This last summer I had the rewarding experience of doing a graphic design internship under Marcus Hathcock at East Hill Church Family in Gresham, OR. Marcus Hathcock was the Community Life Director at East Hill for five years and is also the Senior Editor of NewReleaseToday.com, which is one of the leading Christian music websites in the country. Because his faith impacts everything he does, I decided he would be a great person to interview.
Heidi: What is your faith background?
Marcus: Been a Christian since childhood, but made a special, real commitment to Christ in college. I’m a Spirit-filled, born again holiness-seeking Jesus lover who has attended Lutheran, Foursquare and now an evangelical non-denom church.
Heidi: How did you become a graphic artist?
Marcus: I worked as the Communications Director at East Hill Church for five years. Although my background was in writing, I received lots of on-the-job training that deployed my natural artistic tendencies in programs such as Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator.
Heidi: How would you describe what type of graphic work you have done?
Marcus: Mostly promotional, making graphics that support various events, ministries and message series at East Hill. I’d be creating sorts of advertising campaigns for internal and external audiences. This typically would involve lots of photo manipulation, typography and creative layouts.
Heidi: When did your faith ever affect your design?
Marcus: All the time! My goal working for the church was to make everything point to Jesus, or to the biblical principles which we were trying to communicate.
Heidi: How does your faith affect your design?
Marcus: I love symbols. I love allegory and metaphor, so I think when I’m not going for an overt, obvious graphical treatment, I enjoy finding a clever or profound symbolic presentation.
Heidi: What is your design philosophy or process behind your work?
Marcus: Simplicity and accessibility. I want something that’s instantly resonant with audiences. In a world where people are bombarded by hundreds of messages daily, I want something that’s powerful, simple and hits the heart. So while I’m not the most complex user of Adobe programs, I like to think my “less is more” approach has been successful.
Heidi: What are you trying to say with your art and what is your hope to how it will affect and move people?
Marcus: I’m trying to say that Jesus is relevant. I’m trying to say that although the message never changes, the medium must always be open to change. We have to “speak” the same visual language as our audience “speaks.” I hope what I design creates just enough interest for people to take some next step, whether it’s to attend an event, learn more about a volunteer opportunity or investigate about Jesus. I want my design to just crack open the door so others can kick it open.
(Here are some images that Marcus created at East Hill Church Family along with his comments about his work)
9 to 5: Work Matters — This is a series graphic I designed for a series on theology of work. I made it a water cooler because it’s a well-known workplace landmark, and yet, the symbol behind it is that the “water of life” is alive and well at work.
RWFB.png — This graphic was for our New Year connections focus called Resolution Weekend. While many people make resolutions about things that they ultimately will fail at, this event was all about resolving to be committed to community, where true growth occurs. This is a celebratory picture that was made to give people hope that “together, we can change.”
Vision2014 — At East Hill, we’re required to have an annual business meeting, where we review finances and such. Instead, we turned what could be a drab financial talk into an inspiring weekend of where we’ve been, and where we’re going. The imagery here is focused on the mountain, because we’re moving onward and upward. I put several texture filters on the graphic for effect, as well as a lighting effect which represents we’re moving closer and closer to the Light of the World as a church.
Overall, I learned a lot from my internship and I was able to discover more about Marcus’ design philosophy when I had the unique opportunity to interview him. I feel like I can learn a lot from his approach of simplicity and accessibility. These two ideas are key if you want your message and graphic design to stand out. Sometimes the simplicity of designs makes you stand out more and can help people remember your message more. Knowing your audience and the visual language they speak is also incredibly valuable as a designer. In order to make the message of Jesus relevant to the contemporary world we have to use their same visual language. This does not mean lowering our standards or blurring the lines of what we allow into our designs. Our designs should line up with the message of Jesus, but we should find every way possible to make our message the clearest and most accessible and applicable to people’s lives.
Here are some links to his blog and the Christian music website he is part of: