Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Art Is Essential for Life

There are people, including some Christians, who view the arts as a frivolous indulgence, especially in times of economic difficulty. If they consider that the arts have any value at all, they believe the arts to be valuable only insofar as they can be used to teach people or manipulate people or preach to people. In other words, their appreciation of the arts, if it exists at all, is strictly utilitarian.

I just came across a very good article, published in Christianity Today two days ago, which addresses the aforementioned fallacy. Incidentally, the portion of the article consisting of a quotation from Karl Paulnack is the portion from which the title of this blog post was derived.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Share Your Faith with ATCs

In recent years, a new trend has developed in the art world, specifically (but not exclusively) in relation to amateur artists. The trend pertains to an art format known as ATCs (Artist Trading Cards). Here are links to some web pages pertaining to the trend:

ATCs seem to serve as social "glue" for like-minded people interested in the arts, since the "rules of the game" preclude buying and selling such cards.

Nevertheless, any time people meet together, whether the meeting takes place in a physical or virtual space, it's likely that some of the participants will have ulterior motives, in addition to the obvious desire to socialize with other people. That's not necessarily a bad thing. There's no reason why people can't mix business with pleasure, provided that it isn't done in an obnoxious manner.

Even though many ATC artists are amateurs, one possible motive for being involved with the world of ATCs is to enable professional artists to publicize their work by handing out "freebies" which have the effect of drawing attention to the work they offer for sale. For years, restaurants have known the value of handing out free samples. Conceptually speaking, this is no different. Of course, the value of ATC freebies would hinge, in part, on the extent to which they help artists to publicize websites which contain information about their larger works of art which are for sale. (ATC-sized miniatures can also be sold, of course, but then they aren't technically known as Artist Trading Cards, they're known as ACEOs, a/k/a Art Cards, Editions and Originals.) It would certainly be smart to include the artist's web address and e-mail address on the back of each card, in addition to the title of the piece and other basic information.

Another possible motive for participating in the world of ATCs might be to facilitate particular types of social interactions. Specifically, I'm thinking of the fact that most ATC artists seem to be women. But there's no rule which says that they have to be women. In fact, the person who started the ATC trend, M. Vanci Stirnemann, was a man. I have no idea whether or not he was "straight," but it seems to me that savvy heterosexual guys looking for great opportunities to meet a lot of women might want to look into the possibility of attending ATC swap meets (as participants, of course). I'm at a point in my own life where my chances of meeting any attractive and eligible mates have significantly diminished, but I don't like to rule anything out 100%. You never know, I might meet the Christian woman of my dreams at an ATC swap meet (even though I haven't really tried this idea out yet). Hey, if you want to catch fish, go where the fish are. If you want to meet eligible women, go where there are likely to be lots of women. That's just common sense.

As I was looking through a book about ATCs, it also occurred to me that the standard dimensions of ATCs seem fairly similar to the dimensions of traditional gospel tracts. I also noticed, in that book by a woman named Bernie Berlin, that she showed some hinged diptych arrangements which apparently were still considered to be ATCs, and which could potentially contain more information than a standard ATC. And that got me to thinking about the fact that there are very few rules where ATCs are concerned, in terms of content. Some of the ATC designs I've seen have included text as part of the design. So why not create ATCs which serve as miniature gospel tracts? One would want to include artistic elements, of course, but there's no reason why such cards can't include Christian messages and/or Christian imagery as a means of stimulating conversations about God. Such cards could also include information (on the backs of such cards) which would lead people to the artists' blogs or websites, where they could then learn more about the Christian beliefs of the artists who created those cards. And it isn't as if the cards are likely to be thrown in the trash, the way that gospel tracts often are. After all, these swap meets are set up deliberately for the purpose of giving and receiving such materials.

Strathmore now sells small pieces of various art papers (and even canvas) for the purpose of creating ATCs. Ampersand Art also sells ATC-sized "Stampbord" which could be used for creating especially nice ATCs. the 2.5 x 3.5 pieces of Stampbord would probably be hard to create by hand, but there's no reason why larger pieces of paper and card stock (e.g., Bristol Board) and canvas couldn't be cut to size, even after they'd already been printed. From the standpoint of economics, that would seem to make more sense. (I've compared prices, and the Strathmore ATC pieces are much more expensive on a price-per-square-inch basis than comparable materials in larger sizes.)

