Member Spotlight: Inca Siojo, Digital Designer for the Archdiocese of Vancouver

By Dianne Towalski
The Catholic Journalist

How long have you been working in Catholic media and how did you get here?

I have been working for The B.C. Catholic for almost five years now.

I graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in interactive arts and technology from Simon Fraser University. Initially, my dream was to work towards the animation industry. However, God had other plans and placed it upon my heart to use the talents He had already given me in ministry. Around that time, I was also part of the Vancouver chapter of University Christian Outreach, which is an ecumenical group, so I was very open to working in Christian organizations that weren’t necessarily Catholic.

In January 2013, I began working as a junior graphic designer at Focus on the Family Canada, a non-profit Christian organization that provided resources for marriage, parenting, and family life. There was a very creative environment within the editorial and design team, which gave me a good foundation to hone my skills in layout, illustration, and working closely with writers and in-house clients. There I also found lifelong friendships with Christian brothers and sisters who inspired me in how they led their lives and had a heart for Jesus. Those deep friendships stirred a desire within me to give back and bring more life and joy to the Catholic Church in Vancouver.

On one walk with a close friend from work, I remember telling her in passing, “I would only leave Focus on the Family if I got a job at the Archdiocese of Vancouver, but I don’t think they need a designer.” Little did I know there would be a job posting for a digital designer position a month later, and the rest is history!

Tell us about your job.

My official job title in the communications office of the Archdiocese of Vancouver is digital designer. My role is split between graphic design for print pieces and web assets for our in-house clients, a little bit of social media, and graphic design and production coordination for our weekly newspaper, The B.C. Catholic.

Every week, I receive a layout file from the editor, design some advertisement requests and make sure all the ads that were booked are in the main InDesign file. The main task involves placing the articles and columns within the newspaper grid, making sure that there is a good balance between text and photos, and that the layout “does justice” to the story. Other tasks involve photo searching and editing, creating special layouts for feature stories or a package of stories surrounding a theme, and archiving each edition. Occasionally, our assistant editor would give me a list of feature stories down the pipe if I’m able to start percolating some layout or illustration ideas ahead of time.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I find inspiration in many places (even a bookstore has a lot of eye-candy for me!), but I would say the main sources are relationships, stories, and nature. Relationships and stories show the nuances of different dynamics, how people and events are connected, and the hard and beautiful things in life. Nature has always been an inspiration as it is God’s handiwork and I do see God as THE creator, and the best artist, really. I hope what I do create reflects who He is and provides glimpses of His beautiful creation.

You do graphic design, but you are also an artist in other mediums, tell us about that work.

Yes, I do draw and paint using traditional mediums in my spare time, which is something I’ve thoroughly enjoyed even as a kid. It’s an avenue for me to play and express myself in ways that are not as easy or natural to do using digital mediums. 

There is joy and freedom to be found in creating art not for the sake of productivity, but to simply create. I think making art using traditional mediums involves courage, vulnerability, and a certain degree of letting go of the outcome.

What is Project Luce? Tell us about it and your interest in mental health advocacy.

Project Luce is a series of 10 paintings that I launched in April 2021. The Italian word luce means light, and the project was inspired by a line from the Prayer of St. Francis, “Where there is darkness, let me bring light.” Each painting is inspired from a Bible passage that has helped me in my own rough seasons. They were all sold with 100% of the proceeds going to Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries. 

In the summer of 2020, God put it upon my heart to start a project for those who are going through the same storm I found myself in a few years ago. Back in 2016, I started experiencing anxiety, which could easily turn into depression if it gets too much to handle.

At the beginning of this journey, I found myself in a dark and fear-filled place with no path forward. Most mental health stories I heard were the difficult ones that didn’t echo a message of hope. Because of that, I had to work through the stigma I placed upon myself and what this cross meant for me. It brought me to a major crisis in my faith. I was angry at God for allowing this particular suffering into my life.

However, in the midst of it all, God’s steadfast love and mercy kept coming through. He showed His constant presence through my family, friends, and community, and the therapists and doctors I’ve worked with. He comforted me through the talents He himself gave me (creating art, singing, and cooking are very helpful!), and through the people I’ve met who have dealt with similar storms and brought light into the darkness that I felt.

The strength of those who shared their stories has inspired me to carry on. I still have to manage my difficult days and seasons, but I know I’m doing much better now.

I’m not the first person to live with anxiety and depression, and I won’t be the last. This is why Project Luce came to be - to bring hope to those who feel hopeless. I chose Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries as the recipient because of their mission to equip the Church to support mental health and wellbeing. I hope to share the light I have been given to the next person who needs it.

“Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” - 2 Corinthians 1:7

Why do you think Catholic media is important?

I believe Catholic media is important because it serves as a reminder that while the interior life and one’s own personal relationship with Jesus are key to living out the faith, our faith was never meant to stay within the walls of our churches. Catholic media helps us think critically about what’s going on in our world and within our churches, and to ponder if the way we live out our faith is or isn’t aligned to the teachings of Christ.

This article originally appeared in the May 2022 edition of The Catholic Journalist.