Our social media feeds are lighting up with the sharing of this year’s Advent Journal, Bearing Light. We’ve all been captivated by the beautiful cover design, which will compel us deeper into prayer as we journey through this Advent as a sisterhood. Today, we’re chatting with the designer of that beautiful cover, Erica Tighe, to talk about her inspiration and hope for Bearing Light.
Bearing Light: An Interview with the Designer
You design regularly for Blessed is She, and you’ve designed liturgical journals in the past. What is your creative process for a project like this?
I always have this fear that I won’t have an interesting idea for the liturgical journals after designing them for four years. But the beauty of Blessed is She is that a new author writes each year. While it’s the same story for both Advent and Lent, the writer’s interpretation is always different. Each person has dug deeper into a different idea around the season.
I start by reading the final copy and saying a prayer to the Holy Spirit to inspire me and give me an idea of the design. I try to think about what the author is trying to convey and how I could bring that idea to life visually.
The idea usually comes to me while I am working out or taking a shower. It almost always comes out of left field—something that I wasn’t even thinking of previously and so then I know that it is of the Spirit. Sometimes my heart even beats fast.
Before you read Shannon’s writing for this particular Advent Journal, did you already have a design or feel in mind, or do you wait to be inspired by her words?
I always go into it without any preconceived ideas. I let the words speak to me and design from that place!
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Did the cover design come to you immediately, or were there trial and error designs beforehand?
On my own idea, I was thinking of designing an actual light. A lamp of sorts, with the bulb shining down. I wasn’t in love with the idea and was praying more and more for Divine guidance. After a work out one day, I was laying on the ground, and the image of all these ladies popped into my head. I was so inspired by this idea that we are all called to bear God’s image. Mother Teresa and Josephine Bahkita were such good examples to all of us. I am called, and you are called, to do the same. I felt like this design was brought to me by Mary and she wanted to call out to all of us that we are called to be the light in this world.
What challenges did this design process present? What obstacles did you have to overcome?
Gold leaf on complicated designs always poses a problem. Our printer told me that he wasn’t going to be able to line up the gold leaf of the halos on top of the paintings and I begged him to try. I promised I thought it would work. I am so glad I convinced him to do it, because it came out exactly like it was in my head.
Ok, tell us about the cover itself! What does it mean? What message do you hope it conveys? Are the women modeled after real life women? Tell us everything!
I wanted to show that the Saints that Shannon wrote about in the Journal are women like us. I wanted to show women of different sizes, shapes, ages, color. Something I love about Blessed is She—and something I always notice when I attend the BIS retreats—is that all women are involved and included. It’s so inspiring to see women with gray hair raise their hands in praise right next to their young granddaughters. This is a community for all of us.
What role, if any, did Our Lady play in the inspiration of and design for this project?
I have such a love and devotion for Mary. She accompanies me and pops up in my life in very real ways if I ever drift. This Journal is about her “yes” and I felt her saying to me, “inclusion, inclusion, inclusion.” She is a Mother and example for all of us. I always have little conversations with her throughout the day and the day I painted all these ladies, she was there.
Were there any elements of music, art, or nature that inspired and accompanied you during this project?
Only the beauty of the Magnificat!
You’re getting married in December! And you’ve “lived” Advent already through the prayerful reading and design of this book. How has your preparation for this particular Advent Journal, which focuses on Mary’s great “yes,” prepared you to give your own “yes” to the vocation God has called you to?
We are really close to the wedding now! Back in July when I was painting, my fiancé and I were going through the trenches of engagement. Not only is planning a wedding stressful, but we are finding the planning of new jobs, finding a new home, moving to the same city, etc. to be even more stressful. So I was telling my spiritual director that we were in a period of misunderstandings and difficulty.
He said to me, “Good! Engagement is like pregnancy. You’re preparing for new life together and therefore your old life has to literally die. Pregnancy is not easy, your whole body is hijacked. You’ll be tired and not at your best. But it is all good and normal and necessary. And at the end you’ll get this new life and it will be beautiful.”
And in him telling me it was normal, I had such relief and had a new sense of saying “yes” to the process. To saying yes to the pain of dying and “yes” to the new life that was coming. And truly, truly after waiting until I’m 30 years old to get married, my heart magnifies the Lord and rejoices in God the Savior!
Don’t forget to order your Advent Journal so you can pray through the Magnificat with us this year!Bearing Light Advent Journal // An Interview with the Designer #BISblog #bisadvent // Click To Tweet
Erica Tighe is a calligrapher and painter in Los Angeles. She is the owner of Be A Heart and prays daily to know God’s will, which always takes her on unforeseen paths. Erica was a missionary in Brazil with Heart’s Home. She loves to ride her bike, take hikes, and throw dinner parties.
Olivia Spears lives in Kentucky, where sweet tea and bourbon flow like milk and honey. She works from home as an editor and social media manager while raising her children and laughing with her husband. Although she now spends most of her free time away from the internet, past adventures are still on her blog. You can find out more about her here.