Using Photoshop, an artist could create one-of-a-kind pieces which would combine original art, original photography, copyright-free imagery (e.g., from Dover Publications) and text which would stimulate recipients to look at Christianity in a new and more positive light. At least, that's my suggestion, for what it's worth, for Christian believers who want to use the arts as a means of sharing their faith.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Street Ministry and the Arts

Here's a link to information regarding an interesting book pertaining to the relationship between the arts and Christian "street ministry". Here's a link to an excerpt from that book. I can't vouch for the book yet because I haven't read it, but it definitely looks very interesting.

NOTE: The Sound of the Harvest is another book by the author, J. Nathan Corbitt.'s reviews of the book seem to suggest that it's well worth reading as well, if one is interested in Christian music.

NOTE: One way in which the arts could definitely play a role in street ministry would be a scenario in which Christians combined street ministry with busking.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Born Again Poets' Society

If you have taken the opportunity to download my Christ-centered poems from this publicly accessible file folder, you know that I count poetry as one of my talents.

Some people may consider me to be a very talented poet. Other people may vehemently disagree. Different people have different criteria with regard to such things. If nothing else, however, I think that I've made a conscientious effort to produce poems which contain thought-provoking, faith-based content, in a format which is familiar to people who lean more towards formalistic traditionalism than the avante garde. (I'm one of those anachronistic people who still think that the best poems contain something in the way of rhythm and rhyme.)

There was a movie, a while back, called "The Dead Poets Society". It occurred to me that there ought to be a group specifically for Christian poets. I thought that "The Born Again Poets' Society" might be a good name for such a group.

The BAPS might offer opportunities for regular fellowship, poetry readings and poetry slams, audio recordings (distributed online), poetry anthology books, and other activities and projects designed to integrate poetry into the Christian faith in a meaningful way. It could also be involved in advocacy, in terms of encouraging pastors and other Christian leaders to integrate poetry into more worship services.

I confess that there's some poetry which isn't my cup of tea, and I know that that's true of some other people as well. But I believe that the Body of Christ ought to have room for people with diverse tastes --- and I also think that we all grow when we're exposed to new things with which we were previously unfamiliar. Poetry isn't necessarily the most popular art form, compared with pop music, but poetry is a part of every culture, so we Christians ought to be involved in culture on that level. Otherwise, we leave a void which unbelievers are more than happy to fill.

If you're a Christian with a gift for poetry (or an interest in the same), please contact me so that I can add you to a list of people who might have an interest in a Christian fellowship group for poets and for people interested in that art form.

Mark W. Pettigrew

Monday, April 06, 2009

One Excellent Fund Raising Option

Like any Christian ministry, the Christian Arts Initiative will require substantial funds in order to meet the objectives spelled out in the document which can be downloaded via this link.

As I see it, it makes sense to explore multiple options, rather than relying solely on donations (although such donations are always appreciated). offers a fund raising option which I plan to use here (and also at in the future.

Essentially, is an affiliate marketing system. In affiliate marketing, a portion of each purchase made via a link on one's blog or web page is sent as payment to the owner of the blog or web site. (Click here for more detailed information.)

However, there's a very important difference. Whereas standard affiliate links are usually associated with individual companies (such as, an account enables one to offer a huge array of buying options to one's supporters, all by means of a single link. That maximizes the likelihood that supporters will find the products they desire, without cluttering up one's blog or web site with numerous affiliate links, and without the hassle of having to set up an affiliate relationship with each separate company.

I know of several companies which offer a program of that type to nonprofit organizations, but as far as I know, seems to be the only one which is available for the purpose of raising funds for organizations which aren't 501(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit organizations. (I also like the fact that is located nearby, in the Chicago area. In fact, I just met one of their executives on Saturday, 4-4-09, and he seemed to be a very nice guy who could be trusted to run a professional operation.)

