DJ Stout has had a remarkable life and a 35-year career as the award winning art director of Texas Monthly and partner at the internationally acclaimed design firm Pentagram. DJ's origins in a tiny West Texas town continue to inspire and inform his design work.
When I started work on this film everyone, including DJ, asked me, “Why did you decide to do a film on DJ Stout?” DJ seemed like a natural subject for a documentary. His accomplishments as an art director and designer at Texas Monthly and Pentagram are remarkable but his personal story and his connection to the “Great State of Texas” are what make him unique.
I was drawn to DJ’s story because I have a personal connection to Texas. Having grown up in San Antonio I chose to move to New York City after college to pursue my career in photography. DJ took a distinctly different path and found great success inspired by his origins in the Lone Star State. I was long aware of the quality of DJ’s award winning professional work. Tim Jarvis, a close friend of mine since college, became DJ’s friend and neighbor in Austin. Over the years, Tim often regaled me with highly amusing stories about his neighbor DJ.
In March of 2015 I contacted DJ with a proposal to film this documentary in May before the heat of the Texas summer set in. He was open to the idea and pointed out the lucky coincidence that his new book, “Variations on a Rectangle” would be released that October at about the same time that I planned to premier my film. This was indeed fortunate timing although our busy schedules prevented us from the start of filming till mid-August when temperatures in Texas were a blistering 110 degrees.
There was no shortage of creative and talented friends of DJ who wanted to help tell his story. It was tough to keep the film down to 17 minutes. A 30 minute interview often had to be edited down to a few seconds.
The film was shot over the course of seven days - three days in Austin, three days in West Texas and one day in Pentagram’s New York City offices. It was then up to my ultra-talented film editor, Aaron Wolfe, to artfully distill many hours of footage down to an engaging 17-minute documentary. The film premiered on November 14th Austin at DJ’s book launch event for “Variations on a Rectangle” amidst a weekend of some great parties. Click the image below to see a few scenes from the festivities.