Aaron Draplin is Wicked Awesome

Written by in Profiles

First things first: The Beast adores his mom and dad. He might be a expletive spewing Yukon Cornelius, but the guy is a sensitve beast. On Draplin’s website is the latest interview from The Great Discontent where Draplin lays it out. This has to be one of the funniest, most candid, most French-filled-on-the record-sober-interview of an American designer EVAH! Heck Yeah, Beasts!  HOWites are gonna love this beast!

People talk about taking risk but they rarely do. Risk costs you something.  This interview will cost Draplin something —most likely something he can afford to give up ± such as fawning clients, David Carson’s annual eligible Christmas card and any HOW Conference goer who fails to buy a DDC “Wicked Boston” poster [printed on “wicked” Neenah Paper, thank you.]


Neenah Exhibit Schedule Poster Series Artist Schedules

  Saturday, June 23 12:00-2:00

 12:00-1:00 Aaron Draplin

 1:00-2:00 Justin Ahrens

 Saturday, June 23 5:00-6:30

 5:00 – 6:00 Mikey Burton

  Sunday, June 24 12:00-2:00

 12:00- 1:00 Von Glitschka

 2:00- 1:00 Kody Chamberlain

With GRATITUDE to The Great Discontent (created by Ryan Essmaker and Tina Essmaker) for sharing their interview with Draplin, I crib enthusiastically, and then invite HOW Design Live conference goers to come down to the Neenah Paper booth on Saturday at noon to learn French from Aaron and get one of 100 free signed posters. If you are a die-hard “Wicked Boston” poster fan, read Draplin’s full-throated shill response to the Boston History Primer Quiz. And be prepared to spew some chowdah at his answers…

Apropos of Nothing…

“What a [French’n] wreck the mid-’90s were with this discombobulated, puked-out David Carson garbage. Design had to go there and there was a method to it, but I was more interested in the grid. I was interested in the strength of one font—Helvetica—across the board.”

On his path to becoming a professional graphic designer…

“In the summer of ’96, I went to Alaska for the first time and spent the summer there washing dishes. I brought $10,000 back to [Bend] Oregon and spent all my money to buy a computer that fall. Suddenly, I was a designer. It opened a couple more doors for me in that little town. I finally had a sense that I could make a living and didn’t have to work at pizza places or take a futon logo and transfer it to someone’s banner. I mean, I was lettering chalkboards and [French]. I could make logos now, right? … I did that for a few years while [Frenching] around in Bend, OR, but there was a bubble—it’s a small ski town. So, I applied to art school and went to Minneapolis and got a big art and design degree. It was a big deal that I even got myself in. It’s art school; those are smart kids with big talent, right? What a bunch of bull-[French].”

On the moment he realized that he had the goods to become a graphic designer…

“Remember those tests they give you in high school? It was like, okay, ‘In the state of Michigan, Aaron Draplin, based on your height, weight, IQ, and shoe size, you are destined to…pick up trash on I–75.’ Or whatever the [French] it said… There was something about commercial art that was pragmatic; it was different than me trying to sell [French] at an art fair. Commercial art made sense. It’s the things that we need to live and there’s a beauty in that stuff.

Who killed Downtown Chicken? Let’s put it this way:

She shoulda boughta  DDC “Wicked Boston” Poster.

Vital Statistics

Name of Studio: Draplin Design Co., North America

Name of Wife: Leigh McKolay, lover of children, poetry, birthdays, the outdoors, JFK-ism and music you can dance to.

Neighborhood You Live In: The mean streets of “Rose City Park” in Portland, Ore [where successful, beautiful, young breeding people are] washing Volvos and running with babies in those little beefy stroller things.

Kids, Number and Names: My seed has yet to find purchase in the fertile soil of motherhood, but I do have hope. Leigh’s got a 12-year-old named “Ewok” so, hell, he’s been a good primer into that whole mystery.

Passions Beyond Work: Junkin’, cashing cheques, collecting records, playing records, playing guitar, steppin’ on pedals, seeing America by car, eating, sleeping, collecting Legos, rolling around with my nephew Oliver, relaxing with Leigh and a couple other passionate things.

Name of Beloved Pets: Gary Longfellow Draplin, 2004-2010, may he rest in peace, or, whip through the cosmos from dust cloud to dust cloud, humping the heavens…

Favorite Red Sock: Bill Buckner, forever! Cut the guy some slack, Boston. We’re human. He’s human. People make mistakes and Bill’s got a sweet mustache, so, love him with all you have. If these words don’t make sense, Google the guy, and keep that big mind of yer way open.

