Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tall Tales from a Large Man.

"I love Futura Bold. It's the workin' man's font." - Mr. Draplin

Another stellar AIGA event goes down in the books. Tonight I headed back downtown to The Cleaners at Ace Hotel for 'Tall Tales from a Large Man'. The large man was Aaron James Draplin of Draplin Design Company. (He also created Field Notes - so we all got a complimentary Field Notes Memo Book. Score.)

This large designer's work is larger than life, but he is endearing. Humble. Honest. Like a kid I might have gone to summer camp with back in the Midwest. I guess that makes sense since he grew up in the Midwest, too. Michigan, to be exact. He told us about all of it. All the way back to his childhood in the mitten-shaped state. Including childhood photos. No one with an ounce of ego would do something like that. This lack of ego is what made the entire evening so enjoyable, I think.

He shared a story about how 'Farmer John' in Iowa contacted him about doing a logo for his family farm. Since Aaron isn't too good for any sort of job, he took it on. Through the process he discovered that 'Farmer John' wasn't just any Farmer John. He was Farmer John Hughes. Yes, John Hughes. The prolific writer, director and producer of so many movies that constituted so much of our quality entertainment in the 80's and 90's. Even once this discovery was made Aaron continued business as usual. Not charging a penny more and working even harder as it was such an honor to work for this particular 'Farmer John'.

Just as the Midwest oozes from Aaron, so does his fierce loyalty to solid design, serious work ethic and a commitment to be an entrepreneur who actually makes a difference in the world. He likes to design stuff that "looks like you might have found it in a junk drawer at your parents' house".  He has an obsession with Futura Bold. He hates Kid Rock, sandals at weddings, bad signage, Toby Keith, loud cell phone people, Guy Fieri, and pineapple. Among other things.

Thank you AIGA and thank you Aaron. I heart my memo book, I heart all of the tall tales and I, too, hate sandals at weddings.

See Aaron's post about the surreal evening here. Watch for other AIGA Designspeaks events in 2010.


  1. That event was just what I needed to inspire me and get serious about design. Good summary!

  2. I know. For real. I think I had to turn the light on and pull out my pen and paper like SIX times to jot random ideas and thoughts down after I went to bed last night. He totally inspired me, too.