David Habben: Religious Art


David Habben, known by his alter ego ‘Habbenink’, is a talented illustrator and creative mind based in Utah. Writer Igor Ovsyannykov explains Habben’s work. “David’s personal works of art are symbolic in nature and often address issues that all individuals confront as we strive to apply eternal gospel principles and maintain the spirit in our mortal lives. Some of his recent works tell the stories of the restoration through visual expressions which engage the viewer through compelling symbols, compositions, and contemporary media.”

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You once said, “I’m a member of a large, well-organized church, I still feel that my faith and testimony are unique to me.” How can art connect us and also individualize us? One of the lessons I learned through showing my work in a gallery setting is that everyone sees through their own unique lens. Our experiences shape us in such individual and powerful ways that I can’t expect a drawing to convey exactly what I intended it to and, honestly, I think that’s wonderful. Elder Wirthlin once said, “The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world.” That might be one of the most encouraging thoughts ever shared by an apostle. When I hear someone say, “I know the Church is true.” I appreciate it and accept it, but I also know that that phrase and belief will mean something different to me. It’s an important distinction because if we think all the testimonies are the same, we create a hierarchy of belief where we’re trying to achieve the same testimony as Brother Smith or Sister Johnson. In reality, we’re all coming to know Christ is our own way, through our own experiences and opportunities, “working out our own salvation,” so to speak.

You like to draw at church. What types of things do you draw? My church drawings are always in my sketchbooks, so they tend to be about anything and everything. I make it a point to not work on any existing projects on Sunday, so that provides me the opportunity to just relax and create. The quiet and reverent environment of Sunday School is a great place to still my otherwise beehive of a mind and just let the idea present itself. This has become a lot easier since our daughter starting going to nursery. There was about an 18 month gap between my Sunday sketches, but that was an easy sacrifice to make.

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Images courtesy David Habben and 15 Bytes.