Art Behind OPEN HEAVEN / River Wild

Sep 25 2015

It’s not always easy to find fresh ideas for artwork these days – because everything that has ever been created sits on the Internet. The saying ‘nothing’s new under the sun’ can seem so true when websites gather literally every artwork ever done.

You always have to check yourself in the inspiration process. Making sure that you aren’t simply ripping off someone’s artwork – but rather finding inspiration in the creativity.


When creating the album cover for Hillsong Worship’s new album ‘Open Heaven / River Wild’ – we started with a basic idea and from there began the process of finding inspiration.

One thing that I’ve seen time and time again with Hillsong albums is how the concept generally starts with a few angles – but towards the end of the projects we sift to what God is really trying to say for the project. This album was no different. It took a few months before we landed on ‘Open Heaven / River Wild’.

I don’t know about you – but I love this title. I could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit when I first heard the lyric “…open heaven crashing over me”. Creatively, I knew this artwork needed to visualise His spirit crashing towards us.

There were a few preliminary failed attempts when first capturing this idea, but it was when we found inspiration in ocean waves that it started to come together.

We first attempted to use photos from the coast of Sydney – however, when you think about the Holy Spirit crashing over me, I couldn’t help but envision enormous waves not just small shore breaks.

This is what led us to Shipstern’s Bluff in Tasmania – one of the biggest known breaks on earth, at times reaching 30ft.

It was photos like these that captured our attention

This wave exemplifies the Holy Spirit in my eyes – an untameable, unbreakable wave crashing towards us. It makes me think of Jesus’ heart towards a lost humanity – an unstoppable wave of grace, love, forgiveness, and acceptance rolling towards those who let Him in.

Shooting the wave was no easy walk in the park – with the generous help of our Hillsong Hobart location, we shot the break from both boat and shore.


This came with its challenges as the guys on the boat battled 15ft waves and for 3 hours, returning extremely seasick. For the guys on shore, it required an 8km hike each way with heavy gear.

From the Boat

We captured the aerial footage with a drone – this gave us an incredible perspective of the waves. When you look from this perspective it really encapsulates a visual of heaven rushing down to earth.

I remember thinking – on that rock shelf in the middle of nowhere and far from human life – how God was actually the artist for this cover. Our team did an incredible job shooting it; but really, we just merely captured every piece of art (each wave) He designed in that moment.

I think that’s really the beauty of this cover – there is no human touch, just simply an untreated photo of someone’s art – I guess essentially we really just ripped off The Artist, perhaps the greatest of artists. Anyhow, that’s how I like to think of it.

Hope you enjoy it.


Team Involved with artwork: Nathan Cahyadi, Richard Cause, Jamin Tasker, Dodge Pangburn & Renae Bartley