Aaron Draplin


Few of you are probably familiar with the man in the picture, but he has been a source of inspiration for me in UX.  He is Aaron Draplin.  Draplin is a graphic designer originally from Michigan and now working in Portland.  He is the owner and operator of Draplin Design Co.

The reason Aaron Draplin gives me so much motivation is because in a time where it is so easy to dream about designing major projects for huge industries, Draplin is hard at work for the common man.  In short– He cares about the user.

Draplin’s lecture (below) about 50 ways to ruin your career is incredible.

I wrote to him after this video and told him how much I appreciated what he does and how much I enjoyed his simple but beautiful designs, and he wrote back to me very quickly.  It is clear he practices what he preaches.

His flickr.com album (HERE) is a constant source of inspiration.  Draplin epitomizes simplicity and emotion.  He’s a working class hero in a world of high-brow Wacom-weilding artists.

I wanted to highlight Draplin today because motivation is sometimes a struggle, and people like Draplin are a great reminder why I love what I love.  My goal as a UX designer is to give people the appropriate response or emotion.  It is to take complexity and reduce it to simplicity without dumbing-it-down.  Draplin’s two-color, single-line approach is, to me, praiseworthy.  He knows his audience.  He gives people images that make the feel confident and comforted.

Aaron Draplin is also the owner and creative director for Field Notes.  Worried about losing creative control in his graphic design work (a very common issue), Draplin started his own company to produce what exactly what he wanted.  I think this is a great lesson for many user experience designers as well.  Control is a commodity, but by making his own product, rather than relying on others, he was able to have complete control.  It might not seem so easy, but there are ways to control our private lives and allow clients to have a good deal of control in our professional lives.  I hope I am also able to have this level of discipline coupled with inventiveness in my own professional life.

Aaron Draplin, I salute you!

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