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Our Favorite Dallas Observer Covers of 2014

Editor's Note: Throughout the year, Art Director Tracie Louck is hard at work creating the face of the paper. Her covers greet you at nearly every coffee shop, bar, restaurant or art space in town. They're all pretty damn good. But even she has favorites, so at the end of the year we ask her to round them up and tell us why she picked them.

Jan. 9: The photos I got back for this story about a South Dallas car wash were great for the story, but there wasn't a cover photo among them. So I got creative with stock art and a playful headline and type treatment.

Jan. 16: Can Turkyilmaz (aka Turk) shot many of my favorite covers, and this was the first of the year. The photos he took of Mastermind finalists Bart Weiss were all awesome, but this one was perfect for designing with the typography.

March 13: St. Patrick's Day was not the feature story, but it's such a Dallas tradition that I wanted readers to see a fun holiday cover in the newsstand. Illustrator Andrew Nilsen came up with a clever way of getting the (very important) point across: St. Paddy's Day is for drank in'!

April 3: This feature, about a piece of human garbage who knowingly infected women with HIV, needed a stark yet gripping image to convey the feeling of the story. A skull represents several aspects of the story, including death, evil, and also the metal scene he was a part of. And the ribbons make it clear that it involves HIV/AIDS.

April 24: The subjects of Lauren Smart's bondage story found the wonderful fetish model, Dolly Vicious, for us to photograph. Turk shot on location at Leather Masters, the cover shot was taken in the dressing room. What can I say, a hot girl makes for a hot cover!

May 15: Halt and Catch Fire didn't exactly catch fire. But it was AMC's attempt to fill Mad Men's shoes, and it's based on real events in Dallas, which made it pretty exciting. The stills from the show, not so much. I took the idea of '80s computers and paired it with the show's title to create an image that looks dramatic (as is the show).

June 26: The People Issue is always a showcase for great portraits. But this one rose above the rest, because Turk's photo made Police Chief David Brown look powerful and serene. It was an easy choice for one of the three glossy covers that week.

July 17: The writer of this story, about a family that adopts a lot of children, didn't choose a side. And I didn't want the cover to make it appear that we had, so the idea of the old woman who lived in a shoe popped into my head as a nice solution to a more serious story. Illustration by Mina Price.

August 21: Sarah Jaffe showed up for this photo shoot in 100+ degree August heat wearing corduroy pants and boots. But you wouldn't know any of that from her cool and collected expression. I had fun sinking the Observer logo behind a few leaves for a more dimensional look. Photo by Jason Janik.

Sept. 18: I've got to be honest, this cover got a lot of attention for two reasons. One, illustrator Christophe Gowans knocked it out of the park on the book cover spoof. Two, a lot of people skimmed the headline, then got really mad that Half-Price Books doesn't count as a "real" bookstore. If they'd read the story, they'd have understood why a chain of second-hand bookstores is not the same as Powell's or The Strand.

Sept. 25: Illustrator Dan Zettwoch consistently creates hilarious artwork, which you also may have seen as the same signature style that we pair with Alice's Cheap features. Since this iteration of Big Tex is new to this world, it's only fair to assume he's part of the selfie generation.

Oct. 2: I choose this one partly for its continued relevance in the news. The idea of looking at police through a lens is intimidating, so I wanted to put the reader in the scene as if they were holding the camera and being looked at suspiciously by the cops.

Oct. 9: We talked to the "new guard" of Dallas chefs to get their perspective on the local dining scene. Turk used the available resources to creatively show the chefs having fun, one being Stock & Barrel's Jon Stevens' head being smushed onto a grill. But this photo of Rush Patisserie's Samantha Rush doused in flour was the perfect fit for the cover.

Oct. 16: It's a cow. At a toll booth. With toll money in its mouth. For a story about toll road proponents paving over everything, including serene farmland, it's kind of the perfect image. Illustration by David Leonard.

Dec. 4: The starkness of the black and white photo, the simplicity of graphic t-shirt, and Blue's laid-back, welcoming posture made this a striking image for the cover. Photo by Karlo X. Ramos.

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