The term technical artist is an excellent description for those who work in church production, but the phrase still needs a little defining. To paint a better picture, here are 10 traits of a technical artist.
- A Technical Artist is a Creative Professional
- A Technical Artist is an Artist
- A Technical Artist is a Master of his or her Craft
- A Technical Artist is a Worship Leader
- A Technical Artist is a Person who Engages with Others
- A Technical Artist is a Minister
- A Technical Artist is a Servant
- A Technical Artist is a Leader
- A Technical Artist is a Team Player
- A Technical Artist is an Expert in Technology
One of my biggest pet peeves is when production roles are put in the “non-creative” box.
A lot of times I’m around groups of church creatives and technical artists, each group tends to be put in their own box. Graphic designers, communications directors and videographers are put in the creative box, audio engineers, lighting designers and tech directors are put into the technical box.
There is no divide between creative and technical roles. Graphic designers and communications directors spend plenty of time working on technical aspects of their work like planning content, organizing assets, or scheduling teams. In the same way, audio engineers and technical directors spend plenty of time working on creative tasks like telling stories, designing systems, and crafting beautiful experiences.
Whether it’s a production role or a communications one, all church creatives do both technical and creative work.
To run production is to create art. Production isn’t like a painting or a piece of music. It’s an art form that exists to enhance and amplify other art. In a way it’s a “service-art,” it’s not the focus of your attention. Production’s job is to get out of the way so other art can be front and center.
Production requires a unique type of artist.
It’s easy to understand how a graphic designer or filmmaker is a creative professional. You see their art on screen and you think, oh, that’s a beautiful work of art. It’s different for technical artists. Technical artists work behind the scenes. Our art is at it’s best when it’s out of the way, not the center of attention.
Technical Artists create art through light, sound, graphics and set designs.
Just like any other vocation or trade, production takes a lifetime to master. You start by learning the basics and over time, you develop the skills and techniques to master your specific area of live production.
For the tech artist, the path to Mastery looks something like this:
- Learn the gear
- Develop your skills
- Master the craft
Since I’m an audio production artist by trade, here’s how the path to mastery works for me:
- Learn the gear. I spent time understand the basics of how sound works, learning things like audio consoles, speakers, patching, etc.
- Develop your skills. Over time, I learned how to use the different gear and I mastered techniques like mic placement EQ, compression, and gain structure.
- Master the craft. For audio production artist’s, the goal is to develop your ear. Anyone can patch a few channels and unmute mics at the right time. A master of audio has a well developed ear for musical composition and mixing.
The goal of a technical artist is to master the craft of live production.
To run production is to lead worship. People follow the lyrics you project on screens. Your lighting cues direct attention to what’s happening in the room. You are responsible for creating and enhancing the worship experience.
Production teams make it possible for others to worship. How can you respond to the message if you can’t hear the preacher? How can you know what’s going on if you can’t see who’s speaking? How can the worship team lead if they can’t hear themselves?
Technical artists shape how people worship. Just like a worship leader shapes how people worship through song selection and leading music, we use technology to create environments that enable others to worship.
You are a worship leader no matter which side of the microphone you’re on.Ryan Howell
There’s a stereotype where people who work in production serve so they can hide behind the scenes. A healthy technical artist engages with people and knows their service means working with and serving others.
Become an excellent technical artist means knowing the people you work with, not just on your production team, but on the worship team, leadership team and your congregation. Get to know what people are going through, how you can help them, and participate in community with them.
Technical artists minister to the worship team, the leadership team, other technical artists, and the entire church. We are a support ministry and make it possible for other ministries to do their work with excellence.
You minister through the work you do. Through serving, creating beauty, and helping others worship, you minister to the people in your church. Working with excellence, you enable others to succeed in their own ministry areas.
You minister through how you respond to problems. In production, something always goes wrong. The point is to be prepared for when things to go wrong. How you respond as a technical artist is an opportunity to minister to the people in your church. You can respond in frustration, or you can choose to respond in grace and love, building relationships with others.
While our ministry looks different than the other ministries in our churches, technical artists have the ability to minister in unique ways.
The main work of a technical artist is serving others. You serve your worship team by helping them lead others in worship. You serve your church by eliminating distractions so they can engage in worship. You serve others by doing your work with excellence.
Focus on how you can minister through serving. It can be as simple as troubleshooting issues with grace or going out of your way to serve those on the worship team. Serve others with excellence. The mark of a great technical artist is mastering the art of serving others.
Leadership in the technical arts looks different than other ministries. Technical artists aren’t often called to be on stage, leading directly. Instead, technical artists lead through serving.
Servant leadership is the way of Christ. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45) Jesus is the example of how we are to serve others.
As you serve others, use your service to lead. Lead by example and excellence. Over time you will earn the trust and respect of your community and you will be trusted with more and more leadership.
Production can’t be done alone, it takes a team. A strong technical artist understands how they rely on other members on their team to enhance the worship experience.
One of the marks of a great technical artist is how they work with others. Are they willing to collaborate and create with other technical artists? Or are they focused on their own skills and spend time competing and comparing themselves to others?
To grow as a technical artist, trade your competition and comparison for community and collaborating. Your fellow tech artist is part of your team. As you grow with other tech artists, you become a better artist and your entire team flourishes.
For most technical artists, technology comes naturally. This is why many of us get into production in the first place. We’re passionate about tech and we love using it to help others.
It’s a great ministry opportunity, too. Since technology has become a part of everyday life, we can use our skills to help people save money, use technology more effectively, and create ways to use technology for the common good.
Technology is also a struggle, fighting for our time, attention, and sleep. Technical artists are experts in technology. We shape the conversation of how technology affects us and explore healthy habits for how we should use technology.