Event Recap

AIGA/NY Aaron Draplin: Tall Tales from a Large Man

On Wednesday, April 27, 2016, Aaron Draplin gave his 226th live performance (yes, performance—Aaron Draplin is not just a speaker, he is an entertainer) to a sold-out audience at the AIGA/NY Tall Tales from A Large Man at The New School auditorium. The audience was treated to an all new presentation titled, The Harrowing Account of Making a Book” or Getting the Call Up to the Big Leagues or We Got a Book Deal, in which Draplin shared the behind-the-scenes story of how his new book, Pretty Much Everything, conceived, designed and produced in conjunction with Abrams Books.

Draplin began his talk with a video montage of his work set to a classic rock song, “Ace of Spades” by Motörhead. A fitting preface to the evening, the video was fast, fun, and full of thick line illustrations. As the lights came back up, Draplin began his rapid-fire presentation by recounting his first conversations with the publishing team at Abrams Books, and his gratitude for being selected to have a book made about his own work. The development of the book began in November of 2014, and by the Fall of 2015 Draplin had spent roughly 70 days straight working from 8am to 3am to do the research, design and layout for his book. After profusely thanking his long-time girlfriend for putting up with being part of the whirlwind, Draplin shared some lessons he learned along the way.

AIGA/NY Aaron Draplin: Tall Tales from a Large Man

Making a book is intense
Trust your Editors
Back your shit up along the way (Draplin explained an incident in which some files that the publisher had been working on were accidentally deleted, but thankfully Draplin’s own personal backup files were able to prevent any major problems)
Be smart with your files (Draplin proudly described his Illustrator files and how he delivered them to the publisher “clean and ready to go”)
The greatest opportunity I’ve ever had offered to me

Draplin jumped from project to project, sharing random anecdotes about some of his favorite projects. Even in a filled to capacity theater, there was a sense of intimacy and friendship that wove itself through the entire evening.

AIGA/NY Aaron Draplin: Tall Tales from a Large Man

Draplin shared some of the omissions from the book, which focused on “setting the record straight on trolls, haters, rip-off designs and prick grad students.” In fact, Draplin spoke many times throughout the evening about “Yale design graduates with $180,000 in debt making websites to sell shoes.” After many not-so-subtle jabs at this contingency of designers, Draplin elaborated on his distaste for Ivy-League educated designers. He explained that while he has a tremendous amount of respect for Yale and every other design school, he can’t comprehend why kids would spend enormous amounts of money to get bachelor, masters, or even PhD degrees in design, and then upon graduation spend even a moment’s worth of energy by publicly deriding his work. He concluded his explanation with an honest appeal to all of the “haters” with a simple statement of “Just get to work.”

Draplin concluded his talk by sharing more stories of projects he worked on including the “greatest logo I ever designed” for Action Cap followed by the winding and at times convoluted story behind the DDC trucker-style hats. “They need to have the right sprinkle of shitty,” he said, a logo for the Space Shuttle simply because “I missed it,” and a logo for the sun, because “if you’re gonna design a logo, might as well just go big.”

Draplin will be supporting his new book with a nation-wide book tour in the fall, his book, Pretty Much Everything is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Special thanks to contributing writer Christopher Holewski for the AIGA/NY Tall Tales from A Large Man event recap and photos. Christopher Holewski is an Art Director at JK Design and can be found at behance.net/cholewski

Event Information

Using scientific proof and state-of-the-art multimedia techniques, Aaron James Draplin of the Draplin Design Co. delivers a suckerpunch of a talk that aims to provide bonafide proof of work, the highs and lows of a ferociously independent existence and a couple tall tales from his so-called career in the cutthroat world of contemporary graphic design. Just a regular guy with a trajectory a little dirtier than yours, his talk is open to all oncomers brave enough to show up. If you are a youngster, you may find yourself inspired to attack your design future in a different way. If you are established, you may just leave feeling grateful you don’t have anything to do with him. Hard to say. Be there!

After the event you are invited to join Aaron for a reception and book signing of advanced copies of his Draplin Design Co.: Pretty Much Everything book in The Atrium.

Book will be available for purchase at the event. 

Located in the mighty Pacific Northwest, the Draplin Design Co. proudly rolls up its sleeves on a number of projects related to the Print, Identity and Illustration categories. We make stuff for Field Notes, Coal Headwear, Union Binding Co., Richmond Fontaine, Esquire, Nike, Old 97s, Wired, Dinosaur Jr, Timberline, Chunklet, Eaux Claires, Poler, Incase, Giro, Cobra Dogs, Burton Snowboards, Rhett Miller, Nixon Watches, Patagonia, Target, Megafaun, Danava, Ford Motor Company, Woolrich and even the Obama Administration, if you can believe that. We pride ourselves on a high level of craftsmanship and quality that keeps us up late into the wet Portland night.

Our Proud List of Services: Graphic Design, Illustration, Friendship, Clipping Pathery, Garying, Jokes/Laughter, Campfire Strummin’, Gocco Dynamics, Road Trip Navigation, Trust, Guitar Tuning, Gen’l Conversation, Culture Critique, Color Correcting, Existential Wondering, Bounty Hunting, Heavy Lifting, Advice, A Warm Meal, Simple Ideas and Occasional Usage of Big Words.