Story, Value, and Becoming More Real
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New Logos by Ned Bustard!

July 18, 2022

Lancia E. Smith

When we were in the early stages of design work for making a transition to a more sustainable site, we gave long consideration to who we are as a fellowship and who we are called to be. As that work unfolded, what is essential about us became clearer. No matter how we as individuals in the tribe of Cultivators express ourselves in making (writing, visual arts, pottery, jewelry, sculpting, garden design, cooking, woodworking, etc., everyone in our fellowship is at heart a reader. All of us write in some way as an outpouring of creative calling, even those of us who are primarily visual, musical, or textural artists. We are a people shaped by reading and those craftsman who use typewriter keys. This recognition is portrayed in the design of our logos. 

C is for Cultivate. We are cultivating oaks of righteousness. That is The Cultivating Project.

Emblems and Ornaments

Long before we did all this shared identity searching, our emblem had already been a single oak leaf.  It has been our emblem since even before we officially launched the publication or the fellowship. Oak leaves have filtered through my life and my work for decades, both in design and actual oak leaves. One ornament in particular has made its way repeatedly into my design work since before I actually launched my first blog site in 2007. I didn’t know what it meant back then, only that it spoke to me as nothing else, and that it matters beyond my understanding and probably even my lifetime. We use this illustration now as an ornament in our publications (not a logo per se), as a kind of icon and visual reminder that we are called to be oaks of righteousness

Over the years, we have had many iterations of oak leaf designs grace and embellish our pages. I offer particular thanks to two TCP fellows, Jordan Durbin and Pahtyana Moore, for their design work in the early stages of this labour, and for their sweet company. 

Illustration by Jordan Durbin

Design by Pahtyana Moore

The elements matter

The very first time in 2020 that I saw the base template for our new site and its mock logo placement in the header, I “saw” a type key of the letter C with an English oak leaf growing out of it. It was in that moment I knew this change of sites had to be made. Call it inspiration or conviction, it took root in me from that first sight, and refused to go away or die, no matter how much I wanted it to. It was something akin to falling irresistibly in love. 

As a value element in our design palette, neither the aesthetics or the reader base for Cultivating have ever been intended to be “women only”. Men matter. Christian men matter. Their voices and their needs matter. It is a core value of Cultivating, and one I feel passionately about. Making a space on screen or in print that is as welcoming to men as to women is bound into our DNA as a fellowship. We are made to work together, both genders, to give remembrance and witness to the Lord God Almighty. There is a certain quality of Cultivating that must welcome both men and women to the table of this work. So any work in developing and continuing our aesthetic needed to represent a style that both men and women can relate to and identify with. This essential requirement has now been handsomely fulfilled in our new set of logos! 

One of my long held dreams was to work with Ned Bustard someday. “Someday” came when I got up enough courage to ask Ned if he would be willing to design a logo for Cultivating and for The Cultivating Project. Nervously I asked, and much to my amazement, Ned said yes! Texts and emails went a flying. Fellow CORE member, Nicole Howe, Ned, and I hashed through layers of minute details to create these and Ned proved to be as glorious a person to work with as the illustrations he so deftly creates. 

From those days of concentrated exchanges, two fabulous logos emerged out his work. For Cultivating (publication), one for The Cultivating Project fellowship. When we got to final versions, I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried. There is something profound about seeing an inner vision made visible and the power that artists and makers have for enfleshing the invisible. I can “see” things as yet unmade waiting to be brought into creation, but I do not have the capacity or skill sets necessary to enflesh everything I see. One of the great lessons of working together with others in making something is learning to trust another to “give flesh” to what we cherish in vision but can only describe. It is holy work on both sides and the beauty of collaboration.

My hearty thanks to Ned for his friendship and craftsmanship. And to Nicole Howe who went through every minute detail with me, cheering us on and fielding at least a 100 text messages of “What about this?” Both these good souls demonstrated collaboration at its finest. 

Soli Deo gloria

The featured image of Ned Bustard is (c) of Michael Rothermel and used with permission. 


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