The Role Of Graphic Design In The Church with Emily Carlton (PCP059)

Emily Carlton joins the Pro Church Podcast to discuss the role of graphic design in the church and shares a ton of incredible design resources.

May 5th, 2015

Emily Carlton has been passionate about graphic design since she was a child, and followed her heart to learn design in college, create design for churches, work in the corporate design field, and freelance at her own website Emily Carlton. Emily discusses her passion for graphic design and the idea that passion doesn’t necessarily translates to hyper-intensity, because the best church design isn’t always the one that’s right in your face.

What’s In This Session?

  • What is it about graphic design that you love? (15:06)
  • What role does design play in the church? (16:26)
  • The most basic requirements for church graphic design (18:22)
  • What are some mistakes you see churches making with their designs? (23:05)
  • How churches can improve their design efforts (29:10)
  • Emily’s best graphic design tips (34:05)

Show Notes & Resources Mentioned




3 Instant Takeaways

  1. Think of graphic design as a kind of problem-solving. The specific design that emerges in any situation is the answer to the needs of the situation. Emily suggests diving in and getting to know the particulars of a situation, and then depend on your God-given ability to create something that provides a needed design solution. She believes that design can help people to understand the Gospel more clearly than they would otherwise.  This is true even if the design isn’t overly noticeable.  In its subtlety, good design still highlights the church’s mission. But it is always important to STAY CONSISTENT. Whether there is one person or a whole team, the staff should know what they want to accomplish, with a clear goal and mission so design stays consistent across the board.
  2. Every church should have a logo of some kind. This helps those on the outside identify you. Anytime your church is involved in the community, people see your logo and become familiar with you, creating recognition of who you are and what you do. After the logo, the church can build a simple color or font brand based on the logo. Emily says you don’t have to be “in-your-face” with branding or design. No one wants to see the church as pushy or over-hyping. Branding shouldn’t be about marketing; it should be about identity.
  3. Don’t just copy other people. Emily sees a lot of imitation because there are so many design tutorials available online. As well, large successful corporations create a brand, and the church feels that aping some corporate look will make them successful too. This isn’t the way to go about finding a unique design that focuses on your own audience. Ideally, the church should be on the edge of creativity, rather than simply copying what they’ve seen elsewhere. With the accessibility of design tools nowadays, just about anyone can piece together a decent look. While this is a positive thing, it can lead to mass market lack of individuality. There is integrity in not simply copying someone else’s design, but using it as a jumping-off point to your own creative work.