Can you hear the sound of the earth’s rotation?  Didn’t think so.  We literally live on a spinning ball, Earth, and don’t hear or feel its movement.  Can you feel the socks on your feet?  We can be in our socks and not feel them. 

We are surrounded by and are participants in the greatest tension of the universe, the battle of good versus evil - the conflict of the ages.  Can you feel it?  Without a spiritual awakening or at least knowledge of it, the wages of sin continue to victimize.  The unseen forces of evil gather and plot the demise of the righteous.  

Wiggle your toes and feel your socks, wiggle your conscience and acknowledge the presence of good versus evil.  The war is not entirely natural; it’s mental, it’s soulish, and above all it’s spiritual.  It’s personal and it’s global.  It’s an ancient story that is not over yet.  

This conflict generates purpose - the passion that fuels the fight for justice and righteousness.  The angels draw swords, and so do men from cover to cover in Scripture.  There’s war in heaven and war on earth (Gen. 3:24, Num. 22:23, 1Sam. 17:51, 1Chr. 21:16).   


The scenes of Revelation include graphic angelic battles and simultaneous earthly battles - spirit versus spirit, man versus man, and graphic versus graphic.  

The war for men’s hearts is waged in the designer’s studio these days.  Imagery stimulates minds and hearts.  Pictures move people to action of all sorts.  Dirty pictures can nurture dirty minds; pure pictures can nurture pure hearts and minds.    

It’s all about the tension.  Stretch a rubber band - tension.  Take the next steps, direct the trajectory, carefully aim and fire.  Tension is a good thing when it’s aiming at the right target.  This is our quest - graphic design with purpose, with tension and power aimed at taking out the enemy, spiritually speaking.  Pictures of the ultimate victory fill the final pages of the Bible.  Read them and let the imagery fill your cranial monitor.  Get the vision for what God is about to accomplish. 



“Aiming is Everything” employs graphic tension with sharp contrasts of black, flaming reds and complementary greens.  The abstraction obliterates minutia, leaving the viewer with the blunt image of the masked man wielding a paintball gun.  Although the font is smooth and graceful, and seemingly fitting for a sweet greeting card, it adds a fluid energy.  What could be added to this poster to make it even more intense?  Consider paintball splats, and a more diagonal positioning of the shooter. 


This poignant graphic delivers.  The obvious tension of the message is matched with graphic tension created by the torn and tilted upper right corner.  Its jagged line and lightening-like negative space is unnerving.  Never has the sky been ripped, yet we see it here - a rending of the heavens.  Why a cardboard sign?  It speaks of the poverty and urgency of the day with a piercing question.  The survival of the individual is at stake in this graphic.  

Interestingly, the visual elements of this work are peaceful, while its message provokes godly fear.  The blend of warm colors in the foreground (the cardboard, human hands and neck) harmonize with the cool blues of the sky and invite the viewer in for a big surprise, “Plan your path. The end is near.”  

Nobody scratches his head straining to get the meaning of this poster.  We’ve all lived this peer pressure.  Tension emanates from the horrifying masks worn by those surrounding the student seated at his desk.  His body language implies the intense stress of being surrounded and influenced by so many.  

Visually the poster is orderly.  The vertical wording on the left sets a starting point, a boundary.  The rest of the composition embodies the circular swirl of seven characters.  The tension and pain of the human experience portrayed here is balanced by the simplicity of the composition and a pleasant family of colors.  Although this poster offers no solution to the psychological tension, it does offer calming visual elements. 


This image leaps from the pages of Matthew’s Gospel.  In chapter twenty-four, Jesus spoke of the end days, and this poster visually articulates the conflict of good versus evil.  In the process of identifying with this scene we find ourselves tiny and minuscule by virtue of the size of the cityscape and spiritual beings.  Is there any resolve of the tension?  Is there a calm after the storm?  

Two factors are being examined: the visual and the psychological levels of tension and resolve.  In search of resolve, we find a white robed character behind the scary being hovering over the city.  The sun is also shining as a reminder of the true Light.  These two images along with the Scripture at the lower part of the poster offer a resolution.  

From a purely graphic viewpoint, the color gradients in this image are cohesive.  They are created from a limited color palette.  The range never strays far beyond red, orange and yellow.  This exclusive use of color is safe.  We feel secure and comfortable when wooed by analogous colors.  Even though the color choice is red-hot, it’s soothing.  The tension of the subject matter is countered by the inviting gradient hues and tones.  

In the midst of upward streaks of electrified orange, floating music and flame-like shapes at the base, a perfectly calm figure stands with outstretched arms.  The visual chaos comes under the control of the central silhouette.  Our experiential connection with the human figure dominates every tension-provoking element of this landscape.  What a striking relationship between the visual and the psychological factors! 

These three friends buzz with energy.  It’s a positive tension created by the overlay of streaking light.  

Filmmakers tell their stories with unfolding plots that ascend to climactic points of dramatic tension.  At this point the audience sits on the edge of their seats and the solution, the restoration of a new equilibrium, is revealed.  Everyone breathes a sigh of relief.

A healthy plot leads its characters through a trial and into a higher level of personal growth.  Audiences identify with the toil and resolution.  They too should leave the theater on a higher plane of thought.

How many of us love a movie that ends before the tension is fully resolved?  Did he live or die?  Did he find true love, did she marry him, or did they just have a nice day?  Is happily-ever-after happening?  Stories lead us through circumstances to receive an intended conclusion. 

This storytelling principle applies to the static visual arts as well.  Every good graphic conveys its story and employs degrees of tension and resolve.  Graphic imagery illustrates problems and their solutions.  Artists should lead viewers to a higher plane of awareness, personal introspection, and hopefully, spiritual growth.  


