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Jon Taylor: Trusting the Process

Jonathan Taylor
Jon Taylor ’99

He must increase, but I must decrease. — John 3:30.

“This verse was instrumental in my decision to name my business ‘Creator’s Brush,’” said Jon Taylor (Commercial Art ’99, M.A. ’01). As owner and CEO of an art studio and gallery within the Ark Encounter, he seeks to inspire guests through live paintings and exhibit narrations. “This platform at the Ark allows me to encourage those interested in pursuing art as a career,” he said. Jon has had many opportunities to do what someone did for him several years ago.

Finding Inspiration

Growing up in a missionary family in Brazil, Jon dreamed of becoming a bush pilot—until 1994. While working in construction to fund his flight training, Jon suffered a nearly fatal accident that damaged the nerves and muscles in his left leg. “The doctors strongly advised against a career in aviation due to the frequency of pressurization changes and the potential for blood clots,” Jon explained. “I was devastated.”

While Jon recovered, a relative brought him a meal and some art supplies, and after seeing his work, challenged him to pursue fine art. “Something inside prompted me to give it a shot, so I called my dad and asked him what he thought,” he said. “He was all for it.” Jon’s dad, the most creative person he knew, had heard good things about the art program at Pensacola Christian College and encouraged him to check it out. “I took my dad’s advice, and the rest is history.”

Jonathan Taylor painting a landscape
Absorbing and Processing

As he looks over how God orchestrated his career, Jon recalls the foundational skills and preparation received during his time at PCC. “I can trace much of my instincts as an artist and designer back to those early days of training,” he said. “Even to this day, every project I do requires trusting the process, especially when the outcome is unclear.”

“God pricked my heart, and I made a commitment that I, too, wanted to illustrate the Bible.”

From sophomore to senior year, Jon Taylor had the privilege to work as an Abeka Publishing illustrator beside Brian Jekel, PCC’s artist-in-residence. Each day Jon would eagerly rush into work to watch Jekel paint Bible Flash-A-Card scenes. “It wasn’t just [his] raw talent that impressed me the most; it was his whole creative process and his desire to do his best work for God’s glory,” Jon said. “God pricked my heart, and I made a commitment that I, too, wanted to illustrate the Bible.”

After earning his undergraduate degree, Jon found that part of the process was waiting. “For six months, I worked in landscaping. I had sent out over 40 résumés and portfolios to many big companies, but nothing came of it,” he said. Jon’s mom urged him to make some calls, and when he did, the secretary of IAM Studios got their CEO on the phone with him for a successful interview. “IAM was one of the premier studios in the toy industry, and during my time there, I did a lot of work for Mattel, Hasbro, Milton Bradley, and Fisher-Price,” he said. “I worked on products like Hot Wheels, Candy Land, Rescue Heroes, Imaginext, Leap Frog, and many more.”

“As an illustrator of God’s Word, I am able to narrate a much bigger story—God’s story.”

Jonathan Taylor's painting at an exhibit

Jon’s work for IAM caught the eye of Dan Zordell, vice president of marketing for Answers in Genesis (AiG), who was searching for an illustrator for the Creation Museum. Jon joined AiG in 2009 as an illustrator and was soon introduced to the 3D world of exhibit design. “Talk about a brainbuster! Going from 2D to a 3D world was a rollercoaster ride for me,” Jon said. “Whether I’m building a 3,000-square-foot attraction, a mural, an illustration, or a fine art painting, the ability to communicate visually comes down to solid design fundamentals. These fundamentals were instilled in me early in the art program and reinforced in the master’s degree at PCC.”

While Jon appreciates the academic emphasis of PCC’s art program, he most values the foundation built on Christ and His Word. “I love storytelling, especially as it relates to the visual narrative,” he said. “And as an illustrator of God’s Word, I am able to narrate a much bigger story—God’s story.”

Applying Paint to the Canvas
Jonathan Taylor at a live performance

On Deck 2 of the Ark Encounter, a small crowd can be found gathered around Jon as he paints. He often pauses to explain the piece, answer questions, share tips and techniques to inspire budding artists, or even pray over an individual’s personal need. “The mission of Creator’s Brush is to magnify the Creator with the talent God has granted me,” Jon said. “That’s what I try to focus on during my experiences with guests visiting the Ark Encounter.”

After 20 years in the art industry, Jon Taylor is reminded almost daily how important it is to develop an artistic process from a solid, biblical foundation. He’s grateful for his early training at PCC and for the examples he had that inspired his own creative process. “Especially in this culture, I believe we need Christian artists and studios that are producing high-quality art motivated primarily on magnifying God,” he said. “We need creatives to step up and do more to inspire people towards our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Read more about how God is directing and working through PCC faculty and alumni.