In today’s Meet the Maker, we catch up with Beck Sexton from Wonderfully Made, an architect and designer with a passion for creating Christian wall decals and prints for children’s rooms and nurseries.
Hello! I’m originally from Loughborough and have recently returned to the mighty Midlands after six years in London. I went to Newcastle university for my undergrad, to study Architecture, and then after a second gap year I went to Westminster University to do my Masters in Architecture - it's a pretty long route to qualify as an architect so I think I spent a total of 7 years registered as a student in some form or another!
I now live in Nottingham with my husband, daughter and our new baby! I'm on maternity leave right now but normally I work as an architect for a London-based office that focuses on urban regeneration projects.
Spare time feels like a bit of a rarity but if I have a free evening, I love settling down to a film and my husband and I have recently taken up trying to teach ourselves ukulele - it's slow progress!
I designed my first decal shortly after our daughter was born when my husband and I were looking for something to decorate the soon-to-arrive bubba's bedroom - something inspired by one of the many promises in the Bible that, aesthetically, we would enjoy as well as the little one. But we couldn't find anything that quite fitted what we were looking for. So, I decided to design something myself and drew up my first wall decal which, as it turned out, everyone was pretty chuffed with!
I had an idea to use simple shapes and contrasting colours to create an abstract scene inspired by Isaiah 40, with the intention of both capturing our daughter's attention as she began to discern colour and pattern whilst appealing to our taste for contemporary, minimal design.
It occurred to me that other Christian parents might be looking to decorate their children's rooms in a similar way - I'm not saying my designs are the answer but that's how the desire to expand this personal project into a small business grew!
The abstract scenes of the great outdoors reference Bible verses that are intended to inspire confidence and joy in our children as they embark on the adventure of life in this wonderful but at times daunting world.
Stylistically, I take inspiration from whatever grabs my attention! Which could be the work of other illustrators, computer games, films (particularly animee), colour palettes from various places such as childrens' product designers or interior decorating features on Instagram - Instagram is of course a great source of inspiration!
For the scenes/compositions, I take inspiration from various places I've visited on past travels (having rather indulgently taken two gap years in my time) and for the verses that accompany them, there's no shortage of inspiration in the Bible! They tend to highlight either the amazing promises that God makes to His people, and therefore the wonderful assurances they give us, or the character and incomparable greatness of God.
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved."
First, I have an idea for a scene and an idea for how the characters will fit into that scene to create depth or perspective, which is how I hope to convey a sense of adventure or exploration. I draw a quick sketch by hand and then a very rough composition in Photoshop (with a lazy Nezumi plugin) using a Wacom tablet, which I then use as a base to compose the scenes in illustrator. Once the composition is there, I spend a lot of time adjusting colours and experimenting with palettes in the hope of achieving a result that is bright yet with a softness of tone.
Absolutely! Time management! As it's not my main job (yet) it can be difficult to invest the time required to make the progress that I would like to make - I have a very long to-do list of things to try to advance Wonderfully Made but not enough time to tick any of them off!
In terms of running your own business, I'm only just starting out so I think I need more tips than I can give!
But when it comes to working for someone else, I'd say just try to be as productive as you can during your working hours and resist the inevitable guilt that comes with having to leave on time for the nursery/school pick up, time off for your children being ill and maybe restrictions on your level of involvement in the office - remember this is just a season of time and the long term investment in your child(ren) is probably of greater worth than your role in the office.
Also that all our activities bring glory and honour to God when we go about them in His name!
Although I grew up in a loving, Christian household, it wasn't until I went to university that I really understood the implications of the gospel for my life. I had called myself a Christian with varying degrees of conviction until then and felt that starting university was an opportunity to look into the claims of Christianity for myself so that I could, on a basic level, either commit or not!
C. S. Lewis’ assertion that “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important”, really rang true to me. Though the path was not straightforward or without detours, what God showed me was the complete necessity of the cross, the amazing gift that is offered through Christ's death and the freedom, both from judgement and in a life with the Holy Spirit that He achieves.
We just moved to a new church in January 2018 (when we relocated to Nottingham) and the church itself has just celebrated its first birthday after planting from Cornerstone last year - it's exciting to be part of the growth of a young church full of enthusiastic people who are passionate about making Christ known in the community and encouraging each other in faith as we live life side by side.
We currently hire the local community hall on Sundays for our services but have just won a bid to buy the local town hall, which my husband and I prepared the architectural proposal for. Having a building of our own will provide huge opportunities for hosting activities that will help us serve those in need, to share the gospel and be a witness for Christ.
We meet with our small group every week to study the Bible together and it's a pleasure to develop fellowship with people so quickly, having recently uprooted! We're also involved with the evangelism team and I meet up with some on the women from the church on a regular basis to study the Bible.
10% of Wonderfully Made’s profit goes to Home for Good, a fantastic charity which exists to find a home for every child who needs one and to make sure that foster carers and adoptive families get the support they need. A key part of their work is advocacy and support within the Church. Home for Good raises awareness of the need for foster and adoptive parents, encourages families to provide loving homes for the children in care, and equips the Church to offer welcoming communities for them.
I'd love to be making enough sales to supplement my husband's salary sufficiently so that I can be self-employed full time, allowing more flexible working around family life.
On a more aspirational level, I'd love for my prints and decals to decorate homes throughout the UK, to bring delight to parents and children alike and to offer Christian parents Biblically-themed artwork that satisfies their design tastes.
As in right this second or bigger picture? If right this second, I'm actually pretty chuffed with where I'm at - enjoying a rare moment eating waffles in a gallery cafe listening to music and working on this questionnaire for Cheerfully Given! Bigger picture, I'd be travelling with my husband and child(ren) somewhere hot and mountainous.
There's lots of places I'd like to visit but my ideal combination would involve mountains, water and great food - Lake Como and Lake Garda are pretty high on my list!