in Motion who were a part of making it happen. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. You were there for me today. 

I feel like Fr. Tansi is opening up a secret door into the garden of his own prayer, into his dialogue with a God who loves him, who's proud of him, and who is eminently present. Especially in "Rising," and "Rest." Often when I'm struggling to believe that about God and about myself, the pathway out has been encountering God's love through someone else's invitation into their own experience of the Divine. 

Garden is a work that does that for me. It's not just the arrangements, the vocals, the melody, the instrumentation...all of these are worthy of recognition. It's the heart that's behind it all.

It's beautiful in every way. Even the album art, which was done by Daniela Madriz, one of my personal heroes. 

Thanks again to you guys at Renewal in Motion for being so awesome. We love you guys!


By Marcellino D'Ambrosio

CoFounder of Catholic Creatives
Michief Maker at Sherwood Fellows

 

The Catholic Creative Defined

What is a Catholic Creative?

A Catholic Creative is a working or aspiring creative professional with a fire in their gut and a passion for re-imagining the world through heaven’s eyes. Put another way, a Catholic Creative is a Catholic who makes it their job to ask the question: “What could be?” every time they are confronted with “What is.” 

So… What is a Creative?

“Creative” doesn’t necessarily mean artist. And it doesn’t mean someone separate from business. It means a person who creates. This creation doesn’t have to be graphics or videos. The creation can be a business, or the design of a building, or dance program. We’re not going to limit the act of creation to just the arts or media. 

Why do Catholic Creatives Create?

Because We Were Made To

We Create because it is part of who we are. We were made in the image of a Creative God. We create because we believe that what we make has agency in our lives. It is a part of our prayer and a part of our heart's waking.

Because It’s Our Mission

The Catholic Creative creates out of a sense of mission. The Catholic Creative lives to bring meaning to a directionless world, to bear Christ’s light into the dark places of humanity, and to solve the problems of the modern age through the power of the Catholic imagination.

How do Catholic Creatives Create?

Through Incarnating the Truth

A centerpiece of our community has always been a conviction of the preeminence of beauty as the language of God. We create with the understanding that beauty holds a special and high role in God’s plan to encounter humanity and draw us into a relationship with Him. We do not define beauty narrowly - it is not only pretty, nice, romantic (although it can be those things), but it can also be startling, dark, and uncomfortable. Beauty is the incarnation of truth, a sensual experience of abstract realities. We believe that beauty in this definition is God’s preeminent communication because the Word took on flesh. Christ in human form is the ultimate expression of God’s Divine Imagination. 

Therefore, beauty will be integral to each and every discussion we have and everything we create, whether we're discussing solutions to the financial system, Facebook ad sets, building a brewery, or designing a logo. Whatever we do, we seek to incarnate depths of meaning through beauty.

Through Valuing Creativity

“Show me your bank statement and I’ll show you your theology.”

A Catholic Creative is someone who recognizes fair monetary value of work as an essential part of what will progress beauty in the world, enabling our creators to grow and raise the bar. While a Catholic Creative doesn't necessarily need to be a full-time professional, a CC needs to believe in the inherent monetary value in beauty and creativity. 

Who isn’t a Catholic Creative?

As an organization, we’re focused on cultural impact both inside the Church and outside of it. This means that we are committed to excellence by all standards, not just Catholic ones. We believe that in order to make this kind of impact, we must dedicate real time and passion towards it. The Catholic Creative does not create simply as a hobby, but as a way of life. 

The Catholic Creative, then, is called to be a witness in the world - working in the world while not being of it. This means that for the Catholic Creative creation is tied to the way we make our money and the way we spend it, whether you approach this as a creative a parent, a creative manager, a creative business owner,  or a creative minister.

What Does this Mean for the Community?

1. A Wider Net

We've gone back and forth about whether this community was a community for artists, specifically for new media creators, and what role Ministers played in the group. Defining who this community is for as we've articulated in this blog means clearer communication, more focused conversations, and ultimately, more focus on our audience. We aren't just a professional organization of artists or designers or filmmakers. There's room for anyone with the DNA listed above and we truly believe that you can come from any background or any profession. Some lend themselves to what we are doing more than others, but that doesn't need to be a stumbling block as long as you aren't afraid of questioning a consensus and believe in leading with beauty. 

