Step into his office with me now…
Alternate Arts: You’re a visual artist. What media do you utilize? What’s your favorite media?
Ned: Most of my work is done on the computer using the Adobe Creative Suite. Most of my work starts out as a scribble on a piece of paper that gets scanned into the computer and then is manipulated. I have embraced printmaking for my personal artwork. I really enjoy making linocut prints. I feel like that medium best suits my visual aesthetic.
Alternate Arts: Which artists have particularly influenced you and why?
Ned: Irish monks and German woodcut artists from the Middle Ages—I grabbed onto those looks and have been returning again and again to look at and mimic what they did. After that, Sadao Watanabe, Van Gogh, Warhol (see the book on his religious works), Rouault, Chagall, Edward Knippers, Mako Fujimura, Charlie Peacock, Emigre, and David Carson (positively and negatively—that would require some time to explain.)
Alternate Arts: What work of art, or a book, movie, song etc. has impacted you the most emotionally? Could you describe that experience?
Ned: Choosing the most important work of art to me is like picking which of my children I love the best. It can’t be done. The Chronicles of Narnia has had the largest and longest impact on me. It has swept me up and baptized my imagination. I recently finished reading it to my youngest daughter and was brought to tears at the end. She had to read the last paragraph. Some movies I’ve enjoyed enough to watch multiple times include Babette’s Feast, Monty Python’s Holy Grail, Fahrenheit 451, The Secret of Roan Inish, the Bond movies, and The Gods Must be Crazy. My favorite television has been Hogan’s Heroes, Northern Exposure, The Doctor Who series, Foyle’s War, and Sherlock. “One Thing” by Charlie Peacock was sung by Charlie Peacock at my wedding—that was pretty emotional.
Alternate Arts: As the creative director for Square Halo books, you’ve helped published many very interesting and useful books, including It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God, which you edited. How does Square Halo determine which projects to publish? How does that process drive the overall mission of Square Halo?
Ned: We ask of each project: Does this fit the mission of the company? Is it a good book? Is it True? Is it needed by the Church? Do we like it?
Alternate Arts: I understand you’re working on a follow-up book to It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God. Could you tell me a little bit about that? Potential publish date?
Ned: Our newest book is called Beauty Given by Grace: The Biblical Prints of Sadao Watanabe and it was released last month. But I have been working for several years now on our next release, a sequel of sorts to It Was Good called It Was Good: Making Music to the Glory of God. It will feature over twenty musicians, pastors, and even a church historian all writing on music and faith. We hope to have a collection of songs released with it as well. The plan is for the book to hit the streets sometime in 2013. It includes Charlie Peacock and William Edgar who wrote for the first It Was Good as well as Keith Getty, Mark Foreman, Steven Guthrie, Sandra McCracken, John Patitucci, Vito Aito, Joy Ike and many more. Some of the topics covered in the book include Katy Bowser – Children’s Music, Overtones, Blues, Listening, Fame, Refinement, Rehearsal, and Booking. Square Halo Books is very excited about this project and believe it will become the most important book in our catalog.
Alternate Arts: Could you tell us about some of the other books you’ve been involved with, outside of Square Halo?
Ned: I have made many books for Veritas Press. Squalls Before War was one of my favorites. Recently I illustrated a kids book for Crossway Books called The Church History ABCs. That was a great project and I love the finished project. You can’t always say that about other projects I have worked on.
Alternate Arts: You have your own business, World’s End Images. What are some of the services you offer through World’s End Images? What’s the biggest challenge to running your own business?
Ned: I do book design, branding, website design, illustration, and basic graphic design. The biggest challenge is to stay in the black. I’d do pretty fine if the government didn’t want so much money all the time.
Alternate Arts: You have a reformed faith background and attend a church that has a high regard for reformed doctrine. How does your reformist perspective inform your thoughts on faith and the arts?
Ned: I think it gives me a grid in which to function. Before I understood Reformed theology I knew I liked art but I felt like I had no way to justify doing it.
Alternate Arts: What would you say to encourage Christian artists?
Ned: Test everything and hold on to the good. Stop watching so much TV. Keep working.
Alternate Arts: Do you believe it’s possible for Christians to renew culture though art? If so, how?
Ned: I think anyone filled with the Holy Spirit and working in their vocation with a desire to glorify God is going to change culture. We all make things. If we make more things intended to glorify God it will change culture. I don’t think we can talk about renewing culture. Just making good culture. The good stuff will last and the bad stuff will rot and decay or, ultimately, be burned away.