At Work With Aaron Draplin. | A Continuous Lean.

At Work With Aaron Draplin.

Jun 26th, 2013 | Categories: American Badass, Americana, At Work, OR | by Michael Williams



This meeting was a long time coming. I was in Portland, Oregon a few months back, but I didn’t have a chance to go and meet Aaron Draplin. I’m back this week and I couldn’t make the same mistake twice.

I had a lot of work to do (as I’m sure he did too), but I manage to sneak over to see Draplin today and finally get to meet the man I have admired for so long. Interestingly enough the designer and Field Notes creator is exactly the same in person as I imagined him to be. Friendly, animated, generous, smart, funny and full of life. Draplin is EXACTLY the type of person that ACL was designed to highlight. If you aren’t up to speed on him,. here’s a bit more about him from the ACL archives. I could basically shut this place down after this post, but I won’t.

Two things happen when you meet Aaron.

1. You walk away from the meeting with 100 ideas in your head. Things to create, dreams to pursue and work to be done. 2. You walk away a better person.

You also leave entertained because the man’s personality knows almost no bounds. It’s no surprise to me that he’s so successful. I have a lot of respect for Aaron because when it comes to work, life and the country we live in, he has higher standards. He embraces common sense, he’s opinionated, unpretentious and his humble Michigan roots surface easily.

When it comes to life he wisely values independence, flexibility and simplicity over everything. It’s an inspiring take on things and it made me think of the book Small Giants (which was a recommendation from Ursa Major founder Oliver Sweatman). Like Draplin, the book advocates companies that choose to be great, not big. The world can use more of this type of thinking, and it can use more people like Aaron Draplin.


The original American promotional notebooks that inspired Field Notes.



Not one to neglect the big man, some DDC shirts are available in 6X.


Mutherfuckin_Draplin_09 Mutherfuckin_Draplin_08



Draplin is pretty nuts when it comes to buying stuff mail order. Here’s a classic example: he just bought a 150 pound anvil. It came FedEx. Look at the photo below of the packaging (on his phone). Insane and incredible.

Mutherfuckin_Draplin_24 Mutherfuckin_Draplin_26



Also, Aaron has a massive love, respect and knowledge about the great American trucker hat.







Admiring his Gerber knife…or he could have been preparing to shank me.


Mutherfuckin_Draplin_12  Mutherfuckin_Draplin_13

Comments: 15

15 Comments to “At Work With Aaron Draplin.”

  1. brandon
    on Jun 26th, 2013
    @ 7:25 PM

    I just want to give that guy a big hug.

  2. Cris
    on Jun 26th, 2013
    @ 7:31 PM

    Sorry my sister thought you were Vin, Aaron.
    Miss you.


  3. michael doxsey
    on Jun 27th, 2013
    @ 4:18 AM

    Aaron Draplin is a hero. A big humble hero. Keep it up my friend. Changing the world one click at a time. One speaking engagment at a time…

  4. Jacob
    on Jun 27th, 2013
    @ 5:13 AM

    I love Aaron Draplin and his work, especially the modernist touch he has. Unfortunately, it’s spawned a pretty awful “faux vintage” trend in design, which I hate.

  5. Jordy
    on Jun 27th, 2013
    @ 9:29 AM

    “choose to be great, not big. The world can use more of this type of thinking”

  6. caleb
    on Jun 28th, 2013
    @ 3:01 AM

    #legendinthegame #pockettorsoteeonmyback #DDCpatchgametight

  7. spollack
    on Jun 28th, 2013
    @ 10:52 AM

    buying an anvil and having it shipped Fed Ex..either its a practical joke on the Fed Ex guy, or its just stupid..go to any local auction and you’ll probably be able to find one and just throw it in the back of your truck..

  8. Kenyan
    on Jun 28th, 2013
    @ 11:23 AM

    Aaron needs a show…!

  9. Matthew
    on Jun 28th, 2013
    @ 1:16 PM

    Well said Jacob. Draplin’s work is simple, to the point, and built upon good ideas.

    It annoys me when people lump these principles and aesthetics in with all the vintage/retro design that has been trending over the years. Some of this stuff is good, but most of it is style with no substance or reasoning behind it. It’s a crutch for poor designers.

  10. Elana
    on Jun 28th, 2013
    @ 8:03 PM

    Draplin has TWO Duro Sign Maker kits?! I’ve been stalking Ebay for one for ages.

  11. Trevor
    on Jun 29th, 2013
    @ 1:42 PM

    Aaron Draplin is the living incarnation of a big boss. My eyeballs would be way more bored if he wasn’t around. I wanna cook him a steak and shake him up a martini.

  12. Bob Dale
    on Jun 29th, 2013
    @ 4:26 PM

    Draplin, is the man.

  13. Jennifer
    on Jul 1st, 2013
    @ 4:34 PM

    Amazing! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It’s on a entirely different topic but it has pretty much the same layout and design. Wonderful choice of colors!

  14. Scott
    on Jul 8th, 2013
    @ 10:16 PM

    Cool guy and even cooler products.. Would love to raid that warehouse!

  15. Big Timber
    on Jul 13th, 2013
    @ 11:43 AM