2. New Guidelines to Facilitate Creative Conversations

We are re-committing ourselves to being the safest place for asking questions in which every option is put on the table and no sacred cows are left un-slain. Our guidelines for discourse will ultimately be laid out more clearly in order to facilitate this and will flow from our beliefs as listed above. We will be bringing on a wider assembly of podcast guests, and creating a richer experience at our live events as a wealth of more diverse perspectives join with even more fundamental core convictions.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts! 
Email Marcellino at hello@catholiccreatives.org with feedback, ideas, or comments.

 

This statement is the work of community members Emma Moran, Conor Hennelly, Chris Duffel, Anthony D'Ambrosio and Marcellino D'Ambrosio. 


 

 

Creation of the Week #40 Glass Canvas' Anthem Philly Rebrand

There have not been many moments in my life where my jaw has literally dropped in amazement after perusing a Catholic ministry's website.  Last week when Anthem Philly went live, I stared at my screen for at least 4:33 seconds in disbelief.

These were the thoughts that ran through my mind when I saw this:

"This is Catholic?! THERE'S NO WAY!"

"When is my Diocese going to let me do something like this?"

"Who did this?... of course. Glass Canvas. Of course it was."

"I can not believe Bishop Chaput let them do this!"

Then I looked at the blog titles and my jaw dropped even further. At this point, I'm pretty sure I could have swallowed my desktop whole.

"I don't have my {poop emoji} together?" EDGY, Anthem Philly, edgy. Did you think I would fall for that click bait? DID YOU?
Well. I did. And I read the whole thing, which I NEVER do.

As you can tell, I think this brand the good people at Anthem Philly have adopted is freaking fantastic and puts every other diocesan rebrand I've ever seen to shame. Let me tell you two reasons why:

1. Clarity

They've clearly defined what their mission is, and who it's to.  At least 75% of the effort in my ministry when I was a youth minister was wasted because of a lack of clarity. I don't think it's just conjecture to say that most other ministries suffer from the same thing. We have bake sales that take a week to prep and raise $80, we have 3 retreats a year, a mission trip, Steubenville Conferences and DCYC's, small group ministries, discipleship programs....etc. We try to reach out to parents, to young adult core members, to punks, gangsters, bro's, and homeschooled Catholics and every other category of kid. I learned the hard way: when we try to make our ministries relevant to everyone, instead we make them relevant to no one. 

Generally, I've found that the more responsibility an organization has, the less clarity it operates with. Diocesan ministries, then, are some of the worst offenders in this category. They often don't know if they are trying to minister to the ministers or directly to the youth themselves. They don't know if they should fade into the background or lead the charge, going back and forth between the two.

Anthem Philly, on the other hand, knows EXACTLY who they are trying to reach.
Check out their brand manifesto.

Anthem Philly is calling young people back into belonging in the Church. That means they need to brand themselves in a way that they will be seriously considered by those who do NOT feel they belong in the Church. In doing so, Anthem is waving the banner for the whole Diocese, giving vision and setting the example for all of them.

I also love the language they use on their about page:
"It’s our passion to see youth ministers killin’ it in their roles serving the youth in Philly. We provide training and support to make sure they get the encouragement and backup they need."

Youth & Young Adult ministers are not known for being buttoned up professorial types. It usually takes someone who is pretty rough around the edges to dive into ministry. This site isn't speaking some political diocesan jargon or high-minded systematic theology. They are speaking the down to earth, rough around the edges language that youth & young adult ministers ACTUALLY USE. The tone so many ministers get from their Diocesan office says: "We're here to tell you what to do." In using this language and brand, Anthem Philly is saying: "We love you, we get you, and we want to help."

2. Raw, authentic outreach.

All too often, in ministry, we hide our true selves behind teaching, behind scripture, behind everyone else's story but our own for fear of being vulnerable or "making the ministry about us." It's the absolute worst thing we could ever do. Used car salesmen do the same thing. They'll tell you everything there is to know about that car they're trying to sell you. They'll tell you about how awesome you'll feel driving this model and sing its praises to high heaven. Have they ever driven it themselves? No. Would they ever buy it themselves? Hell no.

Jesus came and testified to the one who had sent him. Then he sent his disciples to do the same thing. We were sent to bear witness to Him who we know personally, not sell young people a set of doctrines that will make their lives better. In an age that is increasingly cynical about religion, the only chance we have to the younger generations is to speak to them from personal experience, to witness to the God who saved us from our own desperate struggle. 

This is why Anthem's brand is so amazing. It's gritty, It's real, and It's going to speak deeply to the audience they've targeted. 

Bravo, Anthem Philly. Good work. We hope many more Dioceses will notice and follow suit. 


By Marcellino D'Ambrosio

CoFounder of Catholic Creatives
Creative Director of Sherwood Fellows