Senior art director for Tyndale House Publishers, Timothy Botts is best known for his creative calligraphy. His first book, Doorposts, has sold over 80,000 copies since its release in 1986. A second book, Windsongs, is a collection of hymn texts drawn in his distinctive calligraphy. A third book, Sunday Doorposts, is clip art usable for bulletin covers or newsletters. CT talked to Botts about his newest book, Messiah, which sets Handel’s famous oratorio in expressive word pictures.
What encouraged you to think about doing Messiah?
When Mark Taylor, president of Tyndale House Publishers, mentioned doing a Christmas gift book, I was a little negative, but I respected his wishes enough to think about it. At about the same time, I heard a portion of Messiah on the radio, and the two came together for me. If I was going to do a book for Christmas, I wanted to take people beyond Jesus in the manger, to tell the whole story. I realized this was the perfect opportunity, because Messiah starts from the Old Testament prophecy before Jesus comes, then takes us through his life, his death, his resurrection, and his future reign. It’s all there.
My first two books are more like collections, and I wanted in this book to create more wholeness. Since Messiah really is a collection of Scripture to tell the story of the gospel, I wanted to get that same progression visually.
The word behold is used five or six times throughout the text. That word became probably the most significant word as far as what I was trying to do—that people might really see the Messiah, might feel in a new way the word Behold! I like to think of my calligraphy as a kind of incarnation of the Word; I feel honored if I can make him known in a new way.1
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