October 16th, 2011 Book Signing at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

Hello Austinites!

After the long, hot and harsh Austin summer that broke the record for the number of 100 degree days, it’s good to know that fall is just around the corner. To celebrate, the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center in south Austin is hosting their annual Fall Plant Sale where they will sell plants from “nearly 300 species of hardy Texas natives bred to deal with our Central Texas climate” – like the extreme summer we just went through!

In addition to selling plants, the festival will highlight several books that celebrate Austin and Texas. As part of the the Wildflower Center’s Fall Plant Sale the photographer and writer of “Austin, Texas: A Photographic Portrait” Peter Tsai and Tiffany Hamburger will be signing their book from 1-4 PM pm on Sunday, October 16th, 2011.

Come out to meet the creators of the Austin Photo book! The Wildflower Center will have plenty of copies in the book store, so you can buy a copy there.

For more information about the event, go to

Austin, Texas: A Photographic Portrait – Book now on Sale!

Two years in the making, the Austin photography book entitled “Austin, Texas: A Photographic Portrait” is on sale now!

While you can read about this 128 page, hardback Austin coffee table book on the About page on this blog, we all know a picture is worth a thousand words.

So, I put together this hands-on video that gives a better feel for what you can expect from the book.

As the video shows, the book is packed full of colorful photos and insightful captions for over 100 landmarks around Austin. Whether you are new to Austin or have lived here your entire life, there’s something for you in its pages.

As I mentioned in the video, you can buy the book online at and

We Austinites all like to “Keep Austin Weird” as well – BookPeople has the book but it’s not in their computer system yet. When you go into the store, you will have to search the Texana/Texas History section manually. When I went in, it was on the far shelf, next to the Texas Nature section next to “Trillin on Texas”. If you head to Barnes and Noble, my book will be in the Texas section (although it’s cheaper to buy online at

If you represent a hotel or corporation that wants to buy at least 5 books, please use the following form to inquire about a bulk order discount.

You can also order individual prints or licence photos from the book at on the photo prints page.

In closing, I would like to thank you to all of the Austinites around town that helped in the making this book about our awesome city! I could not have finished this multi-year project without you.

To stay in touch, please subscribe to this blog for more cool info about Austin and possibly future events related to the book. You can also find me on Twitter @AustinPhotoBook and @supertsai.

Tell all of your friends! Thanks a million!

Austin Mural Tour – Keeping Austin Weird with Street Art

“Keep Austin Weird” has become a rallying cry that has come to symbolize maintaining the unique (and non cookie cutter) character of the city by supporting local businesses, culture, and the arts. One of our favorite “weird” things about Austin is the numerous iconic murals around town that make the Austin a cool place to live.

Austin’s decorative murals, shown here using photos from the book Austin, Texas: A Photographic Portrait, make a great backdrop for a photo and will bring a smile to your face whether you are visiting Austin for the first time (maybe you are here for SXSW 2011 or Austin City Limits) or if you are an Austinite down to your core.

Austintatious Mural - Drag Guadalupe UT
Austintatious Mural

If you only have time to check out one mural in Austin, the Austintatious Mural in the Renaissance Market is the one to see. Painted by 3 friends known as the Austintatious Artists, this massive mural comically depicts both the landmarks of downtown Austin on one side of the square, and on the other, the entire state of Texas. At Renaissance Market you can buy all sorts of hand crafts and jewelry, and with the student oriented Drag shopping strip around it and the Univerity of Texas directly across from it, there’s plenty to do when visiting this mural. If you want to learn how to paint with acrylic paint you need to know that there are some differences in quality and composition between craft and artist acrylic, get the acrylic paint sets amazon if you are a beginner painter.

Murals on Austin Drag by Fredrico Archuleta AKA "Fe De Rico"
The Drag Murals at 24th and Guadalupe – Tower Records \ Intellectual Property \ Wells Fargo Building

Just 1 block over from the Austintatious Mural, the corner of 24th and Guadalupe is home to 2 beautiful murals, one gigantic movie themed mural on the old Intellectual Property / Tower Records building and a dreamlike warped mural on the side of the Wells Fargo Bank (former GAP building). At the street level of the old Tower Records building you will find many stencil based pieces featuring famous rock stars by the prolific Austin artist Federico Archuleta.

Austin frog mural hi how are you? - Guadalupe Drag
Hi How Are You? Frog Mural

The iconic Hi How are You? Frog might as well be the poster child for Austin weirdness. Painted in 1993 by musician Daniel Johnston, the Frog has been a fixture on the Drag ever since, surviving building remodels and the occasional prankster vandalism. The Frog has spawned an entire industry around it – you can buy a T-shirt with the picture of the frog at Storyville on South Congress and the iconic amphibious street art has even inspired an iPhone game it featuring music by Daniel Johnston.
Austin Postcard Mural

Located on the side of the Roadhouse Relics building on South 1st street and Annie, this iconic, vintage looking Austin mural is a great tourist photo opp or an engagement photo shoot favorite. Once you’re done taking a few snapshots here, head over to the nearby Trailer Park Eatery, where you can enjoy a Torchy’s taco or two. The South First neighborhoods around the mural are also great to take a stroll around.

