February 3, 2021

Q & A with Grace Graphic Designer Mandie Spear: Using Your Gifts for the Kingdom

By Grace Church

Ever wonder who’s the creative genius behind our beautiful Grace graphics? Meet Mandie Spear – our full-time, remote Graphic Designer, whose heart is as big as her talent.

Mandie, you are our very first remote staff member. How did that unfold? What brought you to Grace Church?
That would be Kelly Adkins, the Internet, and the Lord! Definitely the Lord!

I was working as a freelance graphic designer here in Charlotte, North Carolina, when I met Kelly through Dribbble (which is a social media site for graphic designers). Kelly loved my work, and she sent me a message saying that she was looking for a designer in the Central Florida area to join the Grace team. At the time, I thought, “Oh that sounds so great, and Grace looks amazing, and I’ve never been to Disney World so THAT sounds good!” But my husband and I were pretty settled in Charlotte, so Kelly and I decided to work on a few projects together on a freelance basis.

I got to work on the Grace Christmas 2019 graphics, and it was such a fun project. I just loved working with Kelly and the Grace brand. After that I was invited to work on the Easter design for 2020, and by the time I finished that, Covid hit. Suddenly everyone was working remotely anyway, and Kelly offered me the job because we’d enjoyed working together so much. It was a perfect timing for a perfect fit.

So I joined the Grace team remotely. I still live in North Carolina and attend a local church, but I also worship online with Grace and Zoom into staff meetings. It was really cool how God put all those pieces together. The pieces fit so well that there’s no way I could have put them together…because I’m not very good at puzzle making!

How did you get into graphic design?
As a kid, I loved art, and my parents really encouraged me to be creative. When I went to college, I didn’t know much about graphic design, so I signed up for a general art major. At the end of my first semester, I had to pick a direction so I kind of went in blindly and chose graphic design. All that to say, I’m so thankful for patient professors! From there I just grew to love it. To me, graphic design combines everything I love about art, but adds greater meaning to it with all of the concepts behind the design.

What’s your process for creating a design?
I draw a lot at the beginning. That helps me get my thoughts out quickly. They call it “ideation,” which is basically a big word for, “Here’s a paper and pencil – now sketch a bunch of what comes into your mind!” From there I take pictures, scan them into the computer, and then I use different programs to paint and sketch my ideas digitally. There’s so many different ways to do it, and oh my goodness, the technology now! It can get really tech-y fast, but I’m just an old-school pen-and-paper kind of artist.

What’s it like to be part of a staff team remotely?
Well, I love it! As a freelancer, I worked one-on-one with clients, so I didn’t have the benefit of a team. Just having that team aspect has brought a lot of joy into my life. I look forward to communicating with them, getting their feedback, seeing things through their perspective. For so long I was designing in a silo, and now I have this flood of support and direction.

It’s been especially helpful because 2020 was a fog to me. I feel like Grace has brought such gospel clarity to 2020. Being part of staff meetings and watching sermons online, Grace constantly points me back to the gospel as a beacon of light. And we might not see the way in front of us right now, but we can see that light, and so if we just walk toward that, all this stuff around us will dissipate. In staff meetings and on Sundays, that perspective is just a constant, and I think it’s so biblical.

What do you love most about using your gifts for the Kingdom?
It’s funny, recently we were talking about wholeness at Grace, and I was thinking, that’s really what I love about using my gifts for God’s Kingdom. I love being one part of a greater whole. We’re all part of one body, and we’re called to exercise our gifts – whatever they are – for the glory of God and the health and benefit of the body as a whole. As we work together, all the pieces and components fit together to form a whole picture.

What advice would you give someone who feels like their gifts and abilities aren’t “ministry-related”?
Sometimes we categorize jobs into “ministry” and non-ministry “secular” jobs, and we can get hung up on that, and feel like our job is less spiritual if it’s not “ministry-related.” But as Christians, we’re all called to take the gospel to the world. Instead of getting wrapped up in the vocational aspects of a job, and defining our tasks as “spiritual” or “unspiritual,” I think it’s so freeing to focus instead on “calling.” Whatever that is, and wherever God’s placed you, your calling is purposeful and particular for His sovereign plan and the benefit of His Kingdom. Because no matter what your work looks like, your truest work is to show His greatness.

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