Project: Hand Lettering Editorial Illustration

Client: Christianity Today Magazine

Art Director: Sarah Gordon


The focus of the magazine article we were tasked to provide an illustration for was a theological deconstruction of an often misunderstood verse from the bible, John 10:10.

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy" – Jesus

Our solution to this challenging project was to visually define who this verse is talking about. Historically the answer has been the obvious, Satan. But our artwork ultimately aligns with the true identity as concluded in the article, false teachers. Within Christendom this is a very sensitive issue and we had to side step a few problems visually to solve it. 

What follows below is how our creative process played out as we developed and delivered the final artwork. 


Original Sketch: I have to say I loved our initial sketch. The shape associations for some of the letter forms made for a fun read and aligned with the underline premise of the article. But the publisher thought it was too intense with the noose, gun, and skull. They also had a problem with showing a figure of a preacher. They felt people would read into it and align it with a real persona. So they asked us to re-work the sketch, add the phrase "Who comes to" and figure out another way to reveal the true identity of the verse.

Revised Sketch: We were able to keep much of the same foundation for the lettering and added the additional wording easy enough. The hardest part of this project was figuring out what to do instead of a preacher. That's when a wolf in sheep clothing came to mind, and I immediately knew that was going to work well and add the aggressiveness needed all without offending anyone in the process. We were able to retain many of the same shape associations in the letterforms as well. The client approved it.

Building Vector Artwork: When we draw out a design, we try to think of building it and use the drawing as our roadmap for constructing the shapes in our designs or this case lettering. Along the way, we adjust spacing and tweak form to improve our visual narrative though. We focus on perfecting the shape and spacing both negative and positive before we begin coloring. We call this phase our base vectors.

Final Artwork: The finished illustration was used in a two-page spread bleeding off the edges. We wanted to play up the whole idea that false teachers degrade and corrupt so we decided to texturize the design. This topic is a messy one, and we felt it was an appropriate aesthetic to move towards in our final artwork. The client loved it, and so did we.

Editorial Magazine Spread: The final two page spread.