South Austin Music Mural Shop Lamar Blvd Texas
South Austin Music

Another mural depicting Austin music legends on the side of the South Austin Music building on South Lamar. Aaron Sacco created this full wall mural to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Austin institution, the South Austin Music store. The wall features over 30 local Austin musicians and spans 40 feet long. Artists highlighted on the mural include: Alejandro Escoveda, Patrice Pike, Guy Forsyth, Kevin Fowler, Papa Mali, and more. To see more of Aaron Sacco’s work, go to

Rhapsody - East Austin Mosaic Jazz Mural
Rhapsody Mosaic Mural

Rhapsody, the huge, colorful mosaic mural in East Austin by artist John Yancey is on the southwest corner of East 11th Street and Waller. Yancey, an associate chairman and professor of art at the University of Texas, designed the mural to reflect East Austin’s rich African American history.

6th street live music capital of the world mural - Downtown Austin
Live Music Capital of the World Mural on 6th Street

On 6th street near San Jacinto, this mural seemingly popped out of nowhere one day in 2009. It covers up the site of the burned down Black Cat Lounge and is a welcome addition to 6th street and the music scene it gives a home to, that earned Austin the title of “Live Music Capital of the World”. Austin music legends featured in the mural include: Stevie Ray Vaughan, Willie Nelson, Janis Joplin, Townes Van Zandt, and Roky Erickson.

Austin Tesoros Trading Company Mother Mar
South Congress Murals – Tesoros

South Congress is come to numerous murals and graffiti pieces, some done by notable artists like Shepard Fairey, who designed the Obama “Hope” poster. You can find many murals on the walls of stores and in back alleys (the Fairey piece is behind Home Slice). The particular mural is by Fredrico Archuleta and features the same mural of Mary, mother of Jesus that appeared on the Drag – it’s located across from Guero’s on South Congress and Elizabeth.

george washington carver library mural - East Austin Texas
George Washington Carver Library and Museum

This colorful and huge mural entitled “Sesquicentennial” was created by John Fisher. It depicts the hardships of slaves during middle passage and is located at the George Washington Carver Center in East Austin at Angelina St and Rosewood Ave. Originally created in 1986, the mural was restored last in 1999.

SXSWi 2011 and MOO Cards for Austin Photo Book

SXSWi 2011 at the Austin Convention Center

South by Southwest 2011 is fast approaching and an estimated 36,000 visitors will soon descend on Austin for the SXSW interactive, music and film conferences. During SXSW, the movers and shakers in their respective industries come to Austin to learn about new industry trends, discover new ideas and talent, and network with people from all around the world.

Speaking of networking, Peter Tsai, the photographer of Austin, Texas: A Photographic Portrait will be at SXSWi this year! If you are attending SXSWi 2011, make sure to follow him on Twitter at @AustinPhotoBook or at his personal account at @supertsai.

MOO Photo Business Cards
Give him a shout! If you do meet up with him, he’ll give you one of his awesome MOO business cards, which happen to feature one of 25 photos from Austin, Texas: A Photographic Portrait. If you want to learn more about MOO cards, you can find them on Twitter at @overheardatmoo

Don’t have a badge for SXSW this year? No worries – there’s many ways to participate in the SXSW even without a badge. Websites like Republic of Austin and SXSW Free Noms will show you where to get your party on for free! Why are there so many free parties in Austin during SXSW? I’m not sure, but it’s just one more reason why Austin is an awesome place to live.

Proof of Why People Love Austin – Austin Named to Countless “Best Of” Lists

Downtown Austin Neon Sign with the Frost Tower

We already know that recently, people have been moving to Austin in large numbers, but did you know that more than 17 million people visit the capital of Texas every year?

What do visitors come to Austin for? Tens of thousands of people come regularly for hugely popular events like the SXSW Conferences, Austin City Limits Music Festival, and University of Texas football games. Others come to visit family and friends or to take advantage of the many attractions around town, like the State Capitol (which gets 1 million visitors a year), great museums, a great music and nightlife scene, and Austin’s natural beauty.

One thing is for sure – people love Austin. As if the city’s friendly people, burgeoning restaurant scene, world class university, great attractions, beautiful public facilities, and low cost of living weren’t proof enough for why people love this place, the following sampling of superlative “Best Of” lists that Austin has been named to provide a clearer picture.

