Texas Monthly magazine defined the Lone Star State in the 70s, 80s and 90s. DJ Stout was the art director behind Texas Monthly for more than a decade, and was responsible for some of the magazine’s most iconic covers.
KERA’s Rick Holter talked with Stout about his new book, a retrospective on his design career called “Variations on a Rectangle.”
Interview Highlights: DJ Stout…
…On playing with Texas stereotypes:
“I love those kinds of things. It’s what we used to call at the magazine, we used to refer to it as the ‘Texas Myth.’ That didn’t mean that it wasn’t true, it just meant that these are all the things that are Texas heritage subjects: big hair, oil men, cowboy hats, cowboy boots, Mexican food. What I tried to do at Texas Monthly was to take some of those things that could be very cliché and do them in an interesting way.”
…On the 1990 Ann Richards-Clayton Williams cover:
“We wanted to do this story about the [Texas governor’s] campaign and I had this idea of them doing the Texas Two-Step. I reached out to both of their offices. I made the case that, ‘it looks bad right now, you guys are insulting each other, and it’s not pretty.’
At first they said, ‘okay, we’ll do it.’ But then an event happened in Dallas where Ann Richards was announced, she came up on stage and Clayton Williams would not shake her hand. I got a call from both camps and they said, ‘we’re not getting in the same room together,’ because he had offended her, and it was actually a really bad mood on his part.
But Ann’s camp said, ‘we love the idea though, DJ. Can’t you just fake it or something?’ So I found a body double for both of them and we dressed them the way they dressed and we photographed it and stripped the heads in.”
…On his visual takes on Texas during his time with magazines:
A lot of the things that people remember from that 13 years, that sort of ‘golden era of magazines’ is they used humor really well, and used it effectively. Sometimes I think the bigger metropolises take themselves a little bit too seriously and I think in Texas, we still have a good, healthy sense of humor and we don’t take ourselves that serious.
DJ Stout is a partner at Pentagram, an Austin design firm. He was the art director at Texas Monthly for 13 years.