Christian Retailing

Meet the Artist: Third Day Print Email
Written by Production   
Monday, 13 September 2010 11:59 AM America/New_York

thirdday_move_pressimageGRAMMY- and GMA Dove Award-winning band Third Day sees the release of Move (Essential Records/Provident Label Group/Provident-Integrity Distribution) on Oct. 19. Frontman Mac Powell, bass player Tai Anderson, drummer David Carr and guitarist Mark Lee talked with Christian Retailing about the latest recording.

Meet the Artist: Jars of Clay Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Thursday, 09 September 2010 01:43 PM America/New_York

Jars of Clay Presents The Shelter--releasing Oct. 5--is the best-selling band's 11th studio project. Rhythm guitarist Matt Odmark (right in group photo) talks about the project on behalf of the band, whose other members are lead singer Dan Haseltine, pianist Charlie Lowell and lead guitarist Stephen Mason.

To which of your past albums would you compare the new release?

Probably the best comparison for The Shelter to any of our past projects would be The Redemption Songs, as these are really the only two projects Jars of Clay has ever produced where we are having a direct conversation with the church primarily. Most of our music and our art are aimed at a more general conversation, people that find that they have a faith or people that don't, or people that are just interested in music that explores the deeper issues of life and touches on those places that are universal and that are uniquely human, so that's kind of in general what most of our career has been about.

Meet the Artist: Sergio Cariello Print Email
Written by Production   
Wednesday, 18 August 2010 10:15 AM America/New_York

Cariello_Sergio_MeetTheArtistA former Marvel and DC Comics artist, Brazilian-born Sergio Cariello is the illustrator of The Action Bible, an updating of the David C. Cook’s successful Picture Bible, releasing this month.


How does your faith inform your art?

Because my parents brought me up taking me to church and Sunday school, I learned about the Bible at a very young age. Even as I kept drawing and getting published, I had a strong desire to know God better, so I went to a Bible school to study God’s Word full time at age 16. But I never stopped drawing and I dreamed of one day combining the truths of the Word with my ability to draw.


How did your career develop?

After I finished further Bible training in New York, I applied to an art school there and was accepted. I became a janitor in a church 40 miles away in order to attend (art school). Later I entered the business as a letterer for Marvel. Soon I was fulfilling my dream of drawing comics for a living, working at home.


What was your greatest professional achievement prior to this Bible?

I was fortunate to be able to draw Spider-Man, Avengers, Batman, Wonder Woman and many iconic characters in comics, but one character who got me an Eisner (Award) nomination for best new series in 2007 was The Lone Ranger.


How do your illustrations differ from the original in The Picture Bible?

I have a great respect for the original work done by (André) Le Blanc. Mine differ in style, just by being a different artist with (my) own personal tastes. Maybe also in the dynamics introduced, where I tried to jazz it up and modernize it, adding more impact and action to it, hopefully implementing what I’ve learned in my career as an artist for so many different genres.


What is it like to draw Jesus?

It’s a great thrill combined with a great weight of responsibility. I imagine Jesus not as portrayed in most history books, with very delicate, angelic gestures, but someone strong, well built, ready to walk a few miles on foot and work hard as a carpenter, always ready for the task ahead of Him—even the one that took his life for three days.



Which was the hardest Bible story to illustrate and why?

The battle scenes were the hardest ones because of all those people I had to draw (laugh).


Don’t cartoons trivialize the Word of God?

Only if the ones behind the production don’t have the respect and the seriousness of the content. No matter if the style is cartoony or different from one someone might be used to seeing, the key is the motivation behind it.

Meet the Artist: Anita Renfroe Print Email
Written by Production   
Friday, 11 June 2010 02:37 PM America/New_York

With what she calls "estrogen-flavored" comedy, Anita Renfroe has made a name for herself, from her take-off of the "William Tell Overture" to appearances on ABC's Good Morning America to her best-selling DVDs and books. This month she has another DVD—Big Ol' Sweet Iced Tea—releasing from her label, Blue Bonnet Hills, and Word Distribution.


Where does the title to your new DVD come from?

"We saw on a restaurant down in South Florida that had this big door on it that had sweet iced tea, which is one of our favorite things as Southerners. ... So we came home from that trip to Florida and I found an old door at a salvage shop and I tried to recreate that door from down there. ... So we were trying to think of a title for the DVD and we were thinking, well, what's really important to our family, and of course, our core value is sweet tea. So we went and took a picture with the door that I painted 10 years ago."


So it was filmed in a historic theater?