Top Austin, Texas “Best Of Lists”

Number One Best City for the Next Decade – Kiplinger for 2010-2020
Best Places to Live 2009 – US News and World Report
Best Cities to Move to in America 2010 – Yahoo! Real Estate
Number 1 Big City for Jobs 2009 –
Most Popular City For Young People (ages 24-35) 2007-2009 – Brookings Institute
Best City For Recession Recovery – Forbes / Yahoo! Finance
Number 2 American IT startup ‘Hot Spot’
Best Bargain City in America 2009 –
Top 10 City for Young Professionals 2010 – Forbes
Top U.S. Entrepreneurial Creative Center 2010 – Entrepreneur
Most Dog Friendly City in America 2008
Fourth best place to visit in U.S. in 2011 – Lonely Planet
6th Smartest City in America 2010 –
America’s Number 3 Best Music Citiy 2010 – Travel+Leisure
3rd Best City for Singles 2010 – Travel+Leisure
5th Least Stressed City in America 2010

Do you know of any other cool “best of” lists that Austin is on? What are the reasons that you love Austin? Let us know in the comments!

Also, don’t forget that the book Austin, Texas: A Photographic Portrait will be in bookstores everywhere in March!

Austin is Beautiful – Austin Scenic Overlooks Tour

Austin is known for it’s natural beauty, with its great parks, miles of hiking trails, and the beautiful Lady Bird Lake running through downtown. Any tour of Austin should include at least one scenic overlook, an elevated place where you can get a great view of the city. These spots are great places for a romantic hike, relaxing, or great people watching.

Lucky for you, this guide will highlight some of the best public scenic overlooks in Austin using photos from the Austin coffee table book, Austin, Texas: A Photographic Portrait.

Austin Pennybacker Bridge - 360 Cliff View
Austin 360 Cliff
Northwest side the Pennybacker Bridge south of West Courtyard Dr. (see map)

One of the best views in Austin! From on top of the cliff you can see Lake Austin, the Pennybacker Bridge, and the downtown skyline from a distance. To access the view, park on the side of the road in the small gravel lot and hike 2 minutes to get to the top of the cliff. There are people there at all hours during the day, and this is a popular photo and picnic spot.

Austin Scenic Outlook Lou Neff Point

Lou Neff Point
Hike and Bike Trail at the Corner of Zilker Park (see map)

If you are running the loop on the hike and bike trail, Lou Neff point is an awesome place for a break. Here, you can see the entire skyline from across the lake, there is ample seating, and you can watch the kayaks and canoes row by.

Sunset is particularly beautiful here, as shown in the picture above. If you just want to go to the point without walking the trail, If you park in the back right corner of the Zilker great lawn on Lou Neff Road, it’s only a 1 minute walk down the large stone steps to get to the point.

Lake Austin view from Mount Bonnell - where the rich in Austin live
Mount Bonnell Park
3800 Mount Bonnell Drive

From atop Mount Bonnell, you can see an amazing view of the lake all the way to the Pennybacker Bridge and the mansions that back right up to the water (boat docks and all). Because of this, the park has become a favorite spot for families, those who want to just sit on the cliff and relax, and couples on a date.

There are two entrances, one up a steep flight of stairs, and one up a gentle hill. The edge of the hill slop provides the best view, and is a great place to relax, read a book, or take a picture.

Map of Texas on Doug Sahm Hill in Butler Park by Ranger Excavating, next to the Liz Carpenter Fountain - Austin, Texas
Doug Sahm Hill
Riverside Drive

Located right next to the Palmer Events Center, Doug Sahm Hill comes complete with a huge map of Texas and a cool circular bench where you can sit and watch the skyline. Perhaps the best time to climb the hill is right before sunset, for the most beautiful view of downtown.

Just below the hill is the Liz Carpenter Fountain, kids play freely in during the hot summer days. At night the fountain’s LEDs provide a beautiful light show.

Sunset on Lake Travis at the Oasis and Soleil Restaurants - AKA Sunset Capital of Texas
The Oasis
6550 Comanche Trl

The so called Sunset Capital of Texas – an amazing view of Lake Travis attached to a gigantic restaurant that’s a great place to grab a drink with visiting friends. This is part of the standard tour for many.

Although food at the Oasis is not so great, two new restaurants next door, Soleil and Uncle Billy’s, come with the promise of the same great view with better food.

Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge - Monarch Condo - Towne Lake - Austin, TX
Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge
Lamar and Riverside Dr

The Pfluger Pedestrian bridge is frequented by joggers and bikers, but there’s a great large sitting area right in the middle, complete with park benches and beautiful landscaping. It’s easy to just relax there for hours, watching boats on the lake, cars on the Lamar Bridge, and people move by.

Also, you get a great view of downtown as well as some of the coolest grafitti downtown, that reminds you to take a deep breath and relax.

Zilker Park Downtown view from the Great Lawn in Austin, Texas - soccer players
The Great Lawn
Zilker Park

The Great Lawn is huge piece of green that’s a great place to have a picnic, play some soccer, or fly a kite that also happens to have an amazing view of the skyline. Large trees and a granite outcrop on the lawn serve as a great spot to cool off on hot summer days.

Perhaps the most famous use for the Zilker Great lawn is serving as the home of the Austin City Limits Music Festival. The lawn is also the site of the Zilker Kite Festival and a great place to watch fireworks on the 4th of July.