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TEXAS T-SQUARIN' DALLAS' ROUGH AND HOUSTON'S SLANTPROVE THERE'S NO LONE STAR AMONG TEXAS AD CLUB PUBLICATIONS

By Published on .

BIG HATS AND BIG HAIR AREN'T THE ONLY WAY TEXANS are preening for attention these days. Two of the hottest creative club newsletters in the country are coming out of Dallas and Houston, helping to lure awards show judges and speakers with their free-for-all approach to design.

Founded by the Dallas Society of Visual Communications (DSVC) in November 1991, Rough struts out nine times a year filled with everything from profiles of local artists to interviews with upcoming speakers, club gossip and original art and fiction. Aside from earning honors at national awards shows, Rough has paper companies booked a year ahead with donated services, while helping to double club membership to 700.

"I think of it as a backstage pass to people's lives," says editor Phil Hollenbeck, a photographer who founded the magazine along with writer Bill Baldwin and designers Shawn Freeman and Todd Hart of Focus 2, a Dallas design shop. "It's a fun vehicle," he adds. "It's supposed to be politically incorrect-a sliver of Howard Stern in print."

For instance, when the editors published the wrong date for the annual auction, they issued the correct date by posing nude on the cover behind a giant number 15; a Halloween issue featured an apple on its cover, pierced with X-Acto knife blades, and when a few readers complained about unreadable type, out came: "The jumbo-type, client-friendly table of contents" headline over a page laid out like a "Dick and Jane" textbook. And even though the magazine has evolved from the first b&w rough-hewn layouts from Focus 2-the first issue featured a giant tarantula surrounded by scribbled art director's notes-it still resonates with varying degrees of irreverence as various Dallas shops like Brainstorm Inc. take turns designing it. Plans are in the offing to put Rough on the Internet and on CD-ROM.

Across the state-and taking a more classical approach to design-is Slant, a quarterly publication from the Art Directors Club of Houston, which was founded in 1993. And while Hollenbeck claims "Slant came from Rough," Houston editor Molly Glentzer disagrees, explaining the quarterly magazine was founded to boost the club's image, with issues going to members and a VIP list of eligible speakers and awards show judges. "This is our underhanded effort to keep an edge out there," Glentzer explains. "The whole purpose of Slant is to promote creativity. We give members a chance to create something beyond what they can do at work."

With all but one of the seven issues art directed by Chuck Thurmon of Loucks Atelier, a Houston design studio, Slant is bereft of the gossipy photo spreads and chitchat found in its Lone Star sibling. Instead it focuses on original art work and fiction from local talents and news of upcoming speakers. In a recent issue, six writers were paired with six artists and asked to devise an illustrated story or essay around the theme of gifts, all of which Thurmon presented in clean, attractive spreads. "I don't want to overwhelm the art with too much design," he says. "When artwork is strong it just about designs itself."

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