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Choosing a Saint for an Icon

You may recall from our series on the history and traditions of iconography that iconographers are always given icons to create as assignments.

While the first several icons I created were saints that I simply knew were popular and had heard of before in Catholic school, it wasn’t long before requests started coming in — and then, once I truly grasped just how many saints there are and realized I will probably NEVER run out, I started taking commissions. While I am able to choose a few for myself to create each year, the majority of all new Modern Saints come from commissions!

I love this process because I’ve always been the type of creative person who likes to have parameters and assignments, since I always feel more creative once I have those boundaries to work with. I also simply love being able to hear the stories, often incredible, behind how this saint came to mean so much to the person commissioning the image. Heading about their connections is what keeps me going with this project, and was part of the inspiration for the format of our book! It’s fascinating to work with the commissioner as well to determine how they picture this saint, and what special, personal details or important pieces they would like to be included in the piece.

I have also always loved stories and history, so getting to research each new commission is such a joy for me - and each new Saint typically becomes my new favorite!

As far as the Saints I choose myself, I try to look for gaps in the patronages, time periods, and places of origin in the Saints I have already depicted, working towards my goal of making sure everyone feels they are represented in the Saints - because they are!! Sometimes I’m also inspired by a surprising story of a Saint that I think introduces so many new ideas about how one can be a person of faith.


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