Welcome to SPOTLIGHT! Each Tuesday I’ll be posting a quick interview with an awesome person you need to know. This week, my buddy Joel Davis kindly gave his time to answer some questions.


1. For those who don’t know, can you tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?

I’m a 26-year-old nomad currently living (and potentially setting down roots) in Roanoke, VA. I work an office job to pay the bills, but outside of that I’m helping to start an intentional Christian community for young adults in the Old Southwest neighborhood just outside of downtown. As a creative, I’m working on building my design portfolio (computer graphics, logos, and websites, as well as physical media such as wood and concrete). I’m also a writer.

2. Why do you do what you do?

(Thought this said: What do you want to do?)

Build a tiny house (grin). I’d love to form a network that uses the arts and creativity to inspire a better world. Maybe that’s getting a bunch of creatives and entrepreneurs and techies and farmers and teachers to come together to make a tiny house community for the homeless, to give them shelter, job skills, and a better life as we serve the broader community and learn the value of human connection and relationships with each other. But perhaps that makes me sound too much like a hippie, haha. I’d at least like to start up a collaborative shop for people like me who need a creative outlet but maybe don’t have the time, skills, or know-how to start up something on their own, but they do have 2-3 things that they make really well that they would like to create a market for. Perhaps as part of that, we could have some kind of communal maker space, or a tool library, or something that gets us all codependent on each other. But again, that’s my hippie side coming out.

© 2017 Joel Davis

As for the actual question, why do I do what I do? I think part of what it means to be God’s image-bearers is that we have been given a spirit of creativity that we are called to use. I’m very drawn to community, and the way God reveals himself to us through other people. And I dunno, to me, those two ideas just intersect really naturally. (That’s a really heady answer, though. I also do it because my grandfather was a woodworker, and I learned a bit of it from him. But mostly, I really just like the way this stuff looks, and I like the feeling of being able to say “I made that.”)

3. What inspires you from day to day?

Compassion. Beauty. Acts of kindness. Generosity. Selflessness. To me, these are evidence of the kingdom of heaven breaking through the skin of our world. It inspires me to help tear down the wall, so to speak. Jesus always said the kingdom of heaven is already here, at hand, all around us; we just need some help to see it. I guess I’m inspired to use my creativity to come up with new ways of revealing it to people, or to ignite the creative spark in someone else.

4. Can you describe your process for us?

Yikes. There’s a process? Lol. For me, I get really caught up in the designing/planning stages of a project. I use SketchUp a LOT to help me visualize the project in 3D and start figuring out measurements. Then I take a couple of trips to the hardware store and wander aimlessly down the aisles, factoring prices and figuring out what could be creatively substituted for what to keep costs down, then I get frustrated/overwhelmed and leave empty-handed to go buy froyo, and then end up remembering about that random recycled bit of <insert garbage/yard sale/roadside find here> that I have sitting in the basement that would be *perfect* for this project, which reinspires me to go back to the store to pick up the remaining supplies that I need. The actual creating part, to me, is kind of an afterthought. It’s just a matter of trusting the design, solving the *inevitable* problems, being spontaneous when the need arises, and playing a bunch of really loud music.

© 2017 Joel Davis

5. How has that process changed over the years?

I think it’s been pretty consistent. (As you can tell, it’s not exactly polished or finalized.) I’d like to get to the point where I really understand the craft, where I can use hand tools over power tools, and do joists and dovetails and all that crap. To me, I’m not overly concerned about the process; I just need to go out and DO. I’m not super dependent on routine (and in fact, routine can almost kill creativity for me), so having a certain step-by-step isn’t something that’s ever really been helpful for me in this arena. (That being said, without a certain process, it can be really hard to get off your butt and do something, so maybe I should develop some kind of “getting started” routine. Got any tips?)

My process for computer work: save. A lot. And make copies of everything. A single logo probably goes through about a hundred different iterations, and I keep them all, because they may serve as a springboard for another project.

6. Where can people go to find more about you?

I’ve got a blog. I’ve got an Insta. And here’s a link to a website I just designed for a new local business run by some really cool people: (If you’re ever in Roanoke, check them out!)

About Alan V. Nelson

Alan V. Nelson is a writer living in North Carolina. Through the use of fiction and non-fiction, his mission is to encourage hope and healing in others. When he isn't writing, reading, taking pictures, or on a long walk, he can be found enjoying good chai and conversation at a local coffee shop. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram @alanvnelson

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