Ask DN: Design & Religion

almost 7 years ago from , Chilling

I've noticed a fair amount of designers proudly proclaiming their religious stance in their portfolios. I'm somebody who respects all beliefs, and the right to do so, but curious why some choose to mix faith and work. I personally don't see the benefit of presenting such a personal detail as belief alongside your work, some with equal or more emphasis than the work itself.

I'm interested in hearing what you guys think about it.


  • Joe CJoe C, almost 7 years ago

    A couple years ago, the intro tagline 'Hi, I'm Joe, a designer, developer and coffee lover' was all the rage. I've seen a few now that read, 'I'm a designer, developer and follower of Christ'.

    In one way it's a tool to add character and personality to an online persona, to try to appear more personable. On the other hand, it could be seen as a kind of filter. Are you looking for religion specific work?

    For me, I would never display such a statement on a professional portfolio, but then again I would never put 'I love my pet husky' (I totally do). I think that kind of thing works for some people and not for others, it all depends on the kind of character you are. Totally respect the right for all to do as they wish!

    But yeah, for me it's a bit too personal. Is interesting to see it becoming more and more common. Would be great to hear from someone who does have this kind of proclamation on their portfolio, and the motivation behind this.

    20 points
    • Andrew McCarthy, almost 7 years ago

      Great response, thanks. I also want to re-emphasize your "do as you wish" sentiment, and want to make sure this doesn't turn into a religion bashing/defending thread. Also mostly just curious about the motivation.

      9 points
    • Viktor TViktor T, almost 7 years ago

      Well put!

      1 point
    • Daniel GoldenDaniel Golden, almost 7 years ago

      A profession of faith in Christ is more akin to announcing that "I belong to another world" than "I love my pet husky".

      If I asked you, after hearing that you were considering hiring a particular designer, if it would be helpful for you to know that the designer you're looking to hire is not of this world , surely your answer would be "yes". Whether or not it's to the designers benefit to proclaim his alienation from this world, is another question altogether.

      4 points
  • Ryan RushingRyan Rushing, almost 7 years ago (edited almost 7 years ago )

    I'm a Christian, and I don't add that line in my bio or my site anywhere.

    I know many folks who've been hurt by the Church or Christians, and I don't want to be a trigger for them. Although I haven't hurt anyone (on purpose, anyway), I understand there are lots of negative connotations to being a Christian and even the word itself carries lots of baggage.

    Similarly, I wouldn't talk constantly about beer or alcohol when I don't know those around me and if they struggle with alcoholism. I'd rather not take the careless risk of pushing someone off their track.

    I'd prefer someone find out I'm a Christian through conversation and discussion of topics, rather than reading a line in my Twitter bio and enforcing negative stereotypes without even talking to me.

    15 points
  • Jordan KoscheiJordan Koschei, almost 7 years ago

    Great question, Andrew.

    If a person is serious about their faith, it's probably the most important thing in their life. To use Christianity as an example (I'm a Christian, so it's what I know), the Bible makes it absolutely clear that you can't be lukewarm – it's an all-or-nothing deal. Most faiths are similar in this regard: you can't compartmentalize, it's something that permeates your entire life.

    If faith is important in a designer's life, it makes sense that they'd want to share it on their personal site. Personally, I like when fellow designers share what's important to them – it gives context, and humanizes them beyond the usual "I build websites" boilerplate copy.

    One of the best things about our industry is the sense of community and respect it fosters. I love working in a field where lots of people feel comfortable sharing what's important to them, without pressure and without fear of discrimination.

    15 points
    • Andrew McCarthyAndrew McCarthy, almost 7 years ago

      Thanks Jordan. You've brought a lot of clarity to the matter. It makes sense to be outspoken about the most important thing in one's life.

      1 point
    • Account deleted almost 7 years ago

      I was going to reply to this thread, but it appears Jordan did the job for me. Nearly word-for-word what I wanted to communicate.

      0 points
  • Dan DenneyDan Denney, almost 7 years ago

    I think it's just an online version of "dressing for the job that you want." For the people that do it, their faith is a top priority in their life and they want to work with people who either feel the same way or respect that.

    13 points
  • Colm TuiteColm Tuite, almost 7 years ago

    I'm an atheist myself but I'm good mates with a designer who is pretty vocal about his christian faith.

    As Jordan already mentioned, the bible is very clear that you should do all things to glorify God. My friend holds his faith as the sole purpose of his life. All other things in his life support that purpose.

    So, he strives to reflect God in everything he does, including design. If adding his faith status to his Twitter profile might get someone thinking about God, then he probably thinks it's a good idea to do so.

