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Author: Michael Buckingham

How to Be Generous without Burning Yourself Out

You love the story of Jesus. You want the church to lead the way in creativity. After all, you serve the One who created it. You see everything that needs to be done… Your ministry team keeps asking and asking… You want to serve them well, so you do it with no time on your hands. You pour yourself out into the work, over, and over, and over. And then you burn out. You find yourself exhausted, with a loss of passion and loss of peace. You still desire to make the church the most creative place on the...

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How to Direct Designers (as a Designer)

My journey began as a designer. Then I started to bring in other designers until I finally figured out I was a business owner. I remember, as a designer, the tension and some of the anxiety of hiring another designer to do my work. I remember waiting for those initial concepts to come in, terrified that they wouldn’t be good enough and I’d have to rescue the project – worried if they were good enough that it would make me less of a designer. Worry, tension, anxiety. I hope through these words I can help you skip some of...

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Why Consistency in Design Matters So Much

“Just Do It”. Everyone knows the slogan and sees a similar picture in their mind. You know it; you trust it. Nike has held that same slogan for 15 years. Reebok has changed their slogan 14 times. Guess who’s leading in shoe sales (and more)? Is it because Nike makes better shoes? I’m sure they would say so, but their status as the leading shoe brand is also about consistency in brand. The more you practice something, the better you get and the more natural it feels. As the saying goes: Practice makes perfect. Consistency works because repetition is...

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The Most Creative Thing I’ve Ever Seen: Michael Buckingham

I’m always looking for creative inspiration. I have files of brochures, handouts from conferences, name badges, and an entire Evernote file just for creative ideas I capture—sometimes in the most obscure places. I can’t go to another church’s services and not take out my iPhone to snap some pictures. As creatives, we constantly have to fill ourselves up with inspiration and new ideas so we can pour them out as we brainstorm the next sermon series or ministry promotion. Some of my favorites are Red Bull’s superhero cans, the Lego bridge, the time Target took over The New Yorker,...

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When it’s Time to Get Feedback

Shark Tank is one of my favorite TV shows. It’s exciting to see the ingenuity and negotiating from people finding a way to take their idea to a whole new level. But sometimes it doesn’t go well. Someone brings out their new gadget, with $2000 in sales and asks for a valuation of 1.5 million dollars. They don’t even have all the answers as to what they’d do with the money they’re asking the sharks to invest or how they can sell more of this amazing gadget. They pitched too soon. Sometimes we do the same thing with our...

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The Cost of Free Creativity

I remember my mom, after cooking a big ol’ chicken dinner for us, would take the chicken carcass (we’re talking bones, skin…the whole bit), add some veggies, a little salt and pepper, and put it all in boiling water and let it cook and cook. It would cook for hours. She then removed the bones and strained it into jars as she smiled, so proud of her chicken stock. It was the leftovers that she made available for other meals. Many are using that chicken stock as their art on Sunday. They’re using one meal’s leftovers for their meal....

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How to Stop Being Micromanaged

When I first received the request asking me to write an article on how to get pastors and leaders to stop micromanaging the artist, my first reaction was to politely decline—for a couple of reasons. I’m still figuring out how to do that. Sometimes I’m that leader. This isn’t an easy issue to tackle—like I said, I’m still working on it—because the person that’s micromanaging doesn’t work for you. They either work with you or you work for them. That makes for a tricky dance. You don’t want to show disrespect and you want them to see you as...

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Fight for Your Work

Make the logo bigger. Use this picture I found on Google. Make it look like this movie. Add my picture to it. Make it pop more. Every artist has been there. It’s frustrating. It feels demoralizing and disrespectful of your abilities and is an ingredient for tension between you and your pastor. So what do you do with the request that isn’t actually a request and more of art direction from someone who doesn’t understand the elements of design? Typically, pastors are more analytical than creative minded. This means they think in order. They view the process as a...

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A Light Within

As I’ve been interviewing and talking to creatives the last few months, one of the questions I ask is for them to lay out their creative process. There are many things I’m looking at as they explain to me how they accomplish creating something; one of those things is how personal they make their work. Too often we see a creative process that looks like this: brief > requirements > sketches > final execution This gets the job done. You can mark it off in Basecamp as completed. But all you’ve really done is completed a project. You haven’t...

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Why Your Pastor Says No

Those of us who create art and ideas dread the word “no”. It feels like mapping out a trip. We pack, we buy tickets for excursions; then we’re told we can’t go. Imagine being seven years old, ready to head to Disney, running downstairs and screaming, “Today is the day, today is the day!”…only to have dad say, “Sorry, we aren’t going. Mommy wants to go to the mall instead.” For the pastor reading this: Please, realize it really feels that crushing. The best ideas only come when we pour our everything into them. When we hear “no”, it’s...

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The Secret to Design Zen

We all struggle to find peace in our chaotic lives and schedules – especially us artists. But the weird thing about artists is that we view the world differently. And though we may not want to admit it, sometimes we thrive in chaos. But even with our unique wiring, we can find “design zen” – or at least moments where we get lost in our art and find peace through creation. But it can’t start with our art. It has to start with our soul. We get to tell the greatest truths about God through art. If we aren’t...

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Turning a Pastor’s Dream Into Reality

Creating something that looks and sounds great is one thing, but creating something substantive that supports a vision is a completely different ball game – a ball game where we must show up. The Church has come a long way in the last ten years. When I first started feeling a passion – stirred by a tension – for great creativity in the Church, it was because it was almost non-existent. The secretary had her CD full of clip art and that’s all that was needed. But today, the western Church has embraced the artist and allowed them to...

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