The other night, I went out with my wife (on a date night, yippee!) to see a talk by legendary American graphic designer, Aaron Draplin. I first found out about him on Twitter. His name kept popping up in my Twitter feed. I knew nothing about him or why people were excited to go to his talks. Then the local chapter of the GDC (which I am STILL not a member of btw) announced that he was coming to Winnipeg. So I thought, what the heck? It was open to non-members to go, so I bought tickets to what would be my third GDC event in 20 years. I first went to a “Tales from the Darkside” event when I first graduated from design school, then I went to a joint GDC/Secret Handshake/New Media Manitoba Christmas party a few years ago. The GDC Manitoba chapter really knows how to draw outsiders in! Well… not really.
Anyways, back to my story…
I went into this not really knowing what to expect. Mr Draplin looks like a total redneck hillbilly, but his design aesthetic is fairly modern and hip, so I was intrigued. And since my wife is a photographer, I didn’t think she would be totally bored by what is basically an industry event for graphic designers.
The venue at the Park Theatre was sold out to a crowd of mostly younger designers. But I recognized a few old timers like myself among the crowd. Nice to see some of us are in it for the long haul. Dsigners stop designing and get real jobs far too often.
After a brief delay the show was on! His slogan was, “I swear, you’ll love it.” And swear he did. Actually, he didn’t swear that much really. I grew up with much, MUCH worse!
Turns out, Aaron Draplin was pretty cool. I had no idea he was involved in the creation of Field Notes notebooks. I bought a few packages of them last year for Christmas gits at a stationery supply store here in Winnipeg, called Tiny Feast. I blogged out it here. Field Notes books are very reasonably priced and come highly recommended on the interwebs.
Aaron Draplin also gave some good takeaway advice to desingers looking to make a living at graphic design. We say “no” far too often. When he went freelance, it sounds like he busted his ass taking on every job that came his way. And his generosity with his time and talent paid off in future dividens. Though he also admitted to quite a bit of luck to his success. It’s not every designer that has influential movie directors phone out of the blue to create logos for them!
The other take away from the talk was to break out and design cool things for ourselves. His success with his Field Notes and posters and other merchandise speak to that. I especially like the Canada poster he made. The small touches are hilarious! If any prints still exist later I might buy one for my future house (fingers crossed)!
So in the end, Mr. Draplin was an entertaining and energizing speaker and I would gladly see him speak again. Maybe I need to plan a family vacation to Portland, Oregon? I guess I had better pack enough food and be careful of where I go for rest stops.
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