    9 points
  • Tyson KingsburyTyson Kingsbury, almost 7 years ago

    I guess, for me at least, someone's religious faith has nothing to do with their career as a designer. I don't particularly want to hear about it. I have absolutely zero interest in whether they're christian, muslim, jewish etc etc.... if their work is good, it's good. that's all. My wife is catholic, as are my kids and probably half my closest friends. NOT ONE of them has that on their business card, ie, christian piano teacher. Muslim data mining specialist...

    In my personal opinion, your faith shouldn't really be 'advertised'...and that's what this is...it's advertising....it's putting it out there as part of your personal brand....

    • I'm in my 40's, so maybe i'm just more naturally against the idea of sharing stuff like that on the web....most of the younger folks I know will post the most personal things on their sites/facebook/twitter without any regards to privacy or whatever....so, to me, this whole thing of announcing to the world, 'I'm a 'fill in the blank faith' +designer....i think it's more of a generational thing, or a youthful thing....I could be 100% wrong...but seriously...no one i know that's my age or older would do that....they'd think it was insane, inappropriate and just plain bad for business....

    hopefully I haven't offended half the folks here, as that's totally not what i intended....these are just my personal thoughts...

    i just don't think it makes a lot of sense to shout about your faith from the rooftops while at the same time trying to present yourself as professional....to me, those things are separate.... if you're confident and proud of your beliefs, i wouldn't think you'd need to do that....

    7 points
    • Jayna WallaceJayna Wallace, almost 7 years ago

      I'm in my 30's, and I have to say I agree with you completely as well. I'm impressed at how much decorum has been used in discussing the topic (I was afraid to respond because I feel like I'm in the minority on my viewpoint.) But someone else did mention - there are certain "polite" things that just aren't relevant to your work and shouldn't be brought up in a professional setting. Similar to your point of "Muslim Data Mining" -- I'm pretty sure, in most scenarios, it would be considered inappropriate to designate yourself as "Lesbian Dermatologist" or "Republican Social Media Strategist" (unless of course, you work for the GOP, or you're part of an organization in which this type of detail would give you more credibility as being 100% behind the mission of the company). It just seems like a faux pas, or more rather - if you're going to put it out there (think of it like a bumper sticker), you're asking for it to be a part of how people view you, for better or worse. And to double-back to what everyone else has already voiced - if that IS who you are and it makes sense to say so, that's great. I'm just not so sure I'm onboard with the share-every-private-detail-about-your-personal-life-in-a-professional-setting.

      3 points
    • Ryan DevenishRyan Devenish, almost 7 years ago (edited almost 7 years ago )

      The thing you're not understanding at all, is their point of view.

      Someone who writes they're Christian (or whatever they are) is clearly putting a lot of weight on that particular point. The fact that you don't want to work with them or don't feel they're professional by making such a statement is doing exactly what they want — ie. If you're anti-their beliefs then they don't want to work with you just as much as you don't want to work with them. Everyone wins.

      On the flip side, if you share the same beliefs, it's a foot in the door or a way to stand out from the crowd in a positive light.

      In that respect, it's really a genius move.

      As far as your comment about "bad for business" That's a little naive. I've seen, first hand, people of your same age group utilize their personal beliefs (be it sexual, religious, etc) that results in amazing business opportunities in ways you're not even open to because you stay away from them.

      Don't get me wrong. I don't (currently) tout my religious beliefs on my professional work, but I can walk in the shoes of others and in many cases not saying anything is just as much a statement as shouting from the rooftops.

      0 points
  • Sacha GreifSacha Greif, almost 7 years ago

    I've noticed this too, and it seems to mainly be a U.S. thing. At least in most european countries I think it would be considered extremely weird and off-putting to talk about your religion in this way in a professional context.

    6 points
  • Emily Campbell, almost 7 years ago (edited almost 7 years ago )

    The cool things about this thread is that it (1) demonstrates how much diversity and personality is inherent in this industry (which in-of-itself serves to address the OP's question), and (2) shows how tolerant the community is as a whole. If the design industry was more corporate, or less accepting, then there would be no room for people to proclaim their faith on their personal site.

    I don't share my religion on my portfolio, but in a past iteration I shared my absolute love for the outdoors, which defines me as much as anything. Whatever you choose to share, injecting personality into your marketing materials makes you more memorable and relatable - an excellent trait in a industry flooded with talented designers.

    5 points
  • Charlie PrattCharlie Pratt, almost 7 years ago

    I believe it's a self-imposed constraint carefully selected by those who wield it. It says a few things up front: 1) It's important that you know this about me going in 2) the message behind my product matters to me a great deal and 3) I'm choosing to exercise one of the benefits of the fact that this industry is not corporate by displaying my beliefs up front.

    Sometimes it's annoying. Sometimes it's comforting. But even when annoyed by it, I'm at the very least happy that the person in question is free enough to say it out loud without fear. Whether there is lost revenue potential because of it... well, I really don't think that's what motivates that person in the first place.

