Artist Spotlight: Jake Weidmann

ESV Single Column Journaling Bible, Artist Series

The ESV Single Column Journaling Bible, Artist Series is a collection of journaling Bibles meant to celebrate the treasure of God’s Word through the artistic talents of his people. These Bibles feature commissioned cover artwork designed by Christian artists such as Peter Voth, Ruth Chou Simons, and Joshua Noom. Each artist offers a visual entry point focused on a particular biblical theme or passage, setting a tone of reflection as readers engage with the Bible.

Each of these decorative hardcover Bibles retains the features of the original ESV Single Column Journaling Bible, such as cream-colored paper, a single-column page layout, and lines in the margin for note taking. These features coupled with captivating cover artwork make each Bible conducive to creative engagement with God’s Word.

About the Artist of Dwelling Place

Jake Weidmann is a professional artist and the youngest certified master penman in history. He has spoken from the TEDx Mile High stage twice as well as to a private group of animators at Pixar Studios. Weidmann works primarily with private commissioners and has also partnered with clients such as Apple and Biola University.

Jake's work is featured on the cover of the ESV Single Column Journaling Bible, Artist Series. Below is a conversation we had with him about his work and the way his faith informs it.

When did your artistic journey begin and what are some of the defining moments that led to where you are today?

When I was six years old, I came home from school one day to find my house on fire. The small amount of clothes and toys that were not destroyed had to be decontaminated from the smoke damage, and I had little to call my own. A family friend generously gave some stuffed animals to my siblings and me to comfort us during the transition. Mine was a small stuffed parrot with an elastic loop for feet. This small bird and my pencil and paper were my constant companions, and I wanted for nothing more. I was always drawing and my stuffed friend was always nearby.

One day in the first grade I decided to draw my cherished toy before class started. I drew him perched in a tree with a nest of baby birds in the background. My teacher, Mrs. K., looked over my shoulder and praised my work with sweet excitement. She had me write my name on the bottom and she took it from me, saying that she wanted to hang it up in the classroom. Three days later I came to school and as I was hanging my backpack up on my hook in the hallway, I looked up to see my drawing on the wall, matted in black construction paper and adorned with a blue ribbon. I had won my very first art competition and I didn’t even know I was entered. It was from that moment on that I would identify myself as an artist.

Who or what has influenced your work the most?

I view much of my work as building on the strokes of past masters. Through calligraphy, I am able to bring a new level of expression to my realism paintings, drawings, and carvings, and I look to Master Penmen of the past, many of whom lived through the Golden Age of Penmanship and who executed their calligraphic art to near perfection. Knowing what is possible with the pen serves as a massive inspiration to me. The old Masters paved the way I now walk in. My father also prayed the calling and prayer of Bezalel over my life from a young age. Bezalel, of course, serves as an inspiration to me as he was the head artist in charge of building the tabernacle and the first to have ever received the gift of the Holy Spirit. He is described by the Lord in Exodus 31: “I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver, and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.” (Exodus 31: 3–5, NIV)

What role does your faith play in your artistic style and process?

I was raised in a Christian home with a deep love for God, and I knew from an early age that he was the source of my giftedness as an artist. I would later attend Biola University, which gave me a chance to get to know God better and to take personal ownership of my faith. I never studied art formally and was rejected from their art program, actually. I pursued psychology, thinking I would make a career from this. During this time, I fell in love with this unfathomable creative God and my art became my worship to him, outside of conventional training and formalities. He was not only the source of my talent, he also became the reason that I do it today. Identifying myself with God as a creator and originator galvanized my relationship with him in ways I had never thought possible. I know that the work he does inwardly with me is directly reflected in my artwork. Because of that, my art serves as a bid for connection between God and his people.

What are three adjectives you would use to describe your work?

Holy. Legacy. Worship.

Is there a specific passage of Scripture that informed this work?

Psalm 84 was the inspiration behind my original artwork, Dwelling Place, which now adorns the ESV Single Column Journaling Bible.

Learn more about the ESV Single Column Journaling Bible, Artist Series.

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