Aaron James Draplin – “Tall Tales From A Large Man”

It is hard to sum up the experience that is Aaron James Draplin. Where to start? Draplin commands the attention of the audience with bold slides including an official DDC disclaimer and a fair warning to coders that his presentation will not include any sort of code languages. He establishes his presence on stage with seemingly appropriate vulgarity mixed in with motivational statements. Regardless of what the audience thinks, he explains that he probably shouldn’t be up on stage since he lacks credentials or professional accolades.

As he quickly moves on, slides of a hilarious history of his family hair styles and the divide between the cool kids and the not-so-cool kids. He eludes to being part of the latter group and describes his snowboarding passions which led to his first snowboard graphic which was in “5 dpi”.

Photo by: Amber Gregory

The outlandish and appreciated humor continues as he continues to take the audience through his accomplishments of purchasing a house, an adorable wiener dog named Gary, and the beginning of DDC. He displayed various works he has done in the past matched with eclectic music which adds to the inspirational atmosphere. The importance of not using money as a motivation to design is apparent as he describes the effect his work had on a logo he created for a friend’s business, “Cobra Dog.” The power that individuals have to influence and help others carries further than any financially fueled identity.

Aaron Draplin

Aaron James Draplin

Graphic Designer, Draplin Design Co. (Portland)

Located in the mighty Pacific Northwest, the Draplin Design Co. proudly rolls up its sleeves on projects related to the Print, Identity and Illustration categories. We’ve traveled the world telling our story, with over 350 speaking fiascos to date! We co-created Field Notes, which are sold in over 2,000 stores worldwide. Our first book titled "Pretty Much Everything" came out on May 17, 2016, and is in its sixth printing!

He innovated the design and creation of Field Notes since he couldn’t find something similar to which he liked. He has invented his client and how the brand has evolved over the years. A sentimental touch was added when he described that he was able to take his parents out to buy a car because of this success. He continued to promote the idea that you can “invent this stuff yourself.”

San Francisco is challenged by Draplin to “get out there and get dirty”.

Instead of going to wine tasting he recommended junking in little places and basements. He feels that design is so nimble and appreciates the contrast of how design was back in the day before computers where it was a physical and tangible profession. He emphasizes he doesn’t want the idea of design to die and to quit taking pictures of coffee.

What’s next for DDC? Draplin quickly goes through bumper stickers for his dad, a logo for a bike company, a Sasquatch concert poster, hats, and space shuttle graphics. Also, if you didn’t know, some of the things he loves are his family, America, sweatpants. Some of the things he hates: Kid Rock, sandals at a wedding, prime mark abuse and stacked food.

He concludes with encouraging the crowd to work hard and “say yes a little more than you say no” and “do good work for good people.”

Text — Noelle Germone — @ngermone