"Yes, it was right outside of Marietta, Ga., in a really tiny town called Acworth—it's a suburb of a suburb. I love to tape, when I do my DVD projects, in the Atlanta area because quite frankly I just love to sleep in my own bed the night before."


What do your fans have to look forward to on this DVD?

"Lots of new comedy. ... Quite frankly, it's all from my life. The great thing about real life and your comedy coming from real life is that there's constantly a wealth of new material. ... So this time there's stuff about secrets of Miss America, I watched a documentary on that and it was so hilarious. ... I'm a grandmother, so there is stuff on there about that. A couple new parodies that I think people are going to enjoy—we have a couple out there already going viral."


What does Beyoncé think of the parody of her song "Single Ladies"?

"I would hope she would think it's hilarious. No one can touch her in the dance moves, but you know, I'm Baptist and basically all the dance moves have been bred out of us genetically, so yeah, I hope she would just enjoy it for the comedy."


What inspires you?

"My kids are my No. 1 source of comedy. My husband is unintentionally funny. ... What tickles me is just life in general."


For an extended audio version of this interview, visit the specialty blogs at

Meet the Artist: Mike Nawrocki Print Email
Written by Production   
Friday, 11 June 2010 02:32 PM America/New_York

Nawrocki_MikeCo-creator of VeggieTales and now vice president of creative development for Big Idea, Mike Nawrocki oversaw the production of this month's release, Sweetpea Beauty—A Girl After God's Own Heart, the first-ever VeggieTales episode just for girls.


How did the idea of a girls-only episode come about?

When General Manager Leslie Ferrell, offered a woman's perspective and said, "Let's make a show about inner beauty." To be honest, it's not the first thing a development team of three guys would think of. But we embraced the challenge and, being fathers of daughters ourselves, created a couple of stories that we would love for our own daughters to watch.


What did you do differently to reach this niche audience?

We didn't really change much of what we usually do in that, with any story, you want to try to write from a place of experience and truth. You need to speak to your audience with the story you are telling—whatever the niche. As male writers, we needed to rely on the input and feedback of our wives, daughters and female co-workers.


Isn't the message of Sweetpea one that boys need to hear, too?

Absolutely. Boys are also under a tremendous amount of pressure in our culture to "look good." The message that God looks at the heart and not on our outward appearance is also important for boys. As Petunia says (in closing), "Anyone can learn a thing or two from a princess story, Larry."


Will there be other targeted episodes, and if so, on what kind of topics?

We're currently working on an episode where we are partnering with World Vision on a lesson in serving others.


How did Nichole Nordeman come to write a song for Sweetpea?

She has some huge fans at Big Idea. Because of how she has addressed the topic of true beauty in the past, both personally and professionally, we felt that her unique perspective as a singer-songwriter—in addition to her role as a mother of two small children and her love of VeggieTales—would be a great fit. We were so thrilled when she agreed to write a song for the show and were absolutely floored when we heard it. "Beautiful For Me" is a wonderful and moving song that captures the lesson of Sweetpea Beauty perfectly.


How is today's VeggieTales audience different from the one in your beginning in the early 1990s?

People are much more visually sophisticated than they were at the birth of 3-D computer animation. Twenty years ago if it was computer animated, it was cool. VeggieTales benefited from that early wave of enthusiasm. As I go back and watch the shows, I notice the stories and lessons hold up well, but they look very rudimentary. Visually, we've had to improve as the art form has improved, and our audience's expectations have grown.


Will there be another full-length VeggieTales movie?

We have a script for The Bob and Larry Movie, which tells the story of how Bob and Larry met, that we would love to make into a movie when the time is right.


For an extended audio version of this interview, visit the specialty blogs at

Meet the Artist: Andrew Peterson Print Email
Written by Christine D. Johnson   
Thursday, 10 June 2010 10:29 AM America/New_York

Centricity Records (EMI CMG Distribution) releases Andrew Peterson's latest album-Counting Stars-on July 27. Learn more about this singer-songwriter and what he's been up to since his last original release, Resurrection Letters, Volume II, in fall 2008.

How would you describe your career and your music thus far?
"It's funny, you would think by now I would have come up with a good answer for that, but I don't have a good answer for that. I call it ‘guy with a guitar' music sometimes. It's kind of folk music, but they are just songs. They are songs that tend to be about my life and the lives of those around me. Because I am a Christian, Jesus occupies the biggest part of that. On my best days I am always trying to write either a James Taylor song or a Rich Mullins song-and failing miserably."