DJ Stout on big hair, cowboy poets and planet Texas (trailer)

The Austin-based Pentagram partner and graphic designer says a sense of place is important for what graphic designers do.

Decked out in a Stetson hat and cowboy boots, DJ Stout takes inspiration here from one of his heroes, American folklorist and writer J. Frank Dobie, who believed in the power of regionalism and was quoted as saying "great literature transcends its native land but none that I know of ignores its soil". The graphic designer, a partner at Pentagram, weaves an immersive presentation of visuals and sound that conjure up his homestate, Texas, and its influence on his work. 

Stout explains that celebrating the quirky characters, regionalisms and even cultural clichés of Texas through his work results in an authentic visual language that resonates more broadly.

He shows a book of cowboy poetry featuring gorgeous portraits by Jay B Sauceda of real-life cowboy poets alongside their work.  “It is hokey. It is corny. It is kind of like what you think it is, but I really love it and a lot of other people loved it because there is something about it that is very honest and down to earth, and it is about the things that cowboys love. They love the land, they love their fellow cowboys and family, and they love horses.”

“A sense of place – being from somewhere – is so important to us as graphic designers and what we do,” he enthuses.

On stage with Stout is fellow Austenite, composer and musician Graham Reynolds, who wrote a score for the presentation evoking the cattle drive, galloping horse, big sky and expansive landscape of the place. 

This year for the first time, the Design Indaba Conference talks make their premiere on our app, conveniently packaged in one place and available for free download. To watch DJ Stout’s full conference talk download the app here or keep watching for updates.

Watch the Talk with DJ Stout