Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Urbana Handbook: a love-hate relationship

The Urbana 12 conference handbook included 11 maps, two versions of the schedule, lists of over 70 restaurants, 20 hotels, 250 missions organizations, details about meals and Bible studies, over 30 bios with photos, and many other pieces of information all wrapped up into 144 pages.The back pocket held a folded 33-inch manuscript of all the passages in Luke that were studied during Urbana. The project took about two months to complete!

As a designer, this is the kind of work that I both love and hate.
I love being able to put a lot of information together in a way that is organized, aesthetically pleasing, and user-friendly. I love using my skills to help people find their way around the often overwhelming experience that Urbana can be. Without the handbook, students would likely be lost and unable to fully participate in all the Urbana offers. The conference handbook is often a memento that Urbana participants will keep for a long time. There is deep satisfaction when I get to walk around Urbana and see everyone holding the handbook I spent so many hours creating.
Luke Manuscript - click to view larger

On the other hand, it is probably the most stressful, demanding project I will ever work on. Having designed the Urbana 09 handbook, I was slightly more prepared for what the experience would be like, but I still could not avoid the late nights working on edits, the frustration of receiving information later than planned, and other obstacles that a project this large naturally incurs. 


Ultimately, the work I do as a designer for twentyonehundred productions is never completely fun. There will always be aspects of my work that are frustrating, difficult, exhausting. At the same time, there's an inexpressible joy that comes from creating something that impacts so many people. Not only do I serve the participants at Urbana through my work, but I also indirectly impact the thousands of people that might hear and respond to the Gospel as a result of the decisions made at Urbana. If I'm still here for Urbana 15, I hope I'll get another opportunity to serve Jesus and advance his kingdom by designing the next conference handbook.

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