As a teenager, John Hendrix used to get in trouble for doodling in class. Today, the 37-year-old St. Louis illustrator recognizes that his lifelong habit is a different way of paying attention—and luckily the pastors at Grace and Peace Fellowship don’t seem to mind that Hendrix brings his sketchbook to church every Sunday. The resulting ink drawings are like “improv comedy or jazz,” Hendrix says. On one occasion (above), the pastor’s words prompted Hendrix to riff on the idea of “joy”—rendered in large, backward text at the bottom of the page—and “sorrow,” symbolized by a despondent monster rising out of the murky sea.
Words are a common feature of Hendrix’s commercial projects, which supplement the text in books, magazines and newspapers. But the approach seems to work especially well in church, he says, with its rich offering of metaphors and stories. “It’s a lot to chew on.”