TEXAS, FLAT OUT

Seeing through the eyes of the image-makers: 17 posters from our masters of the genre

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 forthright-ly-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 10 posters reprinted here 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 state’s 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 they are intrinsically attached to the culture that creates them, they reveal us as few art forms do. These are the new faces of Texas.

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