Tall Tales From A Large Man at A Giant Conference

Started Wednesday morning out strong at the GIANT conference with the one and only Aaron James Draplin. Could there be anything more appropriate than hearing Tall Tales From A Large Man at a conference named GIANT? Methinks not.

I had the pleasure of seeing and hearing Aaron once before, right here at the Blue Ion office, and full disclosure: I’m a bit of a super fan.

In addition to being an incredible designer whose iconic work has blown my socks off for years, Aaron tells (and writes) great stories with unapologetic earnestness and humor. This is a guy who loves what he does. Hard. Who loves his family. Hard. Who doesn’t take for granted the opportunities that come with his work.

When his Dad died last year, he wrote about him for 30 days. I wrote about it on my personal blog here. I can’t express how much I admire him for being brave enough to share his thoughts, feelings and grief with the world. Whether he knows it or not, sharing those stories helped so many people feel less alone. A few months back, I got a tattoo on my forearm to honor my Dad who passed away almost five years ago. When I was reading Aaron’s blog a while back, I saw he had gotten one too, so I had to grab the pic below. And, yesterday, as usual, he shared some great stories, made me well up, laugh obnoxiously loud, and gave me the patented Draplin “grip.”

Here’s a few bits and pieces from his tales that I especially loved:

  1. On social media overload: “Everything’s on f*ckr without an “E” now.”
  2. On going junking and picking up piles of vintage design: “I walk over with a box of this stuff and the lady just says, ‘Honey, you just take all of that.’ That’s my treasure.”
  3. Fight sameness. We all see trends in design, in culture, and they can be easy to slide into, to absorb and imitate even without knowing it. Fight it. Do your thing.
  4. Get cosmic. Aaron said when he first held his newborn nephew and looked at his impossibly small fingernail, he got cosmic. In the simplest terms, we are infinitesimal and that is humbling and stunningly beautiful. When we get cosmic, we get in touch with that feeling and out of our own heads. And that is good for us and whatever sort of work we do in the world.

Draplin & Jenny