AS: You are a songwriter/musician and tattoo artist by trade. Tell us more about Brian Hall.
BH: Well, I was born and raised in Dallas, TX, but now live with my beautiful wife in Chattanooga, TN. We serve at a church here called Abba’s House that we love very much. I spend most of my time writing music amongst other art projects.
AS: Who are your favorite artists (musically and elsewhere)?
BH: Such a loaded question. If I had to choose it would probably be a tie between Muse and Civil Twilight on the music side. Then tattoo wise I would have to say Nikko Hurtado and Big Meas.
AS: How do you encounter God most fully?
BH: It would have to be when I am part of creating a worship atmosphere of any caliber. Whatever I get to do whether its leading or playing or just setting up. Every aspect of creating a meeting place for God and broken people makes me feel fully alive and closest to Him.
AS: How do you integrate the creative side of you with the spiritual side? Are they one and the same?
BH: I don’t believe they can be separated. It’s interesting to me that when God created the Heavens and the earth, He spoke. When he formed Adam, he wrote. And when he brought him to life, He breathed. These are all things we do every day. I believe in the same way, we also create every time we speak, write and breathe.
AS: What is your creative process – when you sit down to write or draw?
BH: Most everything happens completely in my mind. Before I pick up a pencil or an instrument, I have already formulated most of what the design or song is going to be as far as the structure. But then once I put down the base of what I had in mind, that’s when the Holy Spirit really takes over and goes wild. This is why a lot of times I can be really in my head because there can tend to be a lot going on in there lol.
AS: What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses, either of you or creatives in general?
BH: To me, in the area of weaknesses, it all comes back to one great example. Lucifer. He was the original “created creative.” As creatives, we can admit to noticing most of the same tendencies in us that caused him to fall…jealousy, pride and the overwhelming sense of competition with anything greater than us. But when you are a creative that celebrates other people’s victories, you create through humility, and you honor those who went before you, you are truly unstoppable. That’s the key to unlocking the fullest extent of what is inside of you.
AS: Where do you feel the most in line with who you’re created to be?
BH: That would have to be when I am leading worship. The privilege of getting to lead God’s people in worship back to Him for all that He is has to be why I am alive. Many of the songs I write and record come from those moments when you get to stand in the middle of the people of God pulling Heaven down to earth and Heaven pulling earth up to Heaven. There is nothing like it.
A major part of what I feel Shelby and I have been called to do in the church is to combat the religious spirit. Whenever a religious spirit decides to attack any kind of people group, the only answer that conquers all is Love. It’s not us pulling our swords out and fighting each other with them.
One story I will never forget…I was right on the edge of quitting on God’s calling for my life. I never came close to quitting on God himself, just on the church. I led worship on a Sunday and had packed up my guitar and was headed for the door, and this sweet older lady stopped me. She grabbed me by my collar with both hands, looked me right in the eye and said, “don’t you ever quit doing what you are doing because every time you get up there and lead us in worship, I see my son back in the house of God worshiping, and it gives me the hope I need to keep believing for him. Don’t you ever quit because there are mothers that need to see you up there.” I knew from that moment I was a worshipper for life.
AS: Gotta ask the tattoo question. Tattoo has historically been taboo in the Christian world for a really long time – what are your thoughts around this whole thought process?
BH: First I like to look at the verse that formulated that thought in the church to begin with. Leviticus 19:28 says “you shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord.” In the day this was written, it was a practice of pagan worship that when people died they would cut themselves and tattoo themselves in mourning. The tattoo portion of this scripture is a continuation of the command not to do these things in mourning for the dead.
I am so glad that I got to start tattooing in the point in time that I did (2004) because I got to watch the transformation of thought in the church on this issue. My clientele went from being bikers and crazy people like myself to pastors and church people in a matter of just a few years. The truth is that this body is something that we will all leave behind. Don’t use it for any pagan worship (as the verse stated) but getting a permanent reminder on your body not only works to keep Him and His words ever present before you, but also many times creates opportunities to share your faith and story behind your ink with curious bystanders.
And if people still want to argue I just tell them that Isaiah 49:16 God has us engraved on the palms of His hands and in Revelation 19:16 Jesus has a thigh tattoo. At that point, their heads explode and they don’t really want to talk to me anymore, but I love them anyway.
AS: Is tattooing a holy act for you?
BH: It absolutely is. Not only is it humbling that God would allow me to make art that is something people take with them to the grave, but the fact that I believe everybody was hand-crafted by Him feels almost like a collaboration with His creation and His creative nature working through me.
AS: Any current projects you’re working on?
BH: I am currently teaching a great group of young people in my church monthly classes on prophetic songwriting and we have finished and recorded our first song! So excited to see all that God is going to do through my Gen1’s, as I call them.
AS: Advice to fellow creatives?
BH: Just create. Don’t plan, don’t scheme, don’t wiggle your way into anything. Be exactly who you are where you are. Don’t think that you have to be somewhere “where the magic is happening” in order to make your mark on this life. Be as true as you possibly can right where you are, and God will do the rest in a beautiful way that you could have never done yourself.
AS: Do you have any music projects you’d like to share with us?
BH: I released an album in April called Breath of Heaven. I can honestly say that it is as honest as I have ever been able to be through a project. I call that album the soundtrack to the process of sanctification.
AS: How can we follow you and your work?