In a bygone era, Norman Rockwell pleased the country with images celebrating small-town, family life. His timeless classics made famous by the Saturday Evening Post can be seen in homes and offices, on calendars, mugs, plates, tee shirts and more. Over 25 years after Rockwell’s passing, keeping these images in the public eye became the responsibility of Huntington University graduate Christian Elden.
Christian, a 2002 Huntington University graphic design graduate, worked for Curtis Publishing Company, the exclusive licensor of all artwork related to the Saturday Evening Post, including rights to all Norman Rockwell cover art. The Indianapolis-based company relied on Christian to develop creative ways to keep Rockwell art in the marketplace.
“I had some great opportunities to work on unique projects,” Christian said.
One such opportunity was to help develop a line of merchandise to be sold during the World War II Memorial dedication in Washington, D.C. A local art gallery presented Rockwell’s Four Freedoms: Paintings that Inspired a Nation in conjunction with the dedication in May 2004. The exhibit showcased his famous paintings, Freedom of Speech, Freedom from Want, Freedom of Worship and Freedom from Fear. Christian developed T-shirts, tote bags, mugs, bookmarks and more for purchase throughout the length of the four-month exhibit.
“At Curtis Publishing, I was called to do a variety of different things, which always kept the job fresh and fun,” Christian said. “In addition to the line of products for the World War II Memorial dedication, I worked on a line of women’s fashion shoes that were introduced through Sears and J.C. Penney stores in the spring of 2005. And I worked on more conventional types of products as well, including a line of Christmas ornaments featured on QVC.”
Christian believes that a designer should never feel that he or she has “arrived” as an artist. He says there is always room to learn, grow and mature. He says Huntington University gave him those opportunities within a Christ-centered atmosphere. What he found at Huntington was a close kinship that he says isn’t found on the majority of other college campuses. He liked the fact that Huntington was “small enough to be familiar, yet big enough to always find new things to enjoy.”
“As a transfer student from a large university in Ohio, I was looking for stronger, God-centered relationships, as well as an environment where I could learn life’s lessons from a Christian perspective and grow more confident in God’s will for my life. I found all that at Huntington University,” Christian said. “Having spent a year at a larger institution, I know how it felt to just be a number. You could walk to class on any given day and not see one familiar face. That’s not how I wanted my experience to be.”
The smaller class sizes allowed Christian to get the most out of his professors, who taught him about the real-world situations he’d eventually face in the workforce. He says they helped him figure out how to honor God in his career, even if that goal wasn’t exactly listed in the job description.
“The education I received left me very well equipped with the basics that I needed to succeed,” Christian said. “I learned that in the graphic design field, you have to take it upon yourself to grab what you learn and run with it. You can’t expect others to do it for you, and design is one of those fields where you can’t stop learning or the new blood will run you over.”
Christian felt that being active outside of the classroom played a huge role in his overall college experience. Besides getting involved in campus activities, Christian gleaned practical knowledge and application from an internship he completed at Shuttleworth Inc. At the local company, Christian had the opportunity to experience the day-to-day work environment of a professional designer. He was involved in developing direct mail pieces, packaging concepts, trade show graphics and advertisements.
Christian has also worked as a graphic designer for Warner Press, a Christian resource publisher in Anderson, Ind. His responsibilities include creating and developing Warner Press products and marketing support materials such as catalogs, brochures, church bulletins, classroom resources and illustrations for children's materials.
Through Christian’s experiences and a well-rounded education at Huntington University, he gained the insights and skills to catapult him into a successful graphic design career.
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