“Work Hard. Do Good Work for Good People.”
Pretty much everything
If there’s one thing Aaron Draplin isn’t, it’s subtle. Devoid of pretense or any sense of superiority, he brings a bold, vintage approach to design. In a world increasingly focused on depth and context, Draplin continues to hush his critics by creating powerful identities for satisfied customers. His work is genuine and made with pride. He creates marks that are simple, strong and meant to stand the test of time. They echo the artifacts and identities of an older America he passionately seeks out at flea markets and yard sales. A Portland, Oregon resident, Draplin has grown himself and his brand into a ‘national treasure’. If there’s one thing he knows how to do, it’s making the most of what he has. The Draplin Design Co.’s motto is: “Work Hard. Do Good Work for Good People.” From branding and logos to posters, pins and loads of what he calls “cosmic” merchandise, Draplin’s approach to design is clear, consistent and utilitarian, something he has communicated in his new 253-page book ‘Pretty Much Everything’.
Last week, in association with the AIGA, Draplin talked about pretty much everything in a brutally honest, humorous, jam-packed hour at Parsons. In keeping with his larger-than-life personality, he isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Hell, once Draplin even rebranded the sun. As he put it: “Why not? Go big or go home, right?” Whether it’s about his projects, his haters on the Internet or his family, he puts it all out there. I couldn’t stop laughing at how he described how some MFA grad students have wanted to have his head for his layouts.
Hell, once Draplin even rebranded the sun. As he put it: “Why not? Go big or go home, right?”
Draplin’s book is filled with generous helpings of design processes and words of wisdom. It tracks how he arrives at a final product, even those that didn’t make him a cent. Among the winners is the Field Notes project, probably his biggest success to date. He loves seeing people carry Field Notes around with them everywhere. One of the book’s treats is the inclusion of Draplin’s own, well-curated, knolled-out collection of personal Field Note sketchbooks. Each is personalized with an illustration or sticker slapped on the front. “If it sticks, and if it sticks good,” he says, “You better damn well know I’m going to stick it.”
His “Pretty Much Everything” talk was filled with everything from day-to-day do’s-and-don’ts to stories from the road. But looking back on the talk, Draplin was something much more to his audience of creatives, believers and doers: He was a life-coach. He gave us a crash course on entrepreneurship, the power of design and how to remain happily humble while busting your ass as a Graphic Designer. All I can say is you need to see this man in person to get the full experience.
Aaron Draplin is the perfect mix of talent, grit and passion.