By Design Ministries International (BDMI) was founded in 2007 by Jon Melin. Jon is a pastor, expository Bible teacher, chalk artist and international teacher trainer. BDMI is primarily a teacher training ministry committed to chronological Bible storytelling.
God blessed Jon with an unusual ability to visualize Scripture. While conducting teacher training in Estonia in July of 2004, Jon was deeply impressed in his spirit to create a visual aid for chronological Bible story telling. The goal was to create realistic lifelike images for a high quality product that would be affordable anywhere in the world. By Design Visuals LLC was launched in 2010 as the sales and distribution arm of BDMI to make that vision a reality.
When completed the By Design Visuals Series will give teachers, parents, and children a resource to tell over 250 interactive Bible stories. The By Design Flannelgraph Series reintroduces traditional flannelgraph to a new generation. Because all the biblical figures and backgrounds were hand-drawn digital images they were easily adapted to create the By Design Digital Flannelgraph Series. The digital flannelgraph can be used on almost any digital platform (laptops, tablets,smart phones, etc.). The Digital Flannelgraph Series is also the perfect training tool for the traditional flannelgraph. The digital flannelgraph contains all the story scenes in a wide screen 16:9 HD format, but also includes the story scripts, introductions and icons embedded within the text for advancing the slides. The digital visuals come in both PDF and PowerPoint formats.
Meet the Artist
All of the artwork contained in the By Design Visuals Series was created by free-lance artist Ron Ferris of Chicago, Illinois. Ron is the second of illustrator Paul Ferris’ three sons. Although all the boys were healthy and strong, Ron was born deaf. His father says that even as a child Ron would sit and draw with wonderful accuracy and detail.“One day my wife and I observed him sitting in his wagon on the front sidewalk turning a small branch over and over in his hand. When he came in, he went directly to the table and started drawing a very well-proportioned tree.”
Art remained the focus of his schooling through High School and his expertise eventually earned him a scholarship to the Chicago Academy of Art. Although he worked for a time with a family friend for ServiceMaster, it did not take long before God’s true calling resurfaced and he joined his father at an advertising art studio in downtown Chicago where they worked together for many years.
In 2005 God laid a vision upon the heart of Jon Melin, president of By Design Ministries Int’l to create a visual aid specifically for chronological Bible story telling. Jon says he asked God to confirm His direction by leading him to an artist of His choosing through prayer alone.
A few months later Jon was introduced to Ron’s work through a relative he met while doing teacher training in northern Mexico. Ron has been producing artwork for BDMI since the fall of 2006.
The artwork of Ron Ferris features a unique combination of life like figures, overlays, and backgrounds that are hand drawn and colored using computer interfaced software. The resulting digital imagines allow By Design Visuals to take advantage of the latest in print, press, and cutting technology while still retaining their hand drawn look.
By Design Visuals conducts flannelgraph and storytelling workshops around the world. BDMI also partners with The God’s Story Project (TGSP) and the Simply the Story (STS) workshops. God’s Story is an 80 minutes audio/visual overview of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. God’s Story is available in over 350 languages. Simply the Story (STS) workshops teach participants how to experience and then share Scripture through discussion. It has also been called inductive Bible story ‘oral style.’