Final preparations for the WELS National Worship Conference

Here's an overview of print materials I'm bringing to this year's WELS National Worship Conference.

See the new edition of business cards below.  I'm planning some fun ways to distribute them at the conference.  If you are attending, keep your eyes peeled.  If you come across a cube or a stray pack of cards...finders keepers.  You may see them in stacks at vendors tables...take a few, leave the stack.   COLLECT AND TRADE WITH YOUR FRIENDS!  12 CARDS IN ALL!  (Don't worry I have plenty...)

I spent some time mounting prints for the artists exhibit.  Remember to cast your vote in the people's choice award!

And this too-tall-for-the-studio banner is ready for action.
Purchase the digital file for the banner above as well as other artwork produced exclusively for the Worship Conference at

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A timber frame table

Occasionally, I'll do something fun for the house!  This table brings together legs milled from an Ash trunk (thanks to the Krohn family), old barn timbers (thanks to the Flitter family), oak pegs (thanks to my friend Jesse Ellerbroek), a 4x6 Fir beam originally intended to for sculpture (thanks to my brother Dan), and fence posts and a marble slab that predate our time at the house (thanks Victor and Olga Voecks).  3 days in the making, its the kind of thing I can only afford to do in the summer.  I love the flow of a project like this.  Brains, brawn, care, and joy all go into the planning, cutting, fitting, and finishing.  My right arm felt like it was going to fall off from swinging mallets and hatchets.  Big joinery and I are BFF.  
In the end it looks like either classic National park furniture, an Ancient Roman workbench, or a California hippy dining room table.  I look forward to morning coffees and evening s'mores... 

Note:  My dad helped with the milling of the legs years ago and with supervision days ago.  He's always been a helper.

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Well that was different...

My easel surprised me today.  I've had a long day of organizing tasks, scheduling, communication, and miscellaneous office work.  It's all very necessary, but frustrating when I have so many deadlines coming up. I really need to be producing work.  Even on summer schedule it feels like there just isn't enough time!

Then this happened.  At the end of the day I decided to set up some boards for future work.  Staging.  Then I figured I could squeeze in the rough drawing, seal the wood and let it dry overnight.  So I started to draw.  I just dragged the conte' crayon across the surface.  And then again. And another long swoop...

No reference photos, little preliminary work (see thumbnail drawing below), and not planning on doing this today.  I've never produced anything that looks like this.  Romanesque cloisonne icon? It was really fun to make.  And easy.

It's taken me a long time to be okay with easy.  Maybe years of experience have made drawing more natural for me, maybe I don't feel such a pressing urge to prove myself anymore, maybe I'm just weary.  Easy was good for today.

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Wally Wood's 22 panels that always work

I did a little composition exercise recently.  There is a legendary reference sheet for graphic novel and comic artists called "Wally Wood's 22 panels that always work".  Evidently it was developed to help artists new to the demands of sequential art cope with conversation-heavy scripts.  Another title for this might be, "how to keep things visually interesting when nothing's happening".  You can see a printout of the original sticking out on the right.
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Easter weekend sand animations with Koine

It was an honor to be invited to participate in the Tenebrae and Easter morning services with Koine at St. Marcus Lutheran in Milwaukee.  I prepared a few sand animation sequences, packed the sand table and brought a bunch of family along with.

Collapsed sand animation table in the trunk...

Some of the Koine t-shirts I designed hanging next to Stephanie Barenz' brilliant painting in St. Marcus.

Setting up the sand table Good Friday morning.  Lots of technical issues to figure out.  We tried three cameras, two mounts, and a few methods of communicating with the projector.  Of course there are easy ways to do these things, but they aren't all sufficiently graceful.  So much goes into eliminating distractions.
I practiced sand as Brian and the band give me a live run through of "Mary Did You Know?"

