It is not unusual to have a renowned figure make a speech at a graduation ceremony. This event did showcase the artwork of the students involved with the graphic and communication arts at the College of the North Atlantic but the similarity to a spring convocation ended as soon as Draplin lumbered on stage.
Aaron Draplin is a wooly mammoth of a man. He has a bigger than life personality, a shaggy demeanor, talent dripping out of his fingertips and enough attitude to fill Club One wall to wall. That venue's capacity is listed at 600 and it was sold out– not to proud mums and dads, not even to those professionals affiliated with the graphic arts in the city – although the event was an intriguing hybrid masterminded by a group calling themselves thedesigners (all one word). Draplin has become something of an inspirational speaker, with slogans like "do good work for good people" as his professional advice.
In the flesh, Draplin swears a blue streak. Club One's prominent windows facing the street were decorated with a photo of him that was several feet high. Draplin shuffles on to the stage and says to the audience, "I don't think my face was meant to be 30 feet high. Look at this stage! See what happens when you have friends that are designers. You get props and succulents and shit!" It was true. Proper designer table, artfully displayed plants and Aaron with a mass of hair and beard, stretch denim and a baseball cap. The nurse sitting beside me gasped, "Oh, I saw him outside and I thought 'there's a person who needs a shower'". Aaron looked liked he'd just gotten off a tractor or left his flatbed truck in the lobby. "I was expecting a hipster," she continued. "That's what hipsters look like these days," was my response.
Draplin has designed a staggering number of logos. He showed us a wide range of them at fast pace accompanied by pounding rock music. Draplin observed that for some the only payment he received was a burrito and others $30,000. He is the incarnation of the adage of "find out what makes you passionate and do it". He comes across as being a completely authentic human being and that is genuinely impressive and probably the reason why Draplin got to design for the Obama administration and earn himself a death threat in the process.