Fifty-six. That’s the number of days Aaron Draplin, a 43-year-old graphic designer, had been on tour before coming to Bloomington for his new book, “Pretty Much Everything.”
About 50 people showed up to Draplin’s talk in the Global and International Studies Building, a last minute addition to his book tour. The event by the Graphic Design Club began with a lunch with Draplin, followed by a question-and-answer session, and ended with Draplin’s talk.
Draplin, from Portland, Oregon, is the owner of his own design company that began in 2004, Draplin Design Co., and has worked with companies like Nike, Patagonia and Target. He has even done work with the Obama administration.
“It exists that you can build something for yourself,” Draplin said about owning his own company. “It exists. I’m just proud to show this because it never felt like somewhere I had to be. It was somewhere I got to be.”
Bloomington was not originally a location that Draplin had planned on coming to during his tour. Marlo Owczarzak, senior and president of the Graphic Design Club at IU, said she emailed him and was able to schedule him to come talk to students.
“I can’t wait to add that I went here,” said Draplin, while jokingly pointing to Illinois on a map.
Draplin, sporting an orange and yellow hat he designed, said he began designing as something to do just for fun. Designing for him is not about a paycheck.
“I don’t know if you know about logos, but I joke, there’s a line from my talk where I say, ‘One of these was 25 grand and one was like, I got paid a burrito.’ I can’t remember prices,” Draplin said.
At 19, Draplin moved to Bend, Oregon, where his career began with a snowboard graphic for Solid snowboards. In April 2000, he accepted an art director position with SNOWBOARDER magazine and earned the Art Director of the Year award not too long after.
During his talk, Draplin said like most people with content online, his designs get stolen and he gets mean comments on his work.
“Grad student divided by actually has to work a living once they’re done ... and they have 100 grand in the hole divided by crusty portfolio equals mean comments pointed to Aaron Draplin,” Draplin said. “That’s the math, and you can just go and plug the numbers in.”
Draplin made the logo for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery in collaboration with the Obama administration. After designing the logo for it, Draplin said recently he was able to actually meet President Obama.
“Obama gets to me, and I shake his hand, and all I can say is ‘I’m gonna miss you man,’” said Draplin, talking about the experience. “Now, when you get the handshake, he just shakes the hand, but I also got the hand cradle, you know, because I’m crying.”
His book, “Pretty Much Everything,” came out May 17. The book is a collection of Draplin’s work, road stories, maps, how-tos, advice and more. Draplin said the most important part for him was affordability.
“I remember being 22, and I couldn’t buy books,” he said. “They were 80 and 100 bucks, and I could look at them, but I couldn’t afford them.”
The book is $39.95, a price Draplin says he is proud of. It can be purchased through his website, draplin.com.