Hutchmoot Artist-in-Residence: Justin Gerard


One of my favorite storytellers doesn’t write books. He doesn’t write songs, either. But his stories quicken my imagination and teach me about beauty and light and the mind of God. He’s an artist and illustrator named Justin Gerard, and I’m pleased to let you know that he’s our official artist-in-residence for Hutchmoot 2011.

I discovered Justin Gerard years ago via his involvement with Portland Studios, an art studio in Greenville, South Carolina. He painted the cover of my 2005 album The Far Country, the cover painting for On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, and has illustrated two of the three Wingfeather Saga books. Yes, ladies and germs, that makes me a fan.

It’s not just that his pictures are amazing. It’s that they flip on a light switch deep in my heart, in the room where the ten-year-old boy inside me sleeps. Justin’s pictures yank back that kid’s covers and tell him to get outside and play. More than once, I’ve looked at a new painting or sketch on his blog and had my mind flooded with unwritten stories, stories about wise old monsters and epic battles fought astride giant saddled birds.

It takes a special gift to do more with a picture than illustrate a scene. You could be at the top of your game as an artist in terms of skill and craft, and you could inspire admiration—but it’s another kind of artist who can inspire wonder. It’s a true artist who can make you hungry for beauty the way a the chef in the kitchen can make you hungry for dinner.

Here’s what I mean: imagine a painting of a forest with gnarled, beautiful old trees and beams of light angling down through the leaves to puddle on the deep green grass. Can you see it? Now imagine the same picture, but with a worn footpath winding from the foreground and into the trees, around the fat trunks, to disappear in the distance, where you think you might see a clearing. It’s no longer just a picture of an ancient wood; now it’s a picture of an adventure. That’s what Justin does with his images. He invites you into what’s behind the picture. It’s what I mean when I say that he’s one of my favorite storytellers.

Next weekend at Hutchmoot, Justin and Russ Ramsey will be presenting a session called “Interview with a Dragon Maker”, and Justin will be working on a painting from Tolkien’s Silmarillion over the course of the weekend. We’re honored to have him. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll wake up your inner ten-year-old and peruse his website for a while. Then sit down and write.


Andrew Peterson is a singer-songwriter and author. Andrew has released more than ten records over the past twenty years, earning him a reputation for songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. As an author, Andrew’s books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga, released in collectible hardcover editions through Random House in 2020, and his creative memoir, Adorning the Dark, released in 2019 through B&H Publishing.


  1. ljjasper

    As if I wasn’t already lamenting my absence from Hutchmoot 2011, you go and pull a “Justin” on me! Know it will be a rich time for all…. and maybe someday I can meet MY favorite storyteller/artist too.

  2. PaulH

    I have made it a purpose to pull out my sketchbook and utensils at least once a day this summer. I love illustrations and drawing and have all my life. I just let myself “grow up” and lose sight of the extrodinary fun that it is.

    This gentleman’s art is true inspiration to me.

  3. Loren

    I’ve loved that painting on the cover of The Far Country; I didn’t realize it was the same artist as the Wingfeather books. Very cool! Beautiful work, and as you said, the kind that makes your brain wake up and seek more.

  4. Jen

    Wow. Amazing work…. I had no idea he painted The Far Country’s cover either. Excited!

    My sister’s a visual artist too, and she’s coming to Hutchmoot with me. I know which session she’ll be geeking out over….. =)

  5. Eric S.

    Dang. I actually went as far as becoming is facebook friend after I figured out who did the album art for AP. That was several years ago. Glad to hear the connection lives on.

  6. Loren

    Wow, Dancing Jackalope, that Benjamin Harff work is incredible. I’ve always been fascinated by illuminated script and the whole process as to how they were/are done. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Peter B

    Dang. I didn’t think it was possible to yearn any more to be at Hutchmoot.

    Add me to the “didn’t know JG did TFC” camp. Outstanding.

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