2016 Texas Book Festival Poster Revealed

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TXBF 2016 Poster RD2 (1)

“Why we was up so high you could see the whole World stretching out all around you…” – The Devil’s Backbone

We’re thrilled to reveal the official 2016 Texas Book Festival poster. This year’s poster art was selected in honor of Jack Unruh, the legendary Texas artist and illustrator who passed away in May 2016. Unruh’s iconic work appeared in many major publications over the years, including The Texanist column in Texas Monthly. The image used for the poster is taken from Bill Wittliff’s 2014 novel, The Devil’s Backbone, which Unruh famously illustrated. Many thanks to The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University and University of Texas Press for making the artwork available to the Festival.

bill wittliff“Jack illustrated my book–and became my friend while he was at it. It pleases me hugely that this wonderful work will forever be a part of my book,” Wittliff says.


Unruh was born in Pretty Prairie, Kansas in 1935. Because his father was an Air Force pilot, Unruh lived in a variety of places growing up. He graduated Washington University in St. Louis and majored in Magazine Illustration. After graduating, Unruh moved to Dallas where he began his career as an illustrator.

His drawing style is unique and eye-catching, employing tiny pen and ink marks while also integrating larger brush strokes. His portraits of well known figures bear a distinct animated, almost mischievous quality. Unruh communicates this same living motion in the piece of Texas landscape depicted in this poster image; at once revealing the stark, rugged terrain of Texas and the long, fluid history of its land.

jack unruh photoA prolific and recognized illustrator,  Unruh’s works have been published in Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Atlantic Monthly, Time, Sports Illustrated, Readers Digest, New York Magazine, National Geographic, Sports Afield, Field and Stream, GQ, Road and Track, and Texas Monthly. Unruh is a recipient of both gold and silver medals from the New York Society of Illustrators and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2006.

The Texas Book Festival poster is designed by Pentagram.

“I’ve worked with a lot of illustrators during my 35 year editorial design career and I can state unequivocally that Jack Unruh is the most famous illustrator to hail from the state of Texas,” says DJ Stout of Pentagram.  “His original style, sense of humor and work ethic is admired the world over.”

We are honored to be able to remember Jack Unruh with this signature piece of Texas Book Festival art. A great man and a great illustrator, Unruh will be dearly missed.

“Jack Unruh is not only one of the most gifted illustrators of our time he’s also one of the most gracious, selfless and lovable individuals I’ve ever known,” says Stout.