Last week, we started asking artists where the line was for them? Thanks to Eeek’s Danielle Wilson for kicking us off. Today, we get to learn from the wisdom of Luke Tonge. Luke is a graphic designer, art director, FormFifyFive writer, and the leader of the excellent art collective CRTD. So Luke, where is the line with you?
The Line. It’s definitely there, and the tricky thing is I don’t think its static. I think we all have these boundary lines in every area of our lives whether we’re conscious of them or not. As a Christian striving to remain ‘holy’ in a secular industry (in my case Advertising, Marketing & Design) I find myself regularly having to question where the lines should lie and whether I’ve got them in the right place.
I try and influence whenever possible the inclusion of line-crossing content in jobs I work on – some of these things are easier to swap out than others! I remember the first time I had to include an article in a magazine I designed which contained some fruity language. I was temporarily mortified. My vision for a wholesome issue was compromised by someone else’s creative output. But when your job is to design and not edit, the question then scales up very quickly to be ‘is this something i’m still happy to put my name to?’ rather than ‘is this something I can edit out myself?’ For me, in that instance, it wasn’t a deal breaker.
I do think there is a different responsibility when we are creating our own content to handling that of others, as when we’re just part of the creative process/machine we don’t necessarily get to decide on the moral integrity of the content – but when it’s our own creation we are wholly answerable for it. For instance, I learned early on in my career I would have to work on alcohol brands which as a self-identifying straight-edge tee-total young man was far from my ideal scenario… although close to ‘the line’ I justified the uneasy decision to accept that work. There are a few times I’ve refused to work on certain clients – tobacco for instance – as I can’t justify spending my time and talent on something so destructive.
My experience in a rowdy and “worldly” environment, as part of a sometimes cut-throat, immoral and manipulative industry, is that the biggest witness and example of living a set apart or holy life is just the mundane day-to-day example I try and set amidst that backdrop – watching my mouth, removing myself from compromising situations, acting with integrity, calling out bad practise, remaining humble, teachable and thankful etc.
Until I’m my own boss I imagine i’ll continue to face the tension of knowing I’m having to operate close to some of my lines, on other people’s terms, but it’s also in those environments I feel I can be a bigger witness than if I were working somewhere monastic in a holy-huddle staying squeaky clean.