One of the members of the men’s ministry at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore, Maryland, had written a “rosary” highlighting five virtues for men to aspire to. For each, he had selected an example of Jesus displaying the virtue and reinforced it with another example from the apostles or more recent public figures or saints.
The client’s vision was that the draft could be transformed into something beautiful that men would use over and over again as a reference for meditation. He also had a vision for it to “go viral” and be spread electronically to encourage men throughout the world. A mutual friend had connected us and thought we might be a good fit to work on this together.
Our challenge: To design something that could fulfill this vision—to be beautiful and still functional, to look fresh but also timeless, something that could be printed but also easily shared electronically, something that people would want to share.
Inspiration & Information Gathering
As is always the case, the first step was to gather lots of information and ideas. Our client familiarized me with what the rosary is and how it is used. He was hoping that this piece could be used in a similar way. He also invited me to come visit the cathedral in order to gain more background information. He and one of the priests gave me a tour and pointed out highlights in the stained glass windows and throughout the gorgeous building. Read more here about how this cathedral came to be built, a very interesting story! Here are some photos from my visit:
As you can see, there are hundreds of great graphic elements to be inspired by!
The next step was to figure out what format would work well to showcase this content and have it easily used a reference. In looking at the length of the copy and the fact that there were five virtues that they wanted to highlight, a booklet seemed the logical solution. I tested how the copy would work using different page sizes and font sizes. I shared two different sizes of booklets with two different page counts and showed how the content would play out on each.
Once the client selected a booklet format, it was time to design! In this case, I knew that the rest of the booklet design would flow from the cover, so we focused on that first. Here are some of my original sketches when I was brainstorming. First I went back through my photos to see which design elements we may want to pick up from the cathedral. Then, I was really trying to come up with a concept that focused on having five different things make a whole, but unfortunately was unsuccessful! I finally came up with a sketch that seemed like it would work well for this project!
The color blue is strongly associated with the Virgin Mary as well as with men, so I chose blue and black to be the dominant colors. None of the five virtues—Zeal, Courage, Gallantry, Humility, and Loyalty—seemed easily illustrated in a literal way, so I decided to use patterns and different colors of blue to distinguish each. Heavy black vertical bars evoke the idea of stained glass windows as well as reinforcing the concept of strength and virtue. I used the Greek cross as a design element with each virtue name. This was a design element that I noticed on my tour. (See photo above.) Here’s the first draft of the cover:
The clients were happy with the design, but were looking to use more literal scenes from actual stained glass scenes to represent the concepts. This presented us with a new challenge—how to make these five different stained glass windows from different artists and with different colors look cohesive. Here are a couple of the source images that the client selected:
I decided to convert the images to black and white in order to unify them. I then kept the original framework, colors, and patterns and laid the images directly into the “windows” that we had. It was then important to highlight certain areas of the windows to clarify each one’s relationship with the virtue that it embodied. I used a gold overlay on certain areas of the windows to call your attention to that part of the image. I also updated the colors of the crosses to the gold color to further integrate the elements.
The client was very happy with this solution, so I proceeded to lay out the interior of the booklet, using each virtue’s “window” and repeating the heavy black bars and Greek crosses for each section.
The client really liked the new cover and interior design. From beginning to end, we also relied on the great feedback and suggestions of our mutual friend, who is a talented professional writer. The client shared the near-final draft with some of the men at the cathedral and we made final tweaks. We then had the booklet printed along with a “How to Pray the Rosary” flyer insert. We also output a print-friendly version so the piece can be easily shared. The client has plans to use it with the men’s ministry group at the Cathedral.
UPDATE: The booklet has been very well-received and the Men’s Club decided to create a Spanish translation as well. You can download the print-at-home version of both the Spanish and English versions right here and feel free to share!
Mike Skinner was also a featured guest on At Home with Jim and Joy on the EWTN network talking about the Men of Virtue Rosary booklet. You can watch that here. Enjoy!
“Chandra was the perfect collaborator for ‘Men of Virtue,’ bringing equal parts creativity, inspiration, and pragmatism to the project.”
—Mike Skinner, Cathedral of Mary Our Queen