Discover the inspiration behind our new Texas Map Towel made in partnership with graphic designer and photographer, Josh Abel. As a Lone Star State native, he reveals hidden gems and his favorite local spots through his captivating design. Join us for a conversation on his creative process, can't-be-missed Texas road trip destinations, and so much more.
Can you share a bit about yourself: where you’re from, what you do, your design aesthetic, etc?
Hi! My name is Josh Abel and I am a graphic designer and photographer originally from Ft Worth, Texas (north Texas just west of Dallas) and am currently living and working in Austin. By day I work as the Senior Graphic Designer at Howler Brothers, a men’s outdoor apparel company also based in Austin. When I can, I’ll pick up creative side projects of all sorts that I think might be fun when they come my way.
Putting it simply, I would say that my design aesthetic is usually high concept and a little more minimal in style with some vintage flares. I am inspired by many different things in the creative world as well as out of it and feel my aesthetic is kind of ever evolving.
How did you come up with the concept for the Texas Map Towel design?
When approached for the project, I definitely felt honored to represent my home state of Texas for Nomadix. I wanted to represent the state well in showcasing some of the things and places that make Texas the gem it is. I also wanted to bring in some personal touches that a fellow Texan might notice and tip their hat to or someone unfamiliar with the area would be intrigued to try and research and maybe check out one day!
What was the inspiration behind the design? Were there specific themes, colors, or elements that were essential to include to best represent Texas?
I love old school graphic design and illustration work, especially in the travel world. Vintage postcards, maps, matchbooks, and other ephemera have so much character and I feel this was my ultimate inspo for the illustrative direction and feel of the design. I knew each destination was going to live at a relatively small scale on the towel so it was important that I kept the colors minimal and the illustrations bold, even if they were somewhat “complex.” Finding that balance was key.
For each destination, I really only wanted one or two main elements to make up a scene. As for deciding what to include and how, that was a more difficult process. Multiple lists were made and unmade. I wanted to shy away from just making a giant Texas cliche design, but there are some things you just can't leave off - Bluebonnets, a cowboy or cowboy hat in some form, prickly pear cactus, the Alamo, a longhorn, Big Tex, a rattlesnake. In the end I really tried to approach the concept as if I were taking a friend who had never visited Texas on an epic road trip and the things I’d want to show them.
Which elements, locations, or symbols of the region were your favorite to design?
I really enjoyed creating some of the elements that I have personal ties to. Ft Worth is my hometown and is famous for the Stockyards, I felt I had to include the Stockyards and their famous brick roads and cattle drives, though in place of the cattle I threw in a panther. Ft Worth is also called Panther City, the reason ties back to an old (and still lightheartedly ongoing) feud with neighboring Dallas. I’ll let you look up that history.
Big Bend and the surrounding area is one of my favorite places in the US. The region is unbelievably gorgeous, desolate and in my opinion extremely under the radar. For Big Bend, I featured one of my favorite places in the park, Santa Elena Canyon, with a lone kayaker on the Rio Grande.
Central Texas was a fun one too - Texas wine country in Fredericksburg, Enchanted Rock, Austin’s Greenbelt, BBQ and a nod to Willie/Austin music, Guadalupe bass (the official state fish) on the fly.
For someone visiting Texas for the first time, where should they go for the ultimate road trip?
Let’s lay out the towel! This is going to be a long one.
Let’s start in northeast Texas working our way through the pines to Dallas for Fletcher’s Corny Dogs at the State Fair of Texas, then over to Ft Worth to visit the stockyards, eat at Joe T. Garcia’s and visit The Modern Art Museum. From Ft Worth, hop on I-35 south to the state capital and grab some Czech kolaches in West, surf (yes, surf) in Waco and also grab some jerky at Buc-ees on the way down. In Austin, catch some music, grab some BBQ, cool off in Barton Springs and then head over to Houston to see the rodeo and eat some more of the best food in Texas.
Hop down and explore Galveston from Houston and then head back inland to San Antonio to visit the Alamo and eat some Tex-Mex on the River Walk. From San Antonio head way down to South Padre Island and then up to Corpus Christi and try and catch some small Texas waves or some redfish along the way. After Corpus, head back towards Austin, hitting New Braunfels and San Marcos on the way up I-35 and do some tubing on Guadalupe River.
Once back in Austin, casually catch ACL Music Fest (October) and then head into the Texas Hill Country to Hamilton Pool for a quick dip. After Hamilton Pool head to Fredericksburg and do some winery hopping and then some shopping and eating in town. From Fredericksburg, head up to Enchanted Rock to hike the large rock dome and sweat out all of the wine from the Hill Country wineries you just visited.
Driving through the Texas Hill Country, head waaay out west to Big Bend National Park. Take in the gorgeous desert mountains, hike and camp Big Bend (always make sure to catch sunrise in the park). On the way out of Big Bend, stop in Terlingua, a ghost town right outside of Big Bend. Explore Terlingua’s ruins and visit the Starlight Theatre. After Big Bend, head up towards Marfa to explore the awesome weirdness that is Marfa, attempt to see the unexplained Marfa lights and definitely see some of the best stars you’ll see anywhere in the world (maybe you’ll see a UFO as well). After Marfa, head up to El Paso, then over to Guadalupe Mountains National park and upwards into the High Plains towards Lubbock.
Once in Lubbock check out the Buddy Holly Center, stop into Chimy’s for a drink and try to not hit too many tumbleweeds on the way out of town. From Lubbock, keep heading north to Palo Duro Canyon State Park (the second largest canyon in the US) and do some hiking or mountain biking keeping an eye open at all times for rattlesnakes. After Palo Duro Canyon, keep heading north in the panhandle to Amarillo and check out the Cadillac Ranch, an art installation with 10 half buried Cadillacs coming out of the ground, also make sure to spray paint some graffiti on the cars (don’t worry, it’s allowed).
I’d say for a first time visit to Texas, that would be pretty good.
Where can people follow your work?