Back in May of 2021, I was struck with the idea of conducting an interview series in which I would ask some friends of mine about how they connect their careers to their walks with Christ. I had hoped to start the series that month, but due to unforeseen hardships, my first interviewee had to drop out.
This series seeks to achieve two goals: 1) to share the stories and experiences of friends of mine and their walks with Christ as it connects to their careers; 2) to bring public attention to some really cool Christian small businesses/ Christian artists!
Here we are, several months later, and I am finally able to say that On Interviewing Christian Creatives has kicked off successfully, and today it is with great joy that I get to introduce another friend of mine into this ongoing conversation about what it means to connect our careers with our faith!
Back in December, we heard from Ethaniel Dueck of West African Rings N Tings about his small business which he uses as a ministry. Today, we'll be hearing from Malik Dieleman.
Grace: Do you mind quickly introducing yourself, and sharing a little bit about yourself?
Malik: My name is Malik Dieleman. I’m a missionary kid, born in France and later living in Canada and Senegal, West Africa. Upon graduating high school at Dakar Academy, I moved back to Canada to study Photography at Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD U). Today, I’m a freelance photographer, videographer, and multi-disciplinary artist based in Toronto.
Grace: Now that we know a little bit about you, do you care to share your testimony/ how you came to know the Lord?
Malik: Being raised in a Christian home, I gave my life to the Lord early on. But I would say it wasn’t until I got baptized in grade 9 that I began thinking of my faith as my own and not my family’s. While at OCAD U, my faith was challenged but also strengthened as I experienced life outside of the ‘Christian’ bubble if you will, and had to make choices to continue following Christ. My involvement in student campus ministries and my church was important in my faith journey.
Grace: The whole goal of this series is to shine a spotlight on local and international small businesses that somehow have a connection to the Christian faith. Now that you have shared a little bit about your relationship with Jesus, do you mind talking about how it connects to your small business/ career?
Malik: I believe that as a follower of Christ, all aspects of my life have a connection to my faith. As I dig deeper into my Christian faith, I’m finding there is less of a secular/sacred divide. God is present with me when I worship Him and attend Bible studies, but also when I buy groceries and talk with a friend. So, I see my work in art, photography, and videography as ways I can live out my faith as I do with any other area of life. The themes I explore in my artwork, the way I communicate with those I’m taking portraits of, the impact a video I make can have in someone… these are all opportunities for me to reflect an aspect of the Gospel. I believe God has gifted me with a desire to create- to make beautiful things, which, ultimately, point back to the Creator.
There is a mysterious relationship between art and faith, which I have enjoyed exploring over the years. In 2021, I helped put together a virtual showcase of art pieces reflecting on the theme of Displacement and Belonging as it relates to faith [https://displacementandbelonging.cargo.site]. The piece I created for this showcase was inspired by a moment of prayer in which I felt the intimate presence of God comforting me.
Grace: Anything else my readers should know about your small business/ career?
Malik: My practice is quite varied at the moment, but I have to say that environmental portraits (on-location portraiture) are definitely my favorite. I absolutely love the play between capturing both a subject and their surroundings in one image that I love. My final project at OCAD U was all about this. You can find it, and more of my work, at malikdieleman.com or on my Instagram @malikdieleman_artist.
Grace: What words of wisdom would you give to other believers who may be doubting their ability to successfully launch a small business/ career that has deep roots in their faith?
Malik: My first piece of advice would be to go and make art that you are excited about. Try not to mold all of your artwork into something you think your audience/clients/family wants to see. Make it yours. And don’t stop making. Remember that not all the work you make needs to be sold or even seen by anyone. Maintaining a creative practice outside of your business will really help with this.
Another piece of advice would be to pay attention to those moments of inspiration- write down your ideas as soon as you get them. A friend once pointed out that the word ‘inspiration’ has the same root word as ‘spirit’. I don’t believe that is a coincidence- the Holy Spirit certainly gives us many of our creative ideas.
If you are in the Toronto area, go check Malik's work out! He is unbelievably talented, and his passion to create is so encouraging and inspiring.
Stay tuned! Journey of A Lifetime blog has a pretty stacked lineup for the rest of this series!