Draplin Project

Posted by Scott

Headphone time: The language in this video is potentially NSFW.

I don’t know where I stumbled on to this video, but It’s amazing, hilarious, and insightful all at the same time. Judging from the title I thought I was about to be subjected to some sort of right-wing rant about morals and values in America, little did I know I was actually in for a very down to earth lesson in design. I really like this guy’s attitude and it’s rare that you hear someone speak so frankly and unpretentiously about design. In my opinion, he hits the nail on the head with this and I couldn’t agree more. Even if you don’t agree with him, you absolutely must agree with the Futura titling.

I don’t have much info on this, but apparently it’s a trailer from an upcoming series called The Draplin Project featuring a guy named Aaron Draplin. Aaron’s site is full of interesting stuff and some very nice examples of industrial modernist design. I’ve posted the poor quality YouTube version above for ease of viewing, but you can also download the hi-res Quicktime version from Jess Gibson’s site.

21 Comments Leave A Comment


thomas says:

July 30, 2008 at 6:08 am

ya, i understand where he’s coming from. it’s interesting to see how personally offended he is. i’ve just started getting into design a couple years back, so i’m pretty green. but, i have noticed how so much older design is more pleasing for me to look at in a lot of ways. even the colors..i guess really in every aspect to be honest. i suppose it just all has to do with how easy is has now become for anyone to design “something” in the digital world. it’s kind of like where music has been going as well. you used to actually have to be able to play your instrument to make a record. crazy, huh? oh well, things will always change and keep changing. it’s okay.


Jeremy says:

July 30, 2008 at 8:03 am

I absolutely love this guys take on a trend that I’ve noticed as well. My wife hates it when we’re walking through a store and I stop to complain about a piece of crappy deisgn that probably took someone 30 minutes to make and charged a ton for.

In the design industry, the barrier of entry is pretty small though. Anyone willing to drop some cash (or obtain by other means) for some software can learn to crank out designs. The buyers need to, somehow, get more educated about the process also, and not perpetuate the vicious cycle.


Nicholas says:

July 30, 2008 at 8:39 am

I live in Iowa and the signage here is collectively terrible. It is offensive. There are so many garbage sign companies here who seem to just pump this crap out faster and faster. [note: The agencies here are sub-par to boot] The sad aspect of this situation is, most of these companies obviously began by primarily specializing in production. Then most go on to unfortunately think they can expand by offering design services. The fault does not lie completely with the ‘sign company’ either as Jeremy stated. It is the blue collar plumbing company who really doesn’t give a shit about design for example. The uneducated customer. Is there a way around that? No, probably not. As a 25 year old designer, and only 4 years into the game, I welcome the challenge. Honestly, sites like ISO50 and are the only shining beacons of light that somehow get me through the day … well, that may be a bit exxaggerative, haha. You get the point. Nice vid thanks for posting.


Andrew S. says:

July 30, 2008 at 10:52 am

I like how you slowly realize he knows what he’s talking about. He has some pretty good work on his site.


Don G. says:

July 30, 2008 at 12:06 pm

Although I’m not from the US, the situation is exactly the same here in Europe!

Only yesterday, I complained to my wife while we were driving past the new stadium they’re building here in our town: They’re building a brand new stadium costing millions of dollars and have just recently put up the name on glass facade. It’s written using black transfer film directly on the glass, approx 10 feet high, and set in something like Arial Narrow… it’s just depressing!


Eric W says:

July 30, 2008 at 1:10 pm

DDC is a great studio and Aaron is the real deal. Had the pleasure of meeting him and he is truly inspiring. His blog is great and is on my daily rotation right before this one. He is one of those guys that get’s it and keeps doing it. Much love to my Northwest.


michael j. says:

July 30, 2008 at 4:14 pm

it is hard to deal with uneducated clients who look at design as a product instead of a service. many people with big budgets for design just want to pay someone who knows photoshop or illustrator to create their half-formed idea. the first client i ever worked for out of school had the rationale of putting as many colors as possible on a web page since he was paying for the real estate. i wish instead he had thought “since i’m paying YOU to be my designer, and i’ve seen what you can do, i want to help see your idea through because i trust that it will work best for me.” that’s real value. on the other side of that coin designers have a responsibility to fulfill. anyone that charges $15K for a shit sign like that is obviously in it for the paycheck.


Scott says:

July 30, 2008 at 5:45 pm

yeah, I think the key here is that it’s a sign company, who manufactures signs, who decided it would be a good idea to design signs as well. But I think it’s important to note that the $15,000 invoice most likely included the fabrication, materials, and labor involved in the actual construction of the sign, not simply the shitty graphics that ended up on it.

The real shame here is the loss of the shaped signs, now it’s just a big frame with some printed plexiglass and a light behind it. used to be a sculpture with all sorts of lights going on. these days a sign like that probably costs $100,000 or some ridiculous number.


NAVIS says:

July 30, 2008 at 10:51 pm

I live in Los Angeles and it’s so confusing here because it’s a barrage of amazing design and then terrible design. All on the same block. My room mate and I will drive around and notice some bizarre signs and wonder why in the hell the ad agencies went with those ads. They simply do not make sense. Then turn the corner and be like.. damn…. that ad is amazing. Like the ENORMOUS Indiana Jones poster off La Cienega… or was it La Brea?

This is a little off topic but along the lines of bad art. I’m a fine artist/photographer and I’ve been trying to get my work into galleries for a while now and I can’t get anyone interested to show my work. Then I see what they have in their galleries and it frustrates me because a lot of it is so stupid. It’s the kind of art like that motel sign. It just sucks. The kind of art that makes you say, “my three year old nephew could do that”. It makes me want to drink heavily.

Last night I walked by one of Tod Goldman’s galleries… you know… the guy who created the characters that say, “boys are stupid, throw rocks at them.” And part of me wanted to set the building afire. Sure, they’re whimsical and charming but on a technical level… they just suck.

Who knows. Perhaps it’s my art that sucks. If that’s the case, I should drink heavily. After all, I live in Los Angeles.

Although if everyone were to become more design conscientious, would that encourage people to create better products? What would actually happen if that were to happen?


James Madson says:

August 1, 2008 at 9:49 am

The sign industry for the most part has lost it’s craftsmanship. It’s a sad thing to see. I work with sign companies everyday, and there is only a couple guys who know “how it used to be”. I can’t wait for the full movie to come out. Kudos to those guys for speaking out!


Glenford says:

August 4, 2008 at 9:48 am

if that mock up is a true representation of what the sign co. actually came up with then wow, that’s MAYBE a 15minute job with 1 other option. it’s definitely pathetic, but that’s really how a sign shop works these days, especially if they