CUW alum takes lead on design for 2019 National Youth Gathering

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2019 National Youth Gathering Design.
2019 National Youth Gathering Design.

A Concordia University Wisconsin alumnus has won the bid to design the 2019 LCMS National Youth Gathering.

James Saleska (’08) was selected to produce what promises to be a show-stopping visual experience for the tens of thousands of youth who will attend the summer event in Minneapolis.

Saleska, who will serve as lead graphic designer, has already begun producing materials centered around the upcoming Gathering’s theme: Real. Present. God. The theme is based on passages from Psalm 46.

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Youth Ministry Office announced the theme and Saleska’s design on Thursday, June 15 on the National Youth Gathering webpage.

Saleska describes the identity mark as a design treatment of the theme, ‘Real. Present. God.’

“I wanted to create something that felt strong to echo Psalm 46:1, ‘God is our refuge and strength,’” said Saleska. “The bold shapes and stenciled treatment emphasize fortitude and strength while the color pallet represents the exciting nature of the event.”

Saleska designed the colors to mimic a heat map, the hottest area centered around the cross in the “o” to reinforce the Gathering’s Christ-centered focus.

His former CUW roommate, Micah Rabe (’08), is also a major contributor to the media efforts put forth by the triannual event. In his work with Inspirmedia Productions, Rabe is no stranger to the NYG scene. Rabe has been producing video for the event since the 2007 Gathering and served as video team lead in 2016.

2019’s Gathering will be that first time Rabe and Saleska will get to work together both as leaders on the Gathering Team.

“It’s an honor to work on the Gathering Team, and both James and I take it very seriously,” said Rabe. “Because of our friendship, we have been able to talk many times about how we wanted the Gathering to look and feel, and now we get to work together throughout the creative process to make that happen.”

Rabe and Saleska credit their long-time friendship, initiated during their college days at CUW, for allowing them to work together honestly and openly.

“I’m never afraid to give James honest feedback, and I know the same is true for him,” said Rabe. “We can talk about what works and what doesn’t, and that allows us to do our best work.”

Although the youth ministry event is still two years away, Rabe and Saleska are excited that the work has already begun.

“Out of all the brands I have worked with, this project is at the top of my bucket list,” said Saleska. “Leading design for the Gathering allows me an opportunity to use my God-given talents in design and branding to help further His kingdom through an event that is so meaningful to so many people.”

Learn more about Concordia University Wisconsin’s graphic design program here.