Neon Museum Oral Histories
Jack Dubois | Designer
Jack Dubois knew as a boy growing up in Stockton, California that he was going to be an artist. He studied graphic design in college and planned on going into advertising. In the 1960s, advertising was dominated by clever copywriting and simple black-and-white photographs. Jack preferred the unrestrained energy of psychedelic rock posters, art his college instructors dismissed as “illegible.” In 1966, Jack applied for a summer job at AD-ART, knowing nothing about the company except that it had the word “art” in its title. When he walked in for his interview, he was stunned by the renderings of company’s work for casinos in Las Vegas. The signs resembled sculptures of the colorful rock posters he admired. Jack quickly decided that he wanted to become a sign designer.
After a stint in Vietnam as a military propaganda illustrator, Jack rejoined AD-ART in 1970. Jack’s first mentor at the company was Bob Miller, who later became corporate art director. When Miller left the company, his job went to Charles “Chuck” Barnard, best known for his “Vegas Vickie” sign. Jack worked closely with Barnard for many years, eventually assuming his position as corporate art director in 1990 when Barnard stepped back to work on his book, The Magic Sign.
AD-ART began to lose money in the 1990s and closed in 2001. AD-ART employees found employment elsewhere, but for Jack and others the work was not the same. Several former AD-ART employees resurrected the company as a sign sales brokerage, keeping design and sales in house and outsourcing manufacture and installation. Jack rejoined the company as Design Director in 2005 and continues to design signs to this day.
Jack shares the story of how he became inspired by the work of his co-workers and how their skilled illustrations on some of Las Vegas' most iconic properties encouraged him to become a better artist and designer.
In the mid-1960s, AD-ART hit the Las Vegas market like a meteorite. Within just a few years, the company created iconic signage for the Thunderbird (1964), Caesars Palace (1966), the Frontier (1967), and the Stardust (1968). AD-ART combined sophisticated marketing, top design, and aggressive salesmanship to become a major player in the sign industry. Jack and other AD-ART designers knew that the company’s real product was not physical hardware; it was the customer’s brand embodied in a sign.
The Most Honest Form of Advertising
Jack continues to design signs more than fifty years after he first walked into for an interview at AD-ART. He is grateful to have been able to make a career in art. He calls signs “the most honest form of advertising,” because they directly communicate the information that people need to know.