The Poster Boys

By Russ Pate, published in AdWeek, 1985

A variety of the best work in Texas design is showcased in a new book, 100 Texas Posters, available in mid-September from Graphic Design Press (Herring Press) in Houston. Written by Houstonian Donald L. Pierce Jr., the book showcases the work of such leading names as Stan Richards, Jerry Herring, Woody Pirtle, Jay Loucks, Michael Hicks and traces the development of commercial design in the Lone Star state. The book, distributed by Robert Silver Associates in New York, retails for $25.


Texas: America's Newest Design School

By Ruth Pennebaker, published in AdWeek, October 1985

Texas' spectacular economic growth spawns art as well as commerce,. Once neglected and provincial, its top designers now are national recognized and influential. "The state of design here is superb," says Stan Richards, the primogenitor of today's Dallas Design. "There isn't a city in the world where advertising design is being practiced at a higher level than it is in Dallas."

Dominated by designers in the state's largest cities, Dallas and Houston, the Texas look is diverse and freewheeling, teeming with color and vitality. "There's very definitely a Texas look — and it's exemplified by Stan Richards, Woody Pirtle and Jerry Herring," says Andy Kner, Print magazine art director and vice president/creative director at Baker & Spielvogel in New York. "It's very warm, with the pastel palettes they all use. It's very elegant, with almost precious use of typography. The type is usually very small and delicate, with shades of gray rather than black.

"It's a very luxurious look, super-elegant. It's also a very expensive look, very confident. Not being afraid to spend money — I'd call that a Texas characteristic."

So would others. Many of Texas' fortunes are in the hands of first-or-second generation entrepreneurs, men and women who have risked millions of dollars drilling in the sands of West Texas. These aren't people to be daunted by funding an expensive corporate brochure.

"A lot of the really stunning work has been done for entrepreneurs who are themselves risk takers," says Jerry Herring. "This sort of spirit is reflected in the design. In Texas now I'm able to sit down with the person who founded the company — someone who has a clear idea of what he wants and doesn't want. You aren't encumbered by layers of committees."

Richards is now head of Richards Brock Miller Mitchell and Associates, an 18-member design group, as well as a full-service advertising agency employing more than 100. Splashed with colorful and often whimsical imagery, Richards' designs set the standards for the state. "You can just about trace the time the Texas market for design exploded to when Stan Richards came to the state," says Donald L. Pierce Jr., editor of 100 Texas Posters, a collection of works by the states leading designers.


Texas, Flat Out 

By Tim Allis, published in D Magazine, September 1985

The popular art of posters — the most explicitly persuasive of the visual arts — is also a craft. With posters, the question "What does it mean?" is rarely asked. Posters communicate forthrightly — informing, enticing, convincing. They are created, often by more than one person, as a means to an end. They are commercial, commissioned by a client for a fee. They are out to sell — a product, an event, an ideology.

But posters persuade through their art, their design. It is the delicate balance of message, concept, color, line, form and text that makes a poster great, invoking not just admiration from the viewer, but some tangible reaction as well.

The posters reprinted here [10 posters were reproduced in the Dallas publication] announced arts events, parties, even a new industry (Texas wine). We selected them from 100 Texas Posters, a new book by Donald L. Pierce Jr. Available this month, the book catalogues a sampling of recent posters made by the stat'e best design firms, many of which are located in Dallas. 

When Dallas' premier graphic designer, Stan Richards, arrived here in 1953 fresh out of New York's Pratt Institute, the city didn't know what design was. Richards and his partners quickly put Dallas and Texas on the design map. Three decades later, Texas design has arrived. Richards is still here, preeminent in the field, but joined by major firms in the major cities and a prestigious list of clients from all over, including New York.

These posters mirror the prevailing state of design in Texas, including its newest styles and the degrees of expertise of those who practice it. The posters also offer a glimpse of the other commercial arts, such as advertising and interior design, and they allude to the fine arts. And since that are intrinsically attached to the culture that creates them, they reveal us as few art forms do. These are the new faces of Texas.