Article Art by Melissa Watkins

Tools Don’t Make the Designer

Posted by Promise Tangeman on September 01, 2012.

Author: Promise Tangeman

From washing machines to Photoshop to map applications, we have tools for everything and anything we need to do during the day. Breathing, eating and sleeping – I’m sure you can find an app for that too. Tools in every form are such a big part of our lives. Sometimes we become numb to them – defaulting to their services without even thinking about it. Therefore, when we’re crunched for time and in need of a graphic, song, or photograph, we bypass the creative process and automatically go straight to the software in hopes that it will produce award-winning work.

Come on, you know you’ve done it. We sit in front of the computer waiting to be inspired. We may even sit there for hours, move a few squares around, and nothing happens. This is the most frustrating moment. We think that we are cutting corners and saving time, but in reality we are completely relying on the tools to produce our art. That results in stunted creativity, wasted time, and shallow work. For example, if I open a software application without a concept or plan of action I will most likely be aimlessly pushing pixels – only doing what I know how to do in the program. The design will be limited to the knowledge I have for the software and I will completely miss out on the art and the meaning behind the design.

We go straight to Photoshop and bypass the most important tool God has given us – our imagination.

With this default autopilot mentality, we take ourselves out of the equation altogether. We go straight to Photoshop and bypass the most important tool God has given us – our imagination. When this happens, I believe we lose the artist. We lose exactly what makes us different and unique in the world. We begin to create what everyone else is creating.

Many designers have access to Photoshop, InDesign, and the new iPad. But no one else has your mind, your soul, your creativity, or any of the special gifts God has given you. Tools don’t make the designer. The tools are not idea makers. We are responsible for the idea, and the tools are there to make our idea happen – to bring the concept to life.

To avoid giving tools the power over my creativity, I get out a pad of paper, move away from the computer, and begin to use my brain to dream, imagine, and design. Doing this helps me develop a strong concept that isn’t limited by my technical abilities. It helps me create a deeper meaning, pushes me to be a better artist by trying new things, and frees my mind from what I can and can’t do in the program.

Our imagination is what makes us creative, unique, and different.

Our imagination is what makes us creative, unique, and different. Not only do I believe our imagination is important to developing a strong concept, but also our creative collaboration with the founder of creativity itself. I mean let’s be real. God has a pretty impressive portfolio using no tools at all. Speaking the Earth into existence, creating man from dirt, and dreaming up the wacky 6-winged creatures covered with eyes mentioned in Revelation 4:8 are just some examples of God’s jaw dropping level of creativity. It’s fascinating to think that we are created in His image, and therefore, the core of our being is, well, creative. And it rattles my mind that at times we take a pass on consulting and collaborating with God on our everyday projects. I believe the Church’s artists can really stand out and lead all creative industries simply by taking time to collaborate with God.

Understanding the use of my own imagination and the creative collaboration with God are my best tools has really helped me rely on the Lord and trust in Him daily with my business and in the everyday motions of life. It’s also helped me produce more creative and meaningful work – surprisingly, in a more timely and efficient way.

With a solid idea and deeper meaning worked out with God and on paper, I’m now ready to bring the concept to life using my tools at hand. I also have a plan of attack – knowing what techniques I need to research before I pick up my mouse. And when the project is finally complete, I can walk away from my desk confident that what I produced was something entirely from my own mind and heart and have worshiped my Creator in the process.

About the Author

Promise Tangeman
Promise is art director and graphic designer for Promise Tangeman Creative and the founder of Sitehouse Designs, a customizable website shop. She's the daughter of a pastor and wife of worship pastor Brian Wurzell living in Chandler, Arizona.

4 Comments

  1. Good word. This may or may not be the place for this comment but I think as artists, its of utmost importance that we put an emphasis on divine inspiration and revelation. We’re communicators, speaking God’s truth. If what comes out is ‘entirely from my own mind and heart’ then I would judge it to be of no value. Promise, I know this isn’t what you meant, in this sense, but I do think it is a place where some people and myself at times, mistakenly live. Trying muster up creativity and inspiration instead of relying on the “creative collaboration with God”.

    However, if the work I produce comes out of what God has been teaching me as I spend time in intimacy with Him, desperate for His creativity to work itself out through me, then I’m no longer relying on tools or copying the latest trend. I’m creating. Or rather, Christ in me. Right? Just a thought.

  2. I totally agree. 😉 I definitely think that people get too caught up in the tools that actually get the work done. But it’s the message thats most important. The phrase “entirely from my own mind and heart” was referring to actually spending time dreaming, concepting, and collaborating with God as oppose to just copying the lasted trend to get it done. Personally, my desire is that people would actually spend MORE time collaborating with God!

    Thanks for your thoughts Joseph!

  3. Love it. I’ve definitely been caught in that rut of creativity, rather a lack thereof, by not collaborating with God. It takes time…it takes trust that He will guide you. But it’s always a better “product” when done that way. He sees things in us and in or congregation our audience that we cannot see, so it is always worth it to have His perspective.

  4. This is incredible. One of those things that is usually not spoken about but absolutely ‘spot on’. Thank you.


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