Notice that one can currently choose from more than 700 different name-brand stores, such as Office Depot, Lands' End, Home Depot, Nordstrom and many more. For a current list of all of the vendors associated with, visit this web page. must be pretty popular as a fund raising option. According to their web site, there are now more than 46,046 organizations listed at that site as of this date.

Also, there's a related fund raising option, offered by the same company, which enables one to receive small amounts of funds every time people search the Web using the search engine at For more information, visit this page and this page.

Do you want a pain-free way of supporting the Christian Arts Initiative, without having to donate money in addition to money which you'd be spending anyway? Then please bookmark this blog post, and return here periodically. As soon as I've set things up so that you can support the Christian Arts Initiative by means of purchases and searches, this blog post will be modified in order to facilitate such transactions.

UPDATE (May 30, 2009): I just got an e-mail from another company offering what appears to be a good fundraising option which I intend to explore. (1-866-223-8831 or 1-888-838-3189; Fax: 1-800-551-6712) allows one to set up fundraising programs for churches, schools and other groups, involving the sale of bulbs and perennials. (That's a natural for me, since many of my best photos, which I intend to sell in the form of prints and other products, feature flowers and gardens.) They appear to be associated with Gardener's Supply and Dutch Gardens. Dutch Gardens is a reputable company, and has long offered a fundraising program, but that program didn't include an e-commerce option, and it required that the fundraising organization handle the final order fulfillment. (In other words, the products were shipped to the organization, which then physically distributed the products to those who'd ordered them.) The new e-commerce option makes this a lot more appealing. It isn't as extensive as in terms of product selection, but I see no reason to limit my fundraising efforts to just one option. So provided that there are no impediments (such as the need to obtain 501(c)3 status before setting up an account), it's likely that I'll be setting up an account and an e-commerce site with that company in the near future, along with links to that e-commerce site on this blog (and, eventually, at

12/8/2010 UPDATE: is another web address which seems to be promising insofar as fundraising for Artistic Christian Endeavors is concerned.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

An Interesting Christian Art Event

Here's the text from an e-mail message I just got from Alex Radin, a Christian visual artist who uses his talents as a means of worship. I figured I'd pass the information on by means of this blog in order to help him to publicize his event.

"Listening to the Spirit"

6 Week Art Course

Course Description:
Alex Radin will be teaching 6 weeks of art classes (one 2 hour class each week) called "Listening to the Spirit". In this course we will explore listening to God and creating based upon what we hear. We will begin by working in collage and develop a finished painting based upon our mixed media idea sketches. You will learn to design in ways to better communicate your ideas as well as learn techniques to help you execute your concept.

Thursdays, April 16th, 2009 to May 21st, 2009
Classes will be every Thursday for 6 weeks.


Held at Life Church, Mt. Pleasant, SC
Life Church is in the Tibboel Agency building which is located at 2191 Highway 17 North in Mt. Pleasant (near Laing Middle School and the intersection of Highway 17 and Six Mile Road).

Early Registration Deadline: April 9th
Final Registration Deadline: April 15th

Course Requirements:
The course will have a minimum of 6 persons and a maximum of 15 per class. The class is limited to the first 15 people who register and pay for the course. If a minimum of 6 persons is not reached then the class may be canceled. Participants are expected to bring their own supplies. Click here for a suggested supply list.

Course Costs:
The course will cost $110 per person for the full 6 weeks if you register by April 9th, 2009. If you register after April 9th, the price increases to $150 for the full 6 weeks. The last day to register is April 15th, 2009, a day before classes begin.

How to Register:
To register make checks payable to Life Church with art class in the memo and mail them to:
Alex Radin
5837 Beverly Drive
Hanahan SC 29410

Please be sure to include your name, phone, address, and email so that we are able to contact you if we need to.

Phone: Alex or Sara Radin - 843.270.3137
Email(s): or

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Brief Introduction to the Christian Arts Initiative

The specific purpose of this site (as well as a related web site known as is to distribute information (including my initial proposal, progress reports and more) pertaining to the Christian Arts Initiative.

In addition to the various web pages which can currently be found at, I'd like to recommend that you visit one of my publicly accessible file folders in order to download several different documents which will help to more fully explain my vision for the Christian Arts Initiative. Here's a link to a folder containing PDF files pertaining to that project.