We’d like to wish Mr. Jack Unruh, the illustrator mastermind behind our advice column The Texanist, a very happy birthday. Every month since July 2007, Unruh has sent us an illustration that makes us feel like it’s OUR birthday when we open it. 

If you want to find out how many Texas tattoos is too many, go here.

Little known fact: that Critter page you all know and love is hand painted for us by Matt Diffee. Sent to us on board and everything. #triviatuesday #mattdiffee #illustration (at Texas Monthly)

Sup Lance! Here’s one title nobody can strip from ya. Congrats to our newest Bum Steer of the Year.

While the death rattle of Dublin Dr Pepper was still clanging in everyone’s ears and hearts, the Texanist (aka Associate Editor David Courtney) had the task of answering a reader’s question about what to do with a kid who had broken 4 bottles of the cane sugar magic. The Texanist, a well known fan of the Dublin DP, proved that all he needed to project the correct emotion for this reference photo was the mere thought of it happening to him. Or it could have been that orange carpet. 

When we tapped illustrator Tyler Jacobson to pull off a riff on Boris Vallejo’s 1983 movie poster for National Lampoon’s Vacation for our September 2011 feature on Rick Perry’s political campaign prowess (The Great Campaigner) we knew that the devil was in the details. By far, this was one of the most random selections of reference photos we had to send to an illustrator (dead coyote, past campaign signs and can you find a horny toad?) but also one of the most fun to see the finished product. Here’s a side-by-side comparison for you to see how we did. Now what’s for lunch?

The best part about profiling an artist is that sometimes we can put them to work. In this case, we asked Gary Myrick, courtroom artist, to put his skills to work on a portrait of himself to run in our January 2012 issue (Sketchy Characters). This art didn’t end up in the final layout.

Every month, I get to take reference photos of Associate Editor David Courtney, AKA The Texanist, for our wonderful illustrator Jack Unruh. Today happens to be Mr. Unruh’s birthday, so to celebrate I’m kicking off our series of Before/After posts featuring Jack’s mind blowing work and my paltry reference photos. From all of us at Texas Monthly, happy birthday Jack! Thanks for bringing the Texanist into full color for all these years!