Skillshare Audio: Draplin Answers Your Questions on Creativity & Career | Aaron Draplin | Skillshare

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Skillshare Audio: Draplin Answers Your Questions on Creativity & Career

teacher avatar Aaron Draplin, Designer and Founder, Draplin Design Company

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Your Questions, Answered


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About This Class

This class is audio-only, so you won’t see any active video on your screen. Plug in your headphones, take a listen, and let us know what you think!

Draplin is back as you’ve never seen (or rather, heard) him before! For the first time, iconic designer Aaron Draplin is transporting his trademark stream-of-consciousness straight into your brain in this brand-new, audio-only class.

Listen along as Draplin answers student questions all about creativity, design, and his career, weighing in on topics like:

  • How does music influence your designs?
  • How should I respond to negative client feedback?
  • How do I get better at design (and overcome imposter syndrome)?
  • What are your five desert-island fonts?
  • And more!

Whether you’re listening through your car stereo while on a scenic drive, with your AirPods while washing the dishes, or on your computer while you bang out your next logo design, Draplin’s dulcet tones are here to accompany you no matter where your day takes you, no viewing apparatus required.


Explore more audio-only classes on Skillshare! Hear how illustrator Mimi Chao found her way to her dream creative career and learn how to set up your home for work-from-home, school-from-home, and everything-else-from-home with minimalism and sustainability expert Erin Boyle.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Aaron Draplin

Designer and Founder, Draplin Design Company


Bred from the loins of the proud Midwest, this guy was squeezed out in Detroit, in the year 1973 to the proud parents of Jim and Lauren Draplin. Growing up on a steady stream of Legos, Star Wars, family trips, little sisters, summer beach fun, stitches, fall foliage, drawing, skateboarding and snowboarding, at 19 he moved west to Bend, Oregon to hit jumps "Out West." His career started with a snowboard graphic for Solid snowboards and took off like wildfire soon after. Everything from lettering cafe signs to drawing up logos to thinking up local advertising campaigns were manhandled under the ruse of the newly formed-and gigantically reckless-Draplindustries Design Co.

