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For better than 20 years now, one of the exciting calls an illustrator can get is from a guy in Texas named DJ. Don’t believe me? Here’s a short list of people who’ve happily accepted his commissions: Anita Kunz, Marshall Arisman, John Collier, Matt Mahurin, Brad Holland, Milton Glaser, Richard Hess, Alan Cober, Jack Unruh, Hanoch Piven, Brian Stauffer, Braldt Bralds, Marvin Mattelson, James Marsh, Stephen Alcorn, Julian Allen, Randy Enos, Anthony Russo, Steve Pietzsch, Dugald Stermer, Jeff Smith, Zohar Lazar, Jody Hewgill, Brian Cronin, Paul Davis, Joe Ciardiello, Steve Brodner, Barry Blitt, Doug Fraser, Gary Baseman, Ward Sutton, Mark Ulriksen, Mellissa Grimes, Gary Kelley, Ross MacDonald, Cathie Bleck, Wendell Minor, Gerard Dubois, Christian Northeast, Bob Neubecker, Tom Curry, David Wilcox, Eddie Guy, Mike Benny, Melinda Beck, and Jason Holley. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Starting out in 1981 at Robert A Wilson Associates, DJ commissioned work from the likes of Jack Unruh, Gerry Gersten and Geoffrey Moss, and in 1987, when he took over the position at Texas Monthly vacated by fellow Gangel award-winner Fred Woodward, he began drawing attention for his award-winning publication design. For the next 13 years, he filled that magazine with stellar art and photography, and in the process garnered ten National Magazine Award nominations for Texas Monthly—and won the coveted award three of those times. In January of 2000, DJ was invited to become a partner at Pentagram Design, and in the 10 years since he’s continued that long-standing association, working with both emerging illustrators and top names in the field on a variety of projects, from magazines to packaging and corporate branding. Those images have appeared regularly in the pages of this and other annuals, and have won many awards for the artists involved. Along the way, his design work has become part of permanent collections that include the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Harry Ransom Center, and the Library of Congress, to name just a few.

DJ’s enthusiasm for illustration doesn’t end with commissioning great art, however: for the Society of Illustrators 39th annual, for example, he designed the Call for Entries poster, and for the second Illustration Conference in Santa Fe in 2000, he designed the logo, poster, and collateral materials free of charge, even arranging for the contribution of the paper & printing. And in 2005, when the Society was looking for a redesign of the annual, DJ & Pentagram stepped in again, creating the beautiful format for the book you hold in your hands right now.

But the real reason so many giants in our field want to work with him is that he genuinely understands the power of what we do, and when that call comes through, they know the project is going to suit them perfectly. That’s because DJ Stout is that rare designer who takes the time to see through our eyes, and to stand behind our vision in the editorial process. For an artist, that means the freedom to do what you do best. It’s the mark of truly trusting and supportive art director, and I can think of no one more deserving of this award than DJ.

– Marc Burckhardt

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