    5 points
  • Joey LomantoJoey Lomanto, almost 7 years ago (edited almost 7 years ago )

    Oh dear, this could turn into a large thread.

    I've noticed it as well and really don't mind. Myself, I'm an aethist but I don't advertise it on my Twitter profile. Not that I'm ashamed, I'm quite confident in how I feel, but because I feel it challenges other peoples beliefs. And really, who am I to put to question how they feel or what they think?

    I try to be as respectful as possible, so all the power to them if they're proud and want to share that information with the world. Really, it's their right to be able to share how they feel, that's the beauty of the internet.

    I suppose if they want to mix those details with their work profiles that's their choice and although questionable to some, I've yet to see anybody preach or try to impose their religion on anybody else in our community -- which is really where I would draw the line in terms of the professional/personal balance.

    5 points
  • Daniel GoldenDaniel Golden, almost 7 years ago

    Good example of this. Operative words of his proclamation: "Most importantly...". Those words explain why he included this proclamation in his bio. It is, apparently, the most important thing about him.

    4 points
  • Murat MutluMurat Mutlu, almost 7 years ago

    Funny you posted this, I was thinking the same thing recently when searching through portfolios and coming across Twitter bio's mentioning religion more and more.

    I don't really get it but that's because I'm not religious, as Joey said, it just would never ever cross my mind to state my indifference to religion in my bio.

    I do however mention how much i love steak

    4 points
  • Matt BaxterMatt Baxter, almost 7 years ago

    I think the broader topic is: should you or should you not mix personal details with your professional work?

    To be honest, I don't think that the separation of work and personal life is nearly as clear cut as many make it seem. Just look at Twitter as an example: I'd say a majority of people mix personal details and work and I think that's more accepted now. Companies are made of people and all those people have diverse backgrounds and lives. Personal details make the person and therefore has an influence on how they work.

    Some might say that nobody cares about personal details as long as that person does their job well. While I think that it should ultimately come down to how well that person can do their job, I don't think that personality should be completely excluded.

    Back to the original topic of religion and design. I do state in some places online that I'm a Christian because that is a core part of who I am. It's not just a preference or a thing that I kind of like. I don't do it to antagonize or make people feel uncomfortable. It's just who I am.

    In my own workplace, we have diverse backgrounds and beliefs but that's never prevented us from working well together. One of my coworkers once said: "We've got a pretty diverse group. I don't believe in anything and you're all into that Jesus guy. Its pretty cool we can all get along and work so well together."

    3 points
  • Nick de JardineNick de Jardine, almost 7 years ago

    I say keep it to yourself. If anything, I wouldn't hire someone who makes such statements as it comes across as fanatical.

    2 points
  • James Young, almost 7 years ago

    I've recently worked on a massive project for an international church and while I'm in no way religious (neither are any of us at the company) we did wonder about how much of an element of hiring people because of their beliefs goes on as the church is by its nature a very family like group setup.

    I also wonder if as someone here mentioned, people put it on their folios because it's such a big part of their entire life and it's a way of encouraging contacts from other people with the same belief or church and a way of signalling the ideal client background for work they want to do.

    One thing I have found, churches have an insane amount of money to spend so part of me wonders if it's also sensible design "targeting" the religious "market" (for want of a better term) because it's a good source of work and income.

    2 points
  • Ryan MurphyRyan Murphy, almost 7 years ago (edited almost 7 years ago )

    Let bygones be bygones, its just a description of themselves. If it is something they value to their life then go them. If not then go them.

    It is interesting to see it more common in profiles, and long may it continue, people shouldn't feel the need to tread lightly when talking about these things. Being religious doesn't alienate you from a potential employer if they happen to be atheist, if it does then you probably don't want to work for that person. I certainly wouldn't. And the confidence to put it in your bio is something to be admired.

    1 point
  • Elmar HaneveldElmar Haneveld, almost 7 years ago (edited almost 7 years ago )

    Interesting topic! I am a christian and a designer and my philosophy is that it's more important to be a man of your word instead of a man with a lot of words.

    As a designer you should be concerned with design in the first place. That's what you do! But the beautiful thing about having a personal belief as well, is to see how you can incorporate that into what you do. So values like 'honesty' and 'treat others as you want to be treated' can be part of your service a a designer.

    The past 5 years I've been a independent designer (now working in a company) and the thing my clients appreciated the most of my service is the honesty, transparency, keeping promises (no surprises) and always delivering a bit more than you agreed upon.

    So, to me being a christian and a designer doesn't mean I should mention it everywhere. It's better to act upon your faith so you and your clients can benefit from it.

    0 points
  • Corin EdwardsCorin Edwards, almost 7 years ago

    I've not noticed this. Is there any indication of where this might be happening? It would be considered unprofessional and in somewhat poor taste in Australia. Perhaps in the US it would be deemed appropriate?

    0 points