In Episode #34, Ross sits down with Aaron Draplin, founder of Draplin Design Co. and co-founder of Field Notes.
Aaron started Draplin Design Co. in 2004 and hasn’t looked back since. His clients have included Nike, Burton Snowboards, Esquire, Red Wing, Ford Motor Company and the Obama Administration to name a few.
Ross and Aaron chat about why he started Draplin Design Co., how design can help the underdogs win, and making sure you have fun doing it.
Highlights from the conversation
I like the idea that a couple moves from me help fuck with the people who had 100 moves to make
Man, I’m just going to have fun with this. I’m not going to worry about what is and isn’t the right thing to you know, to get me into the cool room. I’m just gonna do it
If you’re just starting out, it’s about knowing how to play the deck of cards, when to play them, how to enjoy them, and how to make this stuff fun
You look at a brand, you want to trust it, and you want to believe in it. And you don’t want them to let you down. If they make lots of profit, a little profit, I don’t really care. This helps me make my life better.
Brands can just be decent humans, and companies can be decent humans and they can just treat humans the way they want to be treated. That makes for a better world, a better experience, more loyal customers, and, in the long run, more money.
Slow and steady wins the race and also feeds the soul
More about Aaron
Bred from the loins of the proud Midwest, this little fucker was squeezed out in Detroit, in the year 1973 to the proud parents of Jim and Lauren Draplin. Growing up on a steady stream of Lego, Star Wars, family trips, little sisters, summer beach fun, stitches, fall foliage, drawing, skateboarding and snowboarding, at 19 he moved west to Bend, Oregon to hit jumps “Out West.” His career started with a snowboard graphic for Solid snowboards and took off like wildfire soon after.
In April 2000, much to the chagrin of his proud Midwestern roots, he accepted an ill-fated art director position with SNOWBOARDER magazine. He won “Art Director of the Year” for Primedia 2000, beating out such titles as Gun Dog, Cat Fancy and Teen. No other awards were bestowed in this period, and like he gives a rat’s ass.
Thankfully, in April 2002, the Cinco Design Office of Portland, Oregon called up and offered a Senior Designer gig which he instantly accepted and rolled up his sleeves to work on the Gravis, Helly Hansen and Nixon accounts.
The Draplin Design Co. finally stepped out on its own four hairy feet in the fall of 2004. All these years, he’s proud to report that he’s managed to “keep everything out of the red.” He rolls up his sleeves for Coal Headwear, Cobra Dogs, Nixon Watches, Bernie Sanders, Patagonia, Target, Chris Stapleton, NASA/JPL, John Hodgman, Ford Motor Company, Woolrich and even the Obama Administration, if you can believe that.
He’s been fiercely independent since 2004, and isn’t going back anytime soon. He lives and works out of a backyard shop in an undisclosed location on the mean streets of Portland, Oregon.