I met DJ Stout in 1988, about a year after he had taken over art directing Texas Monthly. His first cover (above) became the biggest selling issue of the magazine to date. His second issue was the worst selling issue to date. There’s a lesson there, too. Maybe in another post.
He was invited to speak to the students in the Design Comm program at Texas Tech, his alma mater, by our guru, Frank Cheatham. DJ was very inspiring, sparking the imaginations of young and impressional students. A great guy, very generous with his time and insights. Had beers with him later that evening after the talk at 14th Street.
I met DJ again a couple of years later when he spoke at the Art Director’s Club of Houston. (Let’s be clear… we’re not fiends, or even acquaintances. I’m pretty sure if asked he could not pick me out of a police line-up.)
By this time DJ had already won a number of national and international awards for his work at Texas Monthly. Someone in the crowd asked him how he got to be such a great art director. He said:
Hire the best people possible and let them do their thing.
Simple advice. It is hard to argue his methods when you look at his track record.
But isn’t this good advice for hiring in general as well? And managing people, too. Work with the best people you can find and give them the space to be their best.