Getting back to design basics with Aaron Draplin
December 28, 2014 1:50 PM   Subscribe

Aaron Draplin of Draplin Design Co. (previously, twice, thrice) takes on a logo design challenge, describing how he goes about creating enduring designs. If you enjoyed Aaron and his style (bigger image), you can take a tour of his well-organized junk and join him as he scours an estate sale for more inspiration, and continue with him as he discusses the art of the side hustle, specifically Field Notes (previously; history). Or if you'd prefer design tips, Aaron talks about workflow, moving efficiently, and how to make a laurel. But wait, there's more! Aaron also presented at TEDxPortland, discussing work ethics and giving back, and extends on some of those topics in this 22 minute interview. Getting back to the art of things, Aaron talks on logo design the Draplin way, and Aaron Draplin's favorite signs. Warning: obscene language abounds, may not be workplace appropriate.
posted by filthy light thief (16 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Shapes of states are "enduring designs"?
posted by Ideefixe at 2:20 PM on December 28, 2014

Aaron Draplin Can Do No Wrong.
posted by slater at 3:08 PM on December 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have big respect for this guy. His TED talk video is a must-view. His views on logo design are so much like mine it's uncanny. ( I ran a one-man design company for five years and just recently went back to the corporate world. I can't say I miss the hustle that self-employment is, but I do miss the design process. It's heartening - and extra plus points - to see that his Illustrator workflow is exactly like mine.)

Thanks for the links.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:13 PM on December 28, 2014

great stuff
posted by greenhornet at 3:27 PM on December 28, 2014

Thanks for this, lots here to enjoy.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 4:19 PM on December 28, 2014

Shapes of states are "enduring designs"?

posted by robcorr at 4:21 PM on December 28, 2014

His flickr gallery hasn't been updated in awhile, but when it was it was a generous portion of it was shots of well-designed items found at the yearly The World's Longest Yard Sale.

Also there was supposed to be some longish documentary coming out awhile ago but I guess that fell through or I misunderstood a teaser video ...
posted by user92371 at 5:09 PM on December 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

He's the Jason Jesse of graphic design, at least for me.
posted by Divest_Abstraction at 6:13 PM on December 28, 2014

Great post! I'm a huge fan of of Aaron's (disclaimer: he's an acquaintance of mine). I didn't know he did a TED talk, so I'm looking forward to watch that. I have no idea how he's able to do all the stuff he does. He's got an incredible work ethic, and I'd love to see a TV show featuring him and Mike Rowe (producers in the audience: you owe me royalties if this idea is a hit!). If you have a chance to see one of Aaron's talks or talk to him in person, do it. He's incredibly funny, and inspiring/motivating, too. A Super nice guy, as well.
posted by jonathanhughes at 6:45 PM on December 28, 2014

I saw him give a talk recently and I liked a lot of what he had to say but I really did not get off on how he said it. The rock star silliness, the energy he puts into the persona, the inauthenticity, etc. just really put me off. I guess it's a thing, but a raging populist thing ("I like these kinds of dogs! Let's give it up for these kinds of dogs, motherfuckers!") and it seems like it gets in the way of what he has to say. Maybe he's not always like that, but I just took away the idea that the best thing he ever designed was Draplin.
posted by stevil at 8:57 PM on December 28, 2014

see what minorly annoyed me was the rhetoric of nostalgia and authenticity, i think that he is a great designer, but acknowledge the game yr playing.
posted by PinkMoose at 10:19 PM on December 28, 2014

Also there was supposed to be some longish documentary coming out awhile ago but I guess that fell through or I misunderstood a teaser video ...

World's Longest Yard Sale: Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Bonus Scraps
posted by PenDevil at 11:54 PM on December 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Generally I think I would agree with you PinkMoose but with Draplin...I don't know. I've been following his blog for about 6 years now and I think he's just way too earnest and passionate about the "nostalgia and authenticity" for it to be an actual game for him. He seriously dorks out about the most random things.

I'm not a professional designer by any stretch but I certainly get my fair share of design work (mostly volunteer stuff for friends/family/community groups/etc) and I've been heavily influenced by Draplin's output and design philosophy. It's even extended into some of my day-job stuff...whenever I need to put together an infographic or some powerpoint slides I simultaneously invoke the spirits of Tufte and Draplin...and it's sort of amazing how often people are all "like WHOA how-what-software-did-you-use to make that amazing infograph!? Everything is so clear and easy to understand so amazeballs" and I'm like *shrug* IT'S JUST WHAT I DOES

This video was really fun. Great to see him go through his process, very inspiring and interesting (and nice to see he's still a mere mortal with the Illustrator stylin').

On a side note: It's stupid how many Field Notes I've purchased over the years...but dammit I just love those little notebooks SO HARD

Some of the Colors editions have turned out to be really great gifts for friends and relations. Last year I gave the Cherry Wood versions to my brother-in-law who happens to be majorly into woodworking. Couldn't have found a better gift for the guy if I'd searched the whole year.

posted by Doleful Creature at 11:57 PM on December 28, 2014

Draplin may be many things, but inauthentic isn't one of them. You may not like the stuff he designs (although if you look at his portfolio, you'll see a wide range of stuff that falls well outside the "retro" stuff he's known for), or the language he uses (which is just as "salty" off stage as it is on), but what you see is what you get — none of it is for show.
posted by jonathanhughes at 7:00 AM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

When I first saw Aaron's design challenge, I had a snarky thought about how Draplin is the most stereotypical-looking Portland designer, something akin to the critiques written above - he can't be this authentically stoked on old designs. But he grew on me, so I was going to give him the benefit of the doubt. Then I lost all doubt when he waxed eloquently about a train logo, specifically Alan Fleming's CN logo from 1960.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:43 AM on December 30, 2014

Thanks for posting! I am not a design person and had never heard of him, but this intro was just a great way to reboot in anticipation of the new year. Draplin's enthusiasm, aesthetics and articulateness (light cussin' included) manage to be both grounding and inspirational at the same time. (Plus it made me really miss Portland.)
posted by mmiddle at 7:40 AM on December 30, 2014

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