“I have great memories of Tech and Lubbock,” says T. J. Tucker, BFA, 2001, Austin, Texas. The Art Director for Texas Monthly, a legendary Texas magazine publication, explained to me that he had grown up in West Texas, attending Tech football games, and had always looked forward to coming to Tech-it was a shining beacon for him.
As a freshman, he elected to take a year of all art classes, which he described as a “neat break.” At the time he took Design I and II classes, the courses were only painting classes. He found, however, that a background of art fundamentals (painting and drawing) translates nicely to digital. “It is important for a graphic artist to be able to draw,” comments Tucker.
“I love Lubbock,” he says unabashed. He enjoyed the latter part of his degree here at Lubbock and the SoA so much- especially the instructors. “Dirk Fowler is one reason I’m here (Texas Monthly) right now. John Raspberry, Dirk, Carla (Tedeschi) are so good because actually they have real world experience . . . they give you a balance between ‘won’t fly in the real world’ versus your dreams and aspirations.”
Artie Limmer, BFA 1987, photographer and Associate Director of Communications and Marketing was a big influence on Tucker’s work and another person he credits as a reason for being where he is today. He worked for Limmer who allowed him to make mistakes and then, determine how to correct them. “I always tell people to work with the best people in their field and I have gotten to!”
Learning from the best people in your field is a recommendation Tucker makes to communication design students. “As an assistant, learn as much as you can from the person over you, study it, and add to that. ‘Frankenstein’ that into your own thing,” Tucker recommends.
He advises students to also do what he got to do-get “plugged in” as soon as they can. He received an internship early on and found out that this was definitely the field he wanted. He further advises to build your portfolio, get yourself out there and immerse yourself into the profession. “I worked hard early on to set this stuff in place – you shouldn’t wait until your senior year to start thinking about a job . . . or worse realize this might not be what you want.”
The Texas Monthly Art Director’s chair, in which Tucker sits is jokingly referred to as one where only Tech graduates may sit. Before Tucker sat there, Scott Dadich, BFA -Communication Design and Photography 1999, directed art at Texas Monthly for six years and before him, DJ Stout, BFA-Communication Design and Illustration, 1986, sat for 12 years-even current Associate Art Director, Caleb Bennett graduated from TTU with a BFA in 2005. (I say that Communication Design and Photography at Tech’s SoA must produce amazingly talented and successful artists.)
When Tucker, a sixth generation Texan, needs to get away from his “Art Director” chair, he goes back home to his family ranch in Baird to get away from the fast pace and enjoy the still and beauty of West Texas. It’s no wonder that he can be inspired by antiquities there-interesting old prints and the like. I think he could be a West Texas Renaissance man. Guns up!