Although San Francisco illustrator Mark Ulriksen has been to Texas several times (“I even got a traffic ticket from a no-nonsense cop in Amarillo, my first ever”), he had to do some catching up on state politics for “Carole Keeton Strayhorn Has Guts…”. “I’m pretty familiar with Texas politicos who impact my life, like Tom DeLay and the president,” he says, “but I have to admit the comptroller was under my radar.” Ulriksen, who used to be a graphic designer and the art director for the magazine San Francisco Focus, says he picked up the paintbrush full-time in 1994 after realizing that “the illustrators I was working with were having more fun than I was.” He is now a regular contributor to the New Yorker.
“I couldn’t believe the amount of guns under one roof,” says Austin photographer Charles Ommanney, who found the 134th annual National Rifle Association convention in Houston rather overwhelming (“Happiness Is a Warm Gun”). “And the whole cross section of people! Everyone from a ninety-year-old woman to a six-year-old boy.” Ommanney, who was born in London, spent the nineties as a war correspondent in Eastern Europe and Africa and is now a contract photographer for Newsweek. “I grew up going hunting, and I have seen the terrible effects of assault weapons, so I can go both ways,” he says. “But I found the show pretty shocking. There seemed to be more talk of fear and self-protection than hunting.”
“I love to travel around Texas,” says new-media director Charlie Llewellin, who’s been exploring the state since he arrived here from Wales in 1991. “It’s incredibly beautiful in this weirdly primeval way, almost laughing at humans’ attempts to conquer it.” Fortunately, Llewellin, who has done everything from driving trucks to teaching yoga, also likes to write about his journeys. “I love bringing back reports from the state’s corners,” he says. For “Hello to a River”, those corners include the Brazos, the Colorado, the Sabine, and Big Cypress Bayou.