After five winters out west, the kid sobered up and headed back to Minneapolis to finish up a high-falutin' desi... See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction: Let me make sure it's in tune. The ways that the Midwest shaped me as a designer or just as a kid, there's just not a lot there for you. You'll understand from a young age that you're going to have to leave, or you're going to have to invent. What's interesting now all these years later, anyone listening, you don't have to leave the Midwest. You have an Internet at your fingertips. You don't have to leave these places as much anymore. So to now you New York people listening, your stock price is going down. I'm sorry to have to announce it here, but that's the truth. You can do this in middle of Norway, Illinois, as much as you can do it here in Portland, Oregon. You're listening to Skillshare audio and this is Aaron James Draplin, 47 years old in Portland, Oregon. I'm a graphic designer. Sometimes I go outside and I make logos, match, field notes, and things that you need. All right, you guys, I'm new to this stuff. If I had a buck for every time someone said, "why don't you start a podcast?", I'd have about 47 bucks just in the last six months. So this is new for me to just try to capture some spirited questions that come in from our Skillshare exchange. Kids take these classes and then they write in, sometimes I miss them. So we put out a call and say, "Hey, what do you want to know about me or how to work better?" Whatever you want to know. We're going to try to answer some of those questions today. 2. Your Questions, Answered: You guys ready to give this a shot? From the live and the sunshine blog. How did you get comfortable and confident in showing people the work that you have done for them? I'm always afraid there is something they may not like or what I did isn't what they were looking for. Yeah, you know what? You'll never lose that. I have a presentation coming up next week for something and I'm afraid of it because you don't want to let anyone down and you don't want to waste anyone's time and you certainly don't want to waste your own time, feeling around in the dark, but there's a process to this stuff. As long as you discuss these things in a open format, over email, or over a Zoom call or just on the phone with each other, I have the time to say, hey, here's what you're asking for, and here's what I'm going to go try to solve and have those clear expectations, you try to meet them. One of the ways that I do this is I make sure that I'm not just landing on the first thing that I nailed and felt good about, I try to show a range of options at all times because that one might be a little bit too much me, and they need a little bit more of themselves to feel comfortable with it. It's just about accommodating and making sure that you armed yourself to go arm the client with enough stuff. This is like a volume knob. Its a little tiny volume here and by the time you get to the end of the presentation, it's ape shit. Where do you guys land? I'm capable of all of that for you guys. You liked volume number 3? Let's push on that for the next round. That's the idea, is showing a range, showing that you can move quickly based on their feedback, being open to that feedback, even if it means a couple more hours, no bellyaching. Do the work, do the sketch, knock it out ahead of time. I know clearly to have a spirited conversation where I set the tone on how we're going to work on this project and say, you guys, I'm here for you. We're going to go back and forth until you love it. It's about conversation, figure out what you're looking for, listen, take notes, and then attack it accordingly. This one's from Joseph Hillenbrand and he asked that age old question, if you could rebrand any company in the world, what would it be? I don't know. It gets a little bit better. Just a little Mom & Pop shop or something really big. You guys know I like to stay small because there's just that much less heartbreak. If I could rebrand anything in the world, I just don't even think that way you guys, my mind is more about, it might not be the most glorious of paychecks, it's about getting the jobs done. I don't really even go there because that's just wishful thinking and stuff. But to answer that question, I don't know, it might be some car company or something, but I think it's more of an awareness. Why I don't even mess with that, is when you see those things that are any large company in the world or anything for that matter, any company, those things weren't just shit out, those things were made by large committees of people, smart branding people. They're out there with some thought behind it. I'm just really careful to go and tear those things down because when you actually see what it took to actually get that out into the world on your car, it was quite a process or something. You have to be respectful of that before I just go and say, I would just do this. Mom & Pop shops are that much more fun because you're on the ground with them. They're that much more immediate, in like, the glory of it, which is like this thing is done. It's working and your paycheck cleared and you get to celebrate. I've stepped up a lot more of those than I have the bigger things because here's the deal. The bigger things, there's a lot more heartbreak, lot more stopping, starting and just wishy-washy bullshit. The little ones, they were up against the wall and you had to solve this thing so they can get their menu done, their sign done, the graphics on their vehicle and go out and make a buck like you do. I like being in that much more than something that is going to be focused, tested into the ground, may never see the light of day, might have got a big paycheck, but there's just a lot of heartbreak in that stuff. I like doing the job and getting it done. Let me see. From [inaudible] , have you ever had your design intuition challenge in a way that made you second guess how you approach design problems? Yes, every project of course. Sometimes if you know how to listen, the first thing you come up with, get that sketch down. Because it comes from this weird primal place where you're just tuning in and you're reacting, then you can let the overthinking start. But those first couple little blips, capture those. There might be some gold there. Being open to that is a hard thing to do because when you start to focus test, when you do a bunch of discovery and learn, sometimes you could convolute it to where you start to psych yourself out. Well, that's part of the process. You can't just attack these things with your eyes closed. The more you learn about what you're doing, be open to these things that shoot from the hip sometimes because there might be some gold there or there might be just this little bit of quirk that you missed out on due to some stringent over thought process or something. Here's one from Kayla Blackburn. I have a weird question. Try me kid. How much does music influence your design? Just saw your guitar playing on Instagram, your dad, dad noodling is awesome. Well, thank you for saying that because I don't know what I'm doing. It plays a giant role. First of all, how lucky are we to do this for a living? How lucky are we to spend our day, our week, our lives listening to records and podcasts and not some shitty boss one cubicle over from you. That's one of the slatherings of icing on graphic design or let's just say being a creative that we really need to get our hearts sunk into because we're lucky to do this stuff. I come to you right now, broadcasting completely pantless. We don't need to go into details, but I am comfortable right now. That is one of the biggest privileges I've had, that I can roll back here in boxer shorts, in a t-shirt and work my entire day and still operate as if I was in some water cooler environment. Music plays a giant part. Let me see what I'm listening to, you hear the clicking. I know I'm not supposed to do the clicking right now, but you're going to get a little bit of click in this thing. The new Microphone's album, which is soft and mellow, crusty and mossy here in the Northwest. I'd listen to that at night. I can't listen to that during the day because it puts me to sleep. So I have to be really careful what I select. Sometimes podcasts will send me reeling off into the ether and I'm thinking the wrong way. So I use music as a tool to motivate me to get stuff done and get into a headspace where I can knock something out. But also, as a way to pause myself. We all know we can get carried away in this stuff and before you know it.