In this week’s episode we are really excited to welcome a very very special guest to the show. Today we are joined by Mr. Aaron Draplin, who is one of the most respected designers in the industry, a bit of a personal hero for all four of your hosts and undeniably a super engaging character too. Aaron drops some incredible knowledge throughput this episode, so we hope you get a tone of value from it wherever you are listening.

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Show Notes for This Episode:

1:00] We’re super excited this week as we’re joined by Mr. Aaron Draplin
[1:30] Tom lists Aaron’s incredible work including: Field Notes, designs for Nike and the Obama campaign
[2:00] He also gives a shout to a mutual connection: Dave Clayton
[2:40] Tom appreciates not only Aaron’s career but the way he does business and deals with clients
[3:20] Aaron is mostly known as the ‘analog guy’ and Tom wonders if he feels any tension between digital and analog
[3:50] Aaron prefers making notes on paper and transferring his sketches on the computer
[4:20] He feels intimidated by the new changes in technology and the effect on communication
[5:00] He admits he has a mountain of apps he’s used once or he never used at all
[5:35] Aaron uses Illustrator 90% of his time, Photoshop and a bit of InDesign for invoices
[6:10] He mentions how he got introduced to Estude Graphics and Better Rename 9 and what these are useful for
[6:40] The more people he meets the more apps he gets introduces to
[7:10] Tom’s analogy of website design being like a house with too much stuff but without a foundation
[7:40] Tom’s thoughts on Aaron’s work: design at its core and it has a beautiful simplicity
[8:10] Aaron gives the example of Jon Contino’s work
[8:50] Talking about graphics, he mentions he likes things that take him back to a simpler time
[9:20] He feels like his work from 2005 looks like something he did yesterday, but looking back at 2005 this didn’t exist
[10:00] Tom and Aaron debate the meaning of the word ‘retro’
[10:50] Aaron’s principal of not going out of style and designing graphics that are suitable for the brand
[11:55] Ian asks Aaron how did he stop himself from chasing design trends?
[13:30] Aaron list a few examples of designers that really caught his eye: Chuck Anderson and The House Industries
[14:30] He tried a lot of different styles and feels that some suited him while others didn’t
[15:40] He has been introduced to Jan Tschichold and Swiss Modernism but didn’t jump on the trend
[16:10] He chose design that he can sell for the rest of his life
[17:00] Most people get swayed by the latest trend but it’s best to emulate the timeless trends
[18:00] Aaron doesn’t like adding work in progress to his Instagram, as he doesn’t think it’s fair to the client
[19:00] Aaron’s advice: “Make your own way!”
[21:20] Dustin asks Aaron is he has a strategy for promoting himself or what we see it’s just who he is and there is no strategy behind it?
[23:00] Aaron doesn’t want other designers to be threatened by him
[24:30] He aims to make every tweet mean something
[25:30] He used to stay late in studio to create
[26:30] Lisa asks Aaron is he’s always been comfortable with sharing his personal life
[27:00] Aaron used to send letter to his friends living overseas and kept a journal from when he was 13 to 23 years old
[28:00] He used the same personal style on his website as he would talking with a friend
[29:00] He considers himself lucky to have the parents he has and he wanted to share this experience with others
[30:00] For Aaron authenticity comes naturally
[31:20] He cares less about awards and more about the experience e.g.: at a basketball game
[32:00] The people that others are most interested in don’t care about the number of likes or awards
[33:00] Getting better in your own personal time
[33:40] Before it became work, graphic designs was a hobby for Aaron
[35:00] Making things just because it’s fun and you’re enjoy it
[36:20] Being able to do what you love and getting paid for it
[37:10] Aaron’s experience of washing dishes for 4 summers in Alaska
[38:00] He doesn’t want to be a motivational speaker
[39:50] Lisa asks Aaron where does his strong connection with the working class come from
[41:50] Aaron considers himself lucky with his jobs and he’s very thankful for that
[42:45] Aaron shares the mountain men joke that his dad told him
[44:00] His example of the company donating the Christmas party fund to a charity
[44:40] Aaron is doing a lot of free work e.g. a logo for friends’ bands
[45:30] He features the work he’s mostly proud of, including things he didn’t make any money on
[46:20] Aaron has a lot of projects he’s working on just for equity
[47:10] He also makes time in his busy day for things he cares about
[48:30] Dustin asks Aaron how he deals with anxiety considering how many project he’s working on?
[49:30] He works very hard to complete the work once he’s promised something
[50:30] He likes to unwind in the evening, but admits that work is always in the back of his mind
[51:20] He will get off the couch to complete a task that bugs him
[52:20] He just gets on with work and doesn’t let stress affect him
[53:00] Aaron received 16 new emails in the one hour he has been recording the podcast
[54:30] He know that if he doesn’t reply to an email he will hear from that person again
[55:50] Tom touches on the topic of treating clients with respect
[56:50] Aaron mentions little things we can do to make each other’s life easier
[57:30] This includes back-saving files in Ai
[59:20] And getting back to people and thanking them for their time
[60:00] He mentions he gets a lot of requests for being interviewed but he doesn’t have time for all of them
[1:01:00] Even replying to someone to say ‘no, thank you’ takes time
[1:01:40] The pressure is always on when you have interactions with so many people
[1:02:00] The example of Brian Cranston not wanting to sign more autographs
[1:03:45] Aaron makes sure to give a lot of attention and time to his fans
[1:04:45] He is a huge fan of Mike Watt
[1:06:00] Ian and Aaron share a passion for BMXs
[1:07:00] His love for skateboarding opened a new world to him
[1:09:00] This transformed into a love for snowboarding and later went into design
[1:10:00] Working on a book is taking a lot of time and Aaron is not sure when he will be able to work on a second book
[1:00:40] His last book sold 45,000 copies
[1:11:20] He has ideas for a new book but he’s waiting for the right time
[1:12:00] Aaron is also helping his girlfriend Lee with her brand Notes to Self
[1:13:00] She’s already sold 400 stickers and Aaron loves being able to help
[1:14:00] Aaron lists all the things he’s done and says he’s excited about the next phase of his life
[1:15:00] Aaron is coming to visit UK this year, and he will be in London between 1st-7th May
[1:15:50] He will be doing a talk on 4th ,5th and 6th of May
[1:16:40] He will also be going to Berlin, and possibly again in the UK
[1:17:40] He loves coming to UK and hopes to have time to wonder and visit a few record stores – Tom and Ian would love to show him around
[1:18:20] Aaron jokes and tells fans he’s their dad
[1:19:00] If you’d to like to check (they also ship to the UK)
[1:19:25] Over at you can check the Field Notes Notepad
[1:20:00] Check out Aaron’s Instagram over at @draplin
[1:21:00] Aaron is a huge inspiration for all 4 honest designers
[1:21:20] Ian recommend Aaron’s ’50 point plan to ruin your career which you can check here:
[1:22:00] Aaron is not extremely happy about being called authentic
[1:23:00] He explains how he came with the idea of the ’50 point plan’
[1:24:00] He sold the second show very easy
[1:25:00] With Aaron what you said is what you get
[1:26:00] We really appreciate Aaron being able to join the show
[1:26:20] Aaron jokes about being paid 25,000 to attend the Honest Designer’s show
[1:27:00] Thanks all for listening to this week’s episode

“A must for every creative freelancer (or those aspiring to freelance). Thank you for being so… honest! Such a wealth of information from people I admire who have ‘been there and done that’. Listening to the podcast every week feels like I’m among friends. Can’t wait for more episodes!”AG_GD