If you haven’t heard of Aaron Draplin, you’ve certainly seen his work. Esquire. Field Notes. Burton Snowboards. Obama. He’s loud, he’s proud and he knows a thing or two about kicking ass. On Wednesday evening, we were lucky to get the guy back in Minneapolis for one night for our ongoing speaker series on design, to talk about pretty much everything — from creative process to his carnival days.
Below we share a few of the best, big-hearted things he had to say during his interview at our Kick Ass bar with Little’s President Joe Cecere.
[on why he does what he does] “I didn’t want to make graphic design or logos for only people who could afford them.”
[on when a project falls flat] “I’ve donated stuff I’ve designed that didn’t sell. It’s still a win to me… It’s never about the bottom line. There’s never a fear element of if this doesn’t go, we’re in trouble. That’s where Field Notes came from. And now it’s a real thing.”
[on if he’s worried that graphic designers aren’t getting their hands dirty enough] “You’re not. But there’s ways of doing it. It’s neat; it’s called pen on ink. And once a year I try to fix something small around the house like fix a little shelf.”
[on getting started as a designer] “How do you get a portfolio going if you don’t have a client? And how do you get a client if you don’t have a portfolio? You just make it up.”
[on today’s world of design] “If someone can make nice design at some restaurant where things are changing; and the neighborhood is moving, growing and breathing. That’s incredible.”
[on working with others with a different point of view] “Do the things your mom and dad taught you. Listen. Take notes. Hear someone out. Always say “Thank you”. Use their first name. If you reply all and don’t put all 19 names in the list, I kind of feel a little bad for you because shit’s going too quick. Take the time to put their names.”
[on working with tough customers] “Make them love you.”
Well, Aaron, after last night we love you a whole lot more. And you’re welcome to stop by Little anytime you’re in town.