Meet the team: Doug Johnson
[Doug Johnson, twenty years art editor for CH]
How long have you been at CHI, and what is your role?
My first official issue was Michelangelo (#91 in 2006), almost 20 years ago. I’ve been design editor, and I create the visual editorial. I listen to the editors discuss the issue to bring a compelling visual expression of the content. Images are editorial content and directly bring information words alone can’t express. I seek to make the content more tangible, thinking of contemporary visual parallels. I encourage using different artistic mediums, such as sculpture, engravings, stained glass, paintings, and relevant everyday objects. A strong design layout might have a painting, a sculpture, a papyrus fragment, and an object you might hold, like a ring.
Images can add contrast to what you’re reading and bring out humor or irony, directly communicating more strongly than words alone. I use consistent visual vocabulary but make unexpected juxtapositions when editorially appropriate. I strive for readers to see articles differently than expected. Without the art researcher and the editor’s vision, I couldn’t do it.
What is your favorite part of the job?
I like collaborating with editors and image researchers. Each brings a distinct perspective. We find an overlapping sweet spot in what we’re looking to say, when we’re tracking together. That’s a great feeling.
What do you most wish readers knew?
High-quality images can be quite challenging to access for historical topics, and some seem impossible to get. I enjoy the challenge of working with diverse qualities of images and maintaining visually consistent standards, especially when only low-resolution copies are available instead of the lost original high-quality artwork. The range of image quality is very broad. I don’t want that to obscure readers’ experiences. Each image is retouched to enhance how it will print.
What do you do in your spare time?
I am a travel photographer and am on the road most of the time. One of the really great things about working with Christian History magazine is being able to work remotely. I have a 27-inch iMac that I bring with me. If necessary, I’ll go into a place like Panera and set it up to work for hours. I try to be discreet; however, I meet a lot of curious people.
I enjoy that. I’ve met everyone from motivational speakers, financial advisors, and artists to even a Memphis woman who had known Elvis as a teen. Right now I’m at a historic grist mill in rural West Virginia. I’m a fan of old-school diners and vintage neon signs, whether functioning or abandoned. I spent a month in New Jersey going to 120 diners and tried to eat a cheeseburger at each one. In Memphis I even went to every obscure barbecue joint rumored to be the best by locals. CH
By Doug Johnson
[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #148 in 2023]
Editor's note: Lilias Trotter
Trotter loved art but loved Jesus moreJennifer Woodruff Tait
A key in the Master’s hand
An unsung artist and missionary whose story unlocks many doorsMiriam Huffman Rockness
“The marvel of springtime”
Hope in Christ for your soul’s next graceLilias Trotter
Learning to see
John Ruskin loomed large over an art world and a culture wrestling with both truth and beautyKirstin Jeffrey Johnson & Jennifer Trafton
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