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Interview with Blaine Hogan

Blaine Hogan is a rarity in the church world. I don’t know any other serious minded actors and creative directors who are producing at his level in a local church. I’m not saying there aren’t any; I just don’t know them. He’s performed at every single STORY and is a continual source of inspiration for me. My interview with him…

1. You’ve acted in TV shows and theater and are quite good at it. Why did you leave that world for a church job?

Thank you! I didn’t. Or actually, to be more accurate, I didn’t mean to. When I left high school all I ever wanted to be was a professional actor. After 12 or so years of hitting the pavement, I found myself living in Chicago doing exactly what I had wanted: working in great theaters, doing great shows, a little TV, and paying my bills through acting. It was then when I began to feel this overwhelming sense that I should take some time off from acting and work on some personal growth stuff.

A friend turned me onto The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology (formerly known as Mars Hill Graduate School) and I felt led to enroll in their Christian Studies program. Left field, right? Still, I went non-vocationally. I wasn’t interested in working in a church, I merely was taking a sabbatical from acting, fully intending to start back up when I was finished. I went to pursue personal growth, heal, and explore this intersection of art and faith.

Again, I never intended to work at a church. Ever. When I was through with the program, Willow Creek Community Church (my home church while I was living in Chicago) called and asked if I’d be interested in making art inside the church. Another nudge from God and I found myself on staff. Over the course of the last three years I’ve gone from being a contract video producer to a creative director. I try and think of myself as an artist who creates inside the church instead of an artist who left the art world to work for the church.

2. What is a “creative process”? Is this a formal thing or just a description of what you go through to create something? What does your creative process look like?

I define the “creative process” in a myriad of ways. First it is a journey you choose to embark on. It is a combination of myopic jaunts toward goals related to specific projects and of a much longer Odessy of moving toward the human/artist you are meant to become. When related to a project, the creative process becomes a series of tasks, disciplines, and emotional and mental gymnastics that provide a structure for creating something we hope will be beautiful. It can also be a personal crucible which we “pass through” as we create.

My process usually begins in one of two ways: 1. Some music I’m listening to that inspires a story, or 2. A story I know I want to tell. From there I decide which medium the story should be told: short film, live performance, etc. After that it the process is one of adding constraints, editing, and removing everything but the essential pieces needed to tell the story.

3. What uncharted creative “frontiers” exist for you? Is there anything you dream of doing but haven’t had the chance yet?

I’m dreaming about a few things actually…a feature length film based on a short story I’ve been working on and a large-scale, site-specific performance art piece downtown Chicago.

4. What is your book Untitled about?

Near the beginning of the book I make the following claim: It is the artist’s job to accept that the work will be very, very hard; to understand the importance of deep reflection, and to fight the forces of fear and resistance, all in the name of filling blank pages and creating beauty. The book walks the reader through four movements about the work we must do, the importance of looking inward, the struggles we face when creating, and the beauty that can result if we persevere. It’s part instruction manual, part memoir, part collection of thoughts on the creative process curated from the last 15 years of making art in and out of the church.

You can pick up Blaine’s new book Untitled on Amazon