Art and Instagram inspire aesthetically pleasing Bible

A new creative team from California visualized a Bible printed in more than black and white, with pictures, creative fonts and engaging designs to attract younger readers to the Bible.

After attempting to read the Bible when he first converted to Christianity, Brian Chung found a less-than engaging Bible with little color, images or entertaining content. Chung, co-founder of Alabaster Co., told LA Times, “There were 20 pages before you actually got to Genesis … As an artist and designer and a reader, I was thinking, ‘This is not good design.’”

According to Alabaster, they “integrate visual imagery and thoughtful design into different texts of the Bible. We’re interested in how imagery changes the way you experience the text. Art allows us to ask questions and reflect in ways we wouldn’t on our own.”

John Brown University junior April Fulkerson said she thinks this is an interesting way to grab the attention of new believers. “It’s a way to get involved and interact with the stories, but I think that in the long run, for spiritual growth purposes, you’ll probably have to move past that at some point,” Fulkerson said.

According to the LA Times, Alabaster got its inspiration from magazines such as Cereal, Kinfolk and Drift. In the new design of the books, the text is sans-serif font, filled with images similar to what’s found on Instagram, and full of negative space.

“Visual culture is everything for millennials,” Alabaster co-founder Bryan Ye-Chung said. “That’s what is important to us, too, so we wondered: Why can’t a faith-based product take advantage of that space as well?”

Junior Rachel Hustedde said that aesthetically pleasing book covers draw her attention. She will sometimes keep a book just for the beautiful cover artwork.

The LA Times reported that the full text of a biblical book is placed inside publications that “resemble chic, indie lifestyle and design magazines — like those you might find on your most fashionable friend’s coffee table.”

Fulkerson said that when she looks at books, she finds two different designs intriguing: either super aesthetically pleasing or an old and archaic look. Alabaster is continuing to create a more aesthetically pleasing design for readers.

Currently available on Alabaster’s website are the books of Proverbs, Psalms, Romans, and the four Gospels. The prices range from $30-$70 for an individual book to $155 for a set of six. During the second year of selling their books, they sold approximately 10,000 books, with the majority of their customers being between the ages of 21 and 35.

In the end, Alabaster’s website said it believes that beauty matters to God: “Kalos is the word for beauty in the original Greek; it literally means beautiful as a sign of inward goodness. This means beauty isn’t just an aesthetic—it’s a way of going through the world. To live beautifully is to live a life that contributes to human flourishing—in our work, in our relationships, in our communities.”

Ye-Chung said, “When you look at Christian culture, most of the ways that we experience God are through the written word or spoken words — when you listen to sermons, which is spoken, or when you read, when we sing songs,” he said. “For us, there’s this whole visual language or visual medium that I think we can also experience God through.”