Aaron’s Boston History Primer Quiz: Grade: A ++

1) Which historic water hole is highest up on your list?

My mouth. Is that historic enough? Not really, right? Said mouth will be busy making friends the whole time I’m on the ground in Boston. Doing things like:  01. Talkin’ [French]. Example: “Sup, Chowdaheads?” 02. Asking for directions. 03. Hawking the DDC “Wicked Boston” poster. Buy one, HOW people.

2) Did you know about Boston’s tourist clogged Freedom Trail? Where does Freedom begin and end in Boston?

It starts in whatever flophouse room HOW’s got me in ‘cuz when I leave that room each morning, I am going to feel free as hell, thanks to Bostonian spirit from the old days, and hell, even today. Thanks, Boston. I’ll be looking for that plaque around town. I’ve got it on the DDC “Wicked Boston” poster, for quick reference.

3) Did you grow up enjoying the sermons of Cotton Mather or his fun loving pop, Increase Mather? When do you feel like a Puritan?

I didn’t, and don’t quite follow you. I do know this: That Masspike logo is a puritan/pilgrim hat, and it’s incredible, and we’ve got it displayed loud and proud on our DDC “Wicked Boston” poster!

4) Who is your favorite Boston born world action hero?  Choose anyone between William Bradford and Matt Damon but not Ben Affleck because I cannot stand him and I will not call positive attention to his name.

I love Barney Frank, and holy [French], I left him out of the DDC “Wicked Boston” poster! Bummed. His voice, his boldness and his stance on the most basic of human rights will forever have my vote. Hell yeah, Barney Frank!

5) If some guy walked up to you in Boston and said, ‘You look like a good coxswain. Care to get inside my scull and take a ride?’ Would you slug them?

I’d look him in the eye and say, “Buddy, I don’t know what the hell you are saying, and nor do I care what time machine brought you here, and, I certainly don’t care what neighborhood you come from here in Boston. Just buy a DDC “Wicked Boston”, and all’s good, okay?”  That’s what I would say. There you go.

6) How many lanterns were hung in the North Church steeple on the famous night of the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere?

“One if by land, two if by sea.” I’m betting one. This is in the DDC “Wicked Boston” poster.

7) Will you get arrested giving John Harvard a lap dance while visiting the city?

Who are you? I’ve heard there’s a lot “hookin’ up” at these [Frenching]’ HOW conferences, but wow. Get nasty, Porter! I’m betting this is a “yes” cuz those Boston pigs love to mix it up with their citizens. Brutes.

8) If you can guess the meaning of at least three of the following expressions, Neenah will buy you a hoodsie at the packie on the Fenway.

a. Ghoulstickah

This translates into a tightly rolled-up DDC “Wicked Boston” poster. Doubles as a weapon in some neighborhoods.

b. Stylene

Colonial term for “checking inks” on the DDC “Wicked Boston” poster.

c. Take a Dudley

The act of buying a DDC “Wicked Boston” poster.

d. Dungahs/Dungies

Those fine conference goers who purchased a “DDC “Wicked Boston” poster.”

e. Bubbla

A designer who won’t shut up about that DDC “Wicked Boston” poster he snagged at Boston-only prices.

f. Potty platta

When you get in an argument over what did and didn’t go into the DDC “Wicked Boston” poster.

g. Triple Eagle

This is an easy one. This is when you buy three DDC “Wicked Boston” posters, and put the first one up in whatever Southie hellhole apartment you call home, then put the second up at your place of employment and then with the third one, you get a Boston Terrier pup, and line their crate with it.

Come to the Neenah Booth Saturday at Noon and get a Free One.
  1. 06
    Bill Weye said:

    “Favorite Red Sock” – WHAT?!

    You’re not serious, are you? The ballpark has only been around for 100 years, and the team 112 years …. it’s Red SOX. Absolutely NEVER “Sock”. You’re welcome.

  2. 07
    Kelly Blackwell said:

    Aaron’s talk was my absolute favorite. And yes, I bought a wicked DDC Bos poster and had him sign it. Much love!

  3. 07
    Neenah Paper said:

    He is one funny dude. I never laughed so hard at HOW.

  4. 08

    […] Aaron Draplin at HOW Live recently (he also signed some super “Wicked Boston” posters while there) made me remember his [NSFW] video talking about an experience he had […]

  5. 08

    […] in Italy and still has his accent [Massimo Vignelli]. North American is represented by  Aaron [The Beast] Draplin from Portland plus others from New York and Los Angeles will round out the presentation […]