Last week we discussed what I believe is one of the biggest blunders we can make: taking the exciting message of the Gospel and making it drab and unappealing through lazy media design work. I’m certainly not advocating that we change the Gospel message, but I do believe many churches could stand to update their methods in how they share it.

If we’re going to do all things well, to God’s glory, that includes the media design in our churches.

So how can we do that?  Last time [The Big Blunder of Bad Design], I gave you two simple ideas that made a big difference for me when I finally got serious about taking our church’s media to the next level. Allow me to give you two more.

Always look for inspiration

One of the best tips I ever got from an experienced graphic designer was, “You never know when inspiration will strike! Be ready for it.” I realized he was absolutely right. Over and over, through the years, I had seen interesting ideas and designs and done nothing more than think, “Wow, that’s interesting,” and go about my business. But if something catches your attention and makes you think, realize that it might just do that for someone else if you apply that same idea or inspiration to your media design.
So what should you do when you come across an interesting logo, flyer, or advertisement? Capture that image or design and save it for later! Here’s some easy ways to do it:
Clip to Evernote
No program is easier to use when it comes to saving ideas and doing long-term planning than Evernote. The best part? It’s free. Get it here.
Once you’ve downloaded Evernote, you can save ideas, images, webpages or just about anything else you can think of, and sync them across multiple devices. Snap a picture of a sharp looking ad using your cell phone, upload it to Evernote, and find it on your computer when you get back to the office. It’s like we’re living in the future or something! Seriously though, Evernote should be an indispensable tool for you as you think, design, plan and store great ideas.
Add to an online reading list
There are plenty of options, but whether you’re using an app like ReadLater or simply using a built in “Reading List” feature, if you find a great design or article on doing media well, click one or two buttons and save it for later. When you’re looking for inspiration later, pull up your reading list and voila! Instant inspiration.
Download and save to a design ideas file

If, for whatever reason, an online, cloud-based solution won’t work for you, simply save any great design idea that you come across and keep it organized in a file on your computer. I still find inspiration from images I saved years ago in my ideas file. In going back through my file while writing this article, I was reminded that I finally had a breakthrough in designing our bulletin for last year by pulling up an old design that I’d saved in my ideas file. It was just one small element to the design, but it made all the difference. If not for that ideas folder, I might still be stuck!

No matter how you do it, simply stop saying, “Hmm, that’s neat,” and then hoping you’ll remember later. Save that idea immediately and file it away for future use.

Borrow from those who do it best

It’s reported that Pablo Picasso once said, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” I’m certainly not for stealing anything in reality, but I am for imitating those who do media well. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I’ve flattered a lot of great designers! I don’t recommend just copying and pasting someone else’s work, but there’s lots of proper ways to borrow from good designers.

You can email the designer and ask them if they mind you copying their design. Most media designers that I’ve spoken to or emailed not only don’t mind me copying their design, many have actually offered to send me their artwork or original design files. Others have simply pointed me in the direction of where they drew inspiration or told me that they put their whole design together using free resources.
And that, to me, is the greatest secret to doing media for your church and not breaking the bank. There is an abundance of great logos, images, fonts and other design elements available for absolutely free online.
Check back next week for the final post in this series and we’ll give you links to lots of great free resources that can help take your church media design to another level.

Find Perforated Bulletin Paper HERE

Article by Guest Contributor, Brad Smith