On the Road with Aaron Draplin

Leading up to our LogoLounge Book 10 Call for Entries deadline February 28, we will be spotlighting members of the most eminent panel of jurors that we’ve ever had!

Aaron Draplin

Aaron Draplin needs no fancy introduction in this part of the logo hemisphere. He has rocked the design world in the last year, surprising even skeptics, with his bestselling book Pretty Much Everything, which details his work and reveals much about himself--the man behind the big beard.

As a judge for this year’s LogoLounge competition, we wanted to catch up with him and get the highs and lows of his whirlwind book tour last fall, in which he visited 24 cities in seven weeks. And he’s going to do it all over this spring.

Orange Van
Aaron Draplin and his girlfriend Leigh traveled the country in this orange van.

Give me a little background on this whirlwind tour … was it all for the book?

For the book…and for SURVIVAL. Well, mainly the book. Do graphic designers go on book tours? They do now. I wanted to take the whole story of the book to the people. I mean, why not? The book wasn’t supposed to happen in the first place, so why not tack on a 34-show, 7-week tour to the whole mess? And we did it, and, pulled it off with flying colors. All in an orange van. So proud of the whole thing.

When did you find time to actually work?

I didn’t have a lot of projects going on the tour. That freed up my nights. But when things popped up, I’d just work late in the hotel room. Or get up early and do a morning shift before we got rolling. Wherever you can find the time, you know? Might be at lunch, with my laptop open in some restaurant, suckin’ off their Wi-Fi to send a file. 


Are you at all surprised by your design “celebrity” status?

I don’t know. I mean, I just don’t look at this stuff like this. When people stop me in public, I always think it’s one of those, “Hey, you dropped something…” sort of moments where complete strangers interact with each other. It’s happening more and more, and I’m cool with it! If someone digs my stuff enough to stop me, then cool. I do the same stuff with rockers or whoever. To have some kid in front of you, hands shaking, so nervous … it’s so touching. I know how to calm folks down now. 

It’s funny, because I noticed at the HOW Conference that there were a lot of guys emulating you/your style—big beards, big hats, flannel shirts, etc. Do you think that’s a coincidence or are you a reluctant trendsetter?

Didn’t really notice. Beards come and go in fashion. I wear a beard because I don’t want to shave. I wear a hat to keep my rat’s nest hair in line.  I wear sweatpants when I don’t want to wear jeans. No other real reason. Function first. Fashionable? Hardly. But when I think about it, I’d just hope folks are comfortable. That’s all I’d ask for. Here in Portland, I’ll go to design event and folks will be dressed up like bikers and shit. Real hard scrabble-looking. Tats, cut-off jean jackets and big boots…and hell, they code websites for a living by day. Ha. But, what you gonna do? A flannel, shit beard and beat-up farmer cap do the job for me.

What was the best thing you ate in your travels? Worst?

Eating is weird on the road. I mean, I love some low-brow chow and all, but man, it gets old, quick. After a long day of driving, you just sort of throw the towel in and hit some fast food joint. Leigh, my girlfriend, would do her best to make the meal as healthy as possible, with salads and stuff. I’d cave in and get a burger. Best thing I ate? Fried chicken in Memphis. Tacos in El Paso. Jambalaya in New Orleans.

Place you had the most fun and why?

We had a really nice day off in New Orleans. Got massaged, ate some good meals, walked around a bunch. We tried to do a couple days in Vegas, but got so swarmed by the maze-like parking and general pain-in-the-ass of getting around that town, and we just sort of lost it and left. We made it an hour away to the Nevada/California state line, to a place called Buffalo Bill’s, just across the way from Whiskey Pete’s. Both are falling apart and hanging on by a thread. Played some roulette, slept, ate sketchy meals in the various restaurants in the casino. Had a great time lurking around the place for a long day. And damn, I love Vegas. Hitting that “34” on roulette? Cosmic!

Do you ever meet anyone you don’t like?

Here’s a fun question. Sure, of course. Just last week at the Portland Bazaar, a woman made some snarky comment about my booth not having the “heart inside an Oregon shape” she was looking for. Now, everyone has that stupid sticker on their stuff. Same old shit. And when she said it, looking through my lovingly-crafted assortment of goods, I got miffed and turned on her. “We don’t have that one. But what we do have here are things you won’t see in other places, done right, printed right, made by people who do their own thing. But then again, maybe you aren’t interested in that.” And I embarrassed her. She was some turd from the suburbs, anyway. People who dig my stuff, they are always so complimentary and get how hard it is to make it, and, offer it up and mellow prices. And this gal, she was just another forgettable person, looking for the forgettable stuff people always forget about. I already forgot her face. 

Where are you headed this year?

I’m currently scheming up shows in the Rust Belt, New England, Eastern Seaboard, and down to Florida, and then back to Oregon. For March and April! Want us to come to your town? Find me and let’s talk!

To see more of Draplin’s work, visit his LogoLounge profile here. Want to be a part of the most respected logo design competitions around the globe? Submit your work today! Your membership with LogoLounge.com gives you unlimited uploads, which means you have unlimited chances to be published.

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