This is the full Tenebrae service from Friday at 5:00 pm.  The events of Good Friday are relayed here in unyielding truth, rare grace, and confrontational power.  It was humbling to participate in this ministry with dedicated servants, such as Pastor Mark Jeske and the members of Koine, who have been vigilant in seeking ways to connect people with the Gospel.  The service will break you down and build you up in ways you need.  It's structure and artistry unfold and entwine Law and Gospel, Sin and Grace, Death and Life like any good Lutheran sermon.  I'm grateful that God has blessed us with such a ministry.

If you want to skip to my 4:00-4:50 you can see a crucifixion sequence in which my illustrations are set into motion by Koine guitarist Benj Lawrenz.  28:20-32:05 will get you to the sand animation of "Mary Did You Know?"  At 1:14:18 you can see some of my sumie ink paintings begin melting in and out of view in the environmental projections as "O Darkest Woe" is played.

The 7:30 Tenebrae Service goes almost the same as the 5:00.  The video editing is a bit different.  Also, it's significant to note that pianist, Seth Bauer, was absent from this service because his wife went into labor in the earlier service.  However he was back in action Sunday morning after the birth of their healthy baby girl.  Not being a musician, I was amazed at the way the band adapted with only minutes to spare.  Matt Scott, the bassist, assured me that they've been playing music together long enough that they could kind of sense what each other was going to do.  There was no choice but to make it work.

You do get a glimpse of one of my pre-service sand drawings in the first few minutes.  At about 8:10 the motion graphic crucifixion sequence.  I feel that the sand animation for "Mary Did You Know" (at 32:35-36:20) was stronger in this service.  Pastor Jeske had some nice compliments for me about the 7:30 version.  The soaking ink wash drawings begin appearing around 1:18:20, though the camera is not quite wide enough to see them clearly.

7 am Easter Sunday  service!  A fantastic hymn by Martin Luther, "Christ Jesus Lay in Death's Strong Bands".   The imagery here deals with the spiritual battle of Easter.  Freedom isn't free...The sand begins at 1:53.

This song, "Wake Up Sleeper" is a Koine original.  It came at the end of the service and speaks to a sanctified life as it slowly picks up momentum and brightens like a sunny morning.  I began with a sunrise image and moved through the representations of the Means of Grace (Word and Sacraments) to remind us of the ways God comes to us.   Sand at 2:20.

God's timing conveniently had my brother's family move to Milwaukee mere weeks before.  He is the new Director of Marketing for Kingdom Workers.  We spared them the hassle of hosting us with so little time to prepare.  Still, their house looked all unpacked and settled in such a short time!  Very fun to spend some time with family in a different setting.

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Lenticular models from Design Fugitives!

I'm considering the possibility of doing a lenticular image as an anniversary piece for New Life Lutheran, Shoreview, MN.  A lenticular image is really multiple images sliced up and aimed in different directions.  When the viewer's point of view changes, a different image reveals itself.  I would like to present the theme of new life by greeting visitors and members walking in the door with an image of a butterfly emerging from its cocoon.  The flip side, seen as one leaves the sanctuary and walks toward the door, would be an image of Jesus.  Combining multiple images suggests a connection between them.  I hope this would become an enduring visual metaphor of our new life in Christ. 
Thanks to Design Fugitives in Milwaukee for the 3D models.  They made a few more, but these get the lenticular idea across.  Check out their awesome products and processes at

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A Super Exchange

The picture on the left came in the mail for me.  Written on the back, in my sister's handwriting, "To Jason From Jacksen".  Jacksen is my 4-year old nephew.  I was pretty sure I was looking at Spiderman.  The picture on the right is going in the mail for him.  Could be the start of something...

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paper marbling and dying samples

I've just finished scanning and stitching together 49 marbled and dyed papers for my personal texture library.  A few samples are included in this post.  

Both processes tread a tightrope between control and random effects.  Marbling is a fluid process that happens to be frozen when the paper hits the water.  The dying samples were made by soaking folded paper and dipping edges and corners in fabric dye.  Japanese Mulberry paper captures the patterns and soaks the dye beautifully.

Both methods encourage "happy accidents" and require comfort with ambiguity.   In other words you have to be okay with whatever happens.  These are likely to appear as elements in future illustrations.

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