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Ned Bustard: Embracing Beauty

If your circles of influence intersect with an artist or designer, I encourage you to spend as much time with them as their schedule allows.

If that creative individual is a reader and reflects deeply upon their relationship with Jesus Christ, you will have found someone who will challenge your thinking and show you a way to look the world, your work, and faith through the lenses of beauty and truth.

Ned Bustard is a friend, colleague, and co–conspirator in the movement to bring truth to life through design and beauty.

As a designer and illustrator, he draws from story to bring life to images and reveals images that bring stories to life. His work surprises and delights, whether it’s to convey truth or bring a smile to the face of a child.

He’s collaborative and inventive, building upon collaborations to expand ideas. Ned brought Luckey Haskins to life for my first children’s book, and we’ve collaborated on projects for CIVA and Aespire.

Ned would say, “I’d like to meet the guy you just described.” Witty and graciously self-deprecating, consider this response to his calling: “As I grew in my understanding of the scope of the Bible’s teaching on vocation, I saw my calling as a graphic designer as a way to bring glory to God.”

2 Thessalonians 1:11 reads, " So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his calling. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do."

How is your creative work, Square Halo Gallery, Worlds End— (The Bustard Empire) a response to a prompting of your faith? Exactly how big is the Bustard Empire?

“The "Bustard Empire" (as you hilariously call it) feels like it is a mile wide and an inch deep. I do a bunch of things, and some of them are even profitable! My day job is as a graphic designer for World’s End Images and Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA).”

“I am also, at various times, a children’s book illustrator, author, and a printmaker. Some of the books I've written, illustrated, or edited include It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of GodSqualls Before War: His Majesty’s Schooner SultanaThe Chronicles of Narnia Comprehension GuideBede’s History of MEHistory of Art: Creation to ContemporaryThe Reformation ABC’s, and Bigger on the Inside: Christianity and Doctor Who.

“I'm also the creative director for Square Halo Books, Inc., curator of the Square Halo Gallery, and I serve on the boards of the Association of Scholars of Christianity in the History of Art (ASCHA) and The Row House, Inc. I am a ruling elder in a church I helped plant called Wheatland, and I plan the worship services for our congregation there each week.”

“These pursuits are prompted by my faith in Jesus Christ. When I was younger, I accepted the muddled theology that said there was spiritual work and unspiritual work—I could be a pastor or I could do a pagan job.”

“Thankfully, I didn't stay at that spot. Michael S. Horton wrote in Where in the World is the Church? A Christian View of Culture and Your Role in It, “The Reformation freed Christian men and women to pursue their divinely appointed callings in the world with dignity and respect, without having to justify the usefulness of those callings to the church or its missionary enterprise.” As I grew in my understanding of the whole scope of the Bible’s teaching on vocation, I saw my calling as a graphic designer as a way to bring glory to God.“

2 Thessalonians continues: (1:12) Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him."

You're prolifically creative (is that even a phrase?) and often depict ideas and images that may make people uncomfortable or force them to see things differently. How do you think this brings honor to Jesus?

“I don't set out to make people uncomfortable, but I know that I must. One of my clients will often say with a laugh, "Can you make this design a little less NEDgy?" I did intentionally push the envelope when I created Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups. But I feel like I had a good reason for my controversial curatorial choices. Our society is too comfortable with what we think the Bible says. Or we dismiss it as arcane and irrelevant.”

“I want people to take the Bible seriously, and see that it speaks to every facet of human experience. So when I curated and edited that project I looked for all of the scripture passages that are avoided in pleasant conversation, and had all the best printmakers I know take a stab at illustrating them. “Seeing is the starting point!” as my art historian friend Linda Stratford has remarked. I want people to see the glorious Truth in the Bible, and in the world around them. I want Goodness drawn in “large and startling figures,” as Flannery O'Connor said. And I work toward embracing Beauty in all its various shapes and sizes.”

“As to how all this would bring honor to Jesus, I think a train honors its designer by traveling fast on train tracks. I was designed to make and be creative in a way to reflect my Maker and demonstrate His goodness to the world—whether that goodness is politically correct or not. I may not always be an artist or author or whatnot, but I will always be reflecting some aspect of Jesus since that is God's intent for his adopted kids.”

“In the Westminster Shorter Catechism it says that Christ had three offices or jobs—Prophet, Priest, and King ("Christ, as our Redeemer, executeth the offices of a prophet [Deuteronomy 18:15], of a priest [Psalm 11:4], and of a king [Psalm 2:6], both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation."). Although I've seen myself used in the church in all three ways, I think most of my gifts lie in the category of prophet.”

“As a prophet (and a very minor one at that!) I want my work to reach people whose "eyes they have closed" and communicate the Truth in a Good and Beautiful way, so that it can eventually be said of them, "blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear." In that way, I hope I can model the Prophet-Christ, and so bring him honor.”

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