A basketball and hoop mounted on water?  The collision of these two subjects create a visual and psychological tension which intrigues the viewer.  

Tension is created here because the sensible shape of the person is overlaid with non-sensible imagery.  The consistent blue hues pull this piece together. 


First of all, Scripture makes it clear that the source of universal tension and conflict is Satan.  The Apostle Paul says “...we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).  Revelation 19:20 provides the end of the storyline: the beast, the false prophet, and those who received the mark of the beast are cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.  

A little caution keeps us from blaming the devil for every affliction in life.  Although the devil is the source of many trials, people are the culprits who allow his deadly influence.  Let’s face it; sin is fun (Heb. 11:25).  People like fun, so people like sin and its immediate pleasure.  However, the wages of sin is death - they don’t like that.  The gift of God is eternal life, and personal victory over the power of sin (Rom. 3:23, 2Cor. 2:14).  This we like.

Secondly, Scripture points the finger of God directly at you and me.  We cause many trials in our lives because we make unwise choices.  Then we live out the consequences.  There’s no escaping the law of sowing and reaping.  God so loves us that He gently and not-so-gently corrects us according the condition of our hearts.  “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth; therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty” (Job. 5:17).  (See also Hebrews 12:6-7.)  

Lot chose a fertile plain close to cities given to perversion.  He and his family lived with the consequences of that decision (Gen. 13:11, 19:26).  

The beauty of this image lies in the truth it embodies - a great resolution.  Jesus exonerated the woman caught in the act of adultery.  It’s the same with us.  We make poor choices and sin.  Jesus is the Way, Who brings us back to Him.  According to the law, this woman deserved death by stoning.  When she met the Rock of Ages, He thwarted her accusers and ministered new life.  In actuality, she was stoned by the Rock Jesus and found new life.  Think about it!  Her poor choices were turned around when she was turned around by Jesus. 

The third reason for tension comes from living a godly life.  The Lord offers the privilege of suffering to those who love Him intensely.  Does this sound odd?  What about Jesus and every one of His disciples?  They suffered and left us a pattern of suffering for the sake of righteousness.  We don’t suffer as masochists, but with passion as a result of serving the Lord in a lost world.

Read these verses and see a glorious side of the Lord’s comfort in times of great tension.  “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2Tim. 3:12).  Paul rejoices in Acts 5:41, because he was counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ.  In 2 Corinthians 4:8, he shares his Christian journey: “We are troubled on every side yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.”  Again Paul writes: “For I reckon that the suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed” (Rom. 8:18).  He did not suffer from poor choices in life, but because he loved the Lord, his calling and ministry.  How willing are we to emulate this great example?  (See James 5:10)

Daniel found himself in a lion’s den, because he honored God above the king’s decree (Dan. 6).  The God of all comfort met him miraculously (2Cor. 1:3). 


God is always the answer.  His love compels Him to move on our behalf.  After all, He died for us. and He continues to provide for our every need.  “This is my comfort in affliction; for thy word hath quickened me” (Ps. 119:50).  God told Paul  “...My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”  Paul responded: “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2Cor. 12:9). 


God doesn’t just solve problems and relieve tension.  He brings us through trials (not always around them) to new vistas, higher plateaus along our ascent to His dwelling place.  From cover to cover, every lover of God faced trails that brought him into a deeper relationship with God.  Trials are meant to kill us - that is, our old nature - so that we can experience the resurrection life of our new nature in Christ, and a genuine oneness with Him. 


“For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, not height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:36-39).  



This is our quest - graphic design with purpose, with tension and power aimed at taking out the enemy, spiritually speaking.  God’s Word backs this adventure.  We’ve read, and experienced it and it’s time to create a visual message that can touch lives for the Creator’s glory.

Create a poster that delivers a solution for the tension we experience in the Christian lifestyle.  Utilize visual tension to connect with your audience’s experience of tension.  As well, give your viewers a Scriptural solution, knowing that our Lord always leads us to a place of victory.  Make your poster a light to many in dark trials along the Christian journey to oneness with the Lord.  

 Identify a common tension experienced by your peers.  Where’s the stress?  Is it school work, friends, the uncertain future or relationships at home?

 Find biblical answers to illustrate the resolve.  What Bible verses best offer solutions, the new life needed to fix the tension and lead the viewer to a higher level of understanding and grace?

 Gather imagery and build your poster.  Look at the posters created by students in this chapter for inspiration.

 Chose a standard canvas size for your poster design (16x20, 18x24, 23x28, 24x30).

-	The conflict of the ages is good versus evil.
-	When God enlightens us we become more aware of the spiritual forces involved in this war.  
-	The war for men’s souls is fought in the designer’s studio, because imagery stimulates good and evil thoughts, words and actions.
-	Dirty pictures can make people dirty, and clean pictures can make people clean.
-	Visual tension infuses a graphic with intrigue.  It grabs viewers’ attention.
-	Graphic tension has both visual and psychological components.
-	Like the plot of a movie, a graphic image tells a story.  Every good graphic conveys its story and employs degrees of tension and resolve.
-	Satan is one source of tension in this world.
-	When we make wrong choices in life, tension is sure to be a consequence.
-	When a Christian sets his heart to live a godly life, tension is sure to follow.  The Bible heroes of faith counted it joy to suffer for Jesus. 
The Lord brings us into a deeper relationship with Him through our trials.

Do you read the tension in these images? What visual elements actually convey the positive use of tension?


Intro     1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     10    11    12    13     14    15