Verses Art: putting Scripture on our walls

Why Nathan Johnson fuses his art and faith

Nathan Johnson, founder of Verses Art and Blacklist Studio, is passionate about bringing the word of God into people’s homes through aesthetic Scripture artwork. Johnson spoke with Eternity about the inspiration for Verses Art, his vision for the future, and the meaningful Scriptures that have touched his life.

“I have often wondered why, as believers, we don’t hang Scripture on our walls.” – Nathan Johnson

Christians read and rely on the Bible for daily guidance, comfort and wisdom, but few adorn their walls with these enduring words. With a desire to fill this gap, Johnson set out to create modern and timeless artworks that feature verses that encourage and inspire believers. “As an artist, working for the past 15 or more years, all the work I created would be on people’s walls, in their homes. As a Christian, I have often wondered why, as believers, we don’t hang Scripture on our walls,” he says.

Blacklist Studio art

Blacklist Studio, which Johnson founded over 15 years ago, has become a household name in Australia’s creative industry. His distinctive hand-lettering style has led to collaborations between Johnson and leading design and lifestyle brands such as The Beach People, Status Anxiety and Off-White. Johnson’s work has been featured in magazines such as Elle and Real Living as well in advertising campaigns for iconic Australian brands. In recent years Johnson has been producing abstract artwork for homes and businesses.

Blacklist Studio art

Blacklist Studio art by Nathan Johnson

“We have three kids. Our oldest one is now a teenager. We are coming into those years where it’s just so important to have scripture around the house.”

The seed of Verses Art had been in his heart for over a decade, but it wasn’t until he and his wife, Jaynie, began looking for Scripture artwork to hang on the walls of their home that they fully realised the need. “We have three kids. Our oldest one is now a teenager. We’re coming into those years where it’s just so important to have Scripture around the house,” says Johnson. When they couldn’t find any artworks they loved online or in stores, Johnson decided to create an aesthetically pleasing work of art using the word of God in a way that was both modern and timeless.

A personal need to display visual reminders of God’s truth, love and goodness became the catalyst for launching the Verses Art brand and online shop. “We saw a huge need to get Scripture into people’s houses onto people’s walls,” he explains.

“As Christians, you often have a go-to verse or for our family, we have a couple of verses that we feel really sum up where we’re going and who we are us as a family.”

Scripture artwork There is something deeply personal and powerful about how a believer experiences and engages with the Bible. Many Christians have one or two Scriptures that are memorial stones in their lives. Johnson reflects on how when Christians read and interact with Bible they often come back to these pivotal Scriptures time and again throughout their lives. “As Christians, you often have a go-to verse for your family; we have a couple of verses that we feel sum up where we’re going and who we are as a family.”

A Scripture can provide something to hold on to when a believer weathers the storms of life. A single verse can remind us powerfully of the promises of God, his kindness and providence. “We have always wanted to remind ourselves and our children of the promises we have the joy of standing on,” says Johnson. As an artist, he wanted to ensure that he represented the beauty of the promises found throughout the Bible in a meaningful and creative way.

“Surely your goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6.

One of the most meaningful Scriptures for Johnson and his family is Psalm 23:6, which they hang on a wall in their home. This verse is a daily encouragement to the family, reminding them of God’s goodness and peace amid a busy life.

As an artist and a Christian, Johnson has always sought ways to bring his art and faith together. “While a lot of commercial art and design can have elements of faith, this is one way that I wanted to be very upfront with my faith,” says Johnson.

The Verses Art range has dozens of Scriptures in six or seven design options, but Johnson has a big vision for the project’s future. “We want to turn every beautiful piece of Scripture into an artwork. That’s a huge task, but I think that’s exciting. It’s a never-ending project for us that we can just continually create and create, which is what we love to do,” says Johnson.

“We want to turn every beautiful piece of Scripture into an artwork.”

cripture wall artJohnson designs these Scripture artworks to fit comfortably into any living space, from simple, monochromatic options to bright, dramatic statement pieces and even more youthful pieces for a teenager’s room. He speaks of his work with a deep sense of mission and says he hasn’t seen anyone else creating Scripture artworks for homes.

“It was a very personal revelation to do this project. It felt like there was a strong calling to do it. I don’t say that about anything else, but it was a very personal kind of drawing towards it – a feeling like, you really need to do this,” he says

“In my early career years, my art and design and my faith felt separate. It took me a while to work out that they are intrinsically linked … Creativity and faith cannot exist without each other because God is the most creative being in existence.”

“As an artist having worked with words and phrases over my career, the words from the Bible are more powerful than anything I’ve worked with before.”



Verses Art

Through its social media, @versesart_reaches out to its large audience to gauge which Scriptures are most meaningful. They also have a submission form on the Verses Art website, where anyone can ‘submit a verse.’ Johnson works through the extensive submissions which allows him to be a part of other people’s personal experiences with the word of God.

“We want people to tell us ‘what’s the Scripture that you cannot live without’, ‘what’s that one Scripture that’s carried you through times of anxiety or despair or even joyful times,’” he says.

The prayer at Verses Art is that these Scripture artworks serve as daily reminders to people of the goodness, trustworthiness, beauty and love of the living God.