Graphic Design

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Graphic Design applies various forms to convey a visual and verbal message. Designers use typography, symbols, illustrations, photography, or combinations of these to reach an audience, trying for solutions that communicate well and are also direct and inexpensive. Graphic design, a term coined in 1922, became a self-conscious discipline in the mid-20th century when it was first taught in art schools.

Mennonite Press (North Newton, Kansas, USA) and Mennonite Central Committee in the early 1950s were among the first Mennonite agencies to apply the problem-solving skills of designers to publications and other visual forms. Mennonite Publishing House and Herald Press (Scottdale, Pennsylvania, USA) and Faith and Life Press (Newton, Kansas, USA) followed. This partial survey of the work of a number of graphic designers illustrates the value their special gifts have added to the life of the church.


In 1958, Kenneth Hiebert, an early designer for Mennonite Press, entered the graphic design class of Basel's Allgemeine Gewerbeschule. He later received the Swiss National Diploma in Design. On assignment from Mennonite Central Committee and Mennonite Publishing House (Herald Press), he was designer for Agape Verlag, a European Mennonite publisher, 1954-59. In 1964, he produced the Mennonite exhibit for the Protestant Pavilion at the New York World's Fair. For Mennonite Central Committee he developed the dove and cross symbol adopted in the late 1960s, and designed annual reports and the More-with-Less books. For Fortress Press, he designed the Hermeneia Commentary Series which won an award from the American Institute of Graphic arts in 1971. He joined the staff of the Philadelphia College of Art as chairman of its graphic design department in 1966 and was named professor in 1973. His work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, and Gewerbemuseum-Basel and has also been noted in a major text (Meggs, p. 490).

The first graphic design course to be taught in a Mennonite school was introduced by Robert W. Regier in 1976 at Bethel College (Kansas, USA) to provide skills for visual communication such as typography, layout, illustration, trademarks, and preparing of art for printing. He studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and received his fine arts degree from the U. of Illinois. Chair of the Bethel College art department beginning in 1965, Regier was staff designer for Mennonite Press, 1950-52, and for Mennonite Central Committee, 1953-55. He was art director for the General Conference Mennonite Church, 1957-63, where he developed the cross and orb symbol for the General Conference. After 1984, he became responsible for exhibition design at Kauffman Museum, North Newton, KS.


Glenn Fretz, Toronto and Waterloo (Ontario, Canada), from his own studio, offered specialties in signage, identity programs, corporate annual reports, and computer graphics. In 1978 he designed books, exhibits, signs, and symbols for the Mennonite World Conference, Wichita. He has developed symbols for the 1984 Strasbourg and 1990 Winnipeg Mennonite World Conference assemblies and many other agencies including Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries; Mennonite Board of Missions (MC); Mennonite Bicentennial Commission (Canada); SELFHELP Crafts; Mennonite Savings and Credit Union (Ontario); Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, Kitchener, ON; and the Believers Church Bible Commentary series. He developed exhibits and interior design for the Meetingplace, St. Jacobs, ON.

Gerald Loewen, Winnipeg, did graphic design for Canadian Mennonite Bible College and the Conference of Mennonites in Canada. He has worked on design projects for Mennonite Central Committee Canada, Mennonite Economic Development Associates, Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society, Mennonite Media Society, and Canada-wide Food Bank. He taught graphics arts at Canadian Mennonite Bible College and graphic arts photography at Red River Community College.

Joseph Alderfer, formerly design director for Mennonite Publishing House, joined the U. of Chicago Press in 1967 to become manager of design with major involvement in books. In 1985, he designed a leaded glass window for the chapel at Philhaven Hospital, Mt. Gretna, PA. He also designed Sent, a Mennonite Board of Missions (MC) magazine. His work has been recognized by the Society of Typographic Arts, the Chicago Book Clinic, the New York Art Director's Club, and the American Institute of Graphic Arts and has been published in Graphis and Communications Arts.

John M. Hiebert served as chief designer for Mennonite Press after 1954. Besides designing most of the books published by Faith and Life Press and other publications produced by the printery, he also designed for Faith and Life Church Bulletin Service and, after 1963, art director for The Mennonite, which has been cited by the Associated Church Press for its visual quality.

Ann Graber Miller taught graphic design at Goshen College, 1986-88, and served as college designer. in her work for Mennonite Publishing House (Herald Press), 1982-85, her design for The God of Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel by Barbara Keener Shenk received honorable mention from the Printing Industry of Western Pennsylvania.

Judith Rempel Smucker, designer for Mennonite Central Committee, 1979-85, was trained at U. of Manitoba, Bethel College, and Basel's Allgemeine Gewerbeschule. Her record jacket design for I Can Make Peace (Mennonite Central Committee, 1983) received special notice. She prepared the logo for the Lion and the Lamb Peace Arts Center, Bluffton College.

Christine Siemens Lautt, who served as designer for Mennonite Central Committee, 1973-1975, has designed publications for Southwestern College (Kansas, USA), Bethel College, and for the General Conference Mennonite Church's Call to Kingdom Commitments Scott Jost, Bethel College 1985, served as graphic artist for the Mennonite Central Committee, 1985-87, and for Bethel College.


Meggs, Philip B. A History of Graphic Design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1983.

Author(s) Maynard Shelly
Date Published 1989

Cite This Article

MLA style

Shelly, Maynard. "Graphic Design." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1989. Web. 12 Jul 2020.

APA style

Shelly, Maynard. (1989). Graphic Design. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 12 July 2020, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 353-354. All rights reserved.

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