By Thomas Moll
Director of Content & Innovation
I had the wonderful pleasure of talking with Sally Beck, artist, Hope-Full Living author, mother, grandmother, wife, and amazing child of God.
After graduating from college Sally taught art part-time in adult education while her kids were growing up. She then began doing freelance illustration for several Christian publishers.
Eventually, she became a full-time illustrator and editor for Creative Communications in St. Louis, Mo. She considers her work as an artist a calling.
Sally currently lives in Williamsburg, Va., is married to Gordon Beck, a retired Lutheran pastor, and has three children of whom she is very proud, and five delightful grandchildren. She considers herself very blessed.
For this Q&A article, we talked about what has inspired her to create, what brings her joy as an artist, and how God has used her gifts to share His love.
I regret that I couldn’t fit our whole conversation into this article, but I hope that you are inspired by her work and her faith through her art.
What was one of your first memories of seeing art that inspired you?
I remember when I was 4 or 5, we had a Christmas picture book, and it had this pop up, green Christmas tree when you opened the first page. I loved that book. There was an angel about six pages in, and I thought, “Oh man! I would love to be able to make angels like that!” And then, in my job, I got to make angels like that.
What has brought you joy in your work as an artist?
One of my jobs at Creative Communications was to produce a black and white image for every Sunday of the church year that pastors or the church secretary could use for the cover of the bulletin or the section with the readings to show how the Old Testament, Psalm, Epistle reading, and the Gospel all fit together. It was great. I had total freedom. And I don't think anybody ever asked me to redo it. I just got to create, which was wonderful. So, to come up with an image that represented those readings every Sunday, that was pure joy.
How do you come up with ideas for your artwork?
I used to collect everything, images from the newspaper, things in the mail. I was inspired by lots of things. For example, the image of the bagels and the coffee (at right). You know, how would that woman celebrate with her friends if she found the lost coin? Well, she'd invite them in for coffee and bagels and so that was such a treat to be able to do things like that and to have bagels and coffee represent the joy that the angels have in heaven over one sinner who repents. I used to say I had the best job in the world, and I think I did. I worked with very creative people.
What are ways you’ve encouraged others to connect art and faith?
My husband and I belong to a small group Bible study at our church, and we meet in different people's houses. And when it's our turn, I always have a Visual Faith activity. I just think of some little drawing or design type activity to go with whatever it is that we're studying. And I know a lot of them are saying inside, “I can't do this!” but they do it. And I think they like it. And they come up with some pretty nice things.
How do you handle a work that doesn’t turn out the way you expected?
If I try and try and try and it still doesn't work, it's really a relief to just drop it. And, I make a lot of greeting cards so frequently I can cut up paintings or art that didn't work and turn it into a greeting card. That's pretty fun. That's very redemptive.
How do you view God using you as an artist?
I see this as a journey. You know those little toys that you wind up and go and then when they hit something, they go in the other direction?
I wanted to be an English teacher. But art is really what happened. And those were the opportunities that presented themselves. I just have to see God's hand in that. And eventually it really was a calling to produce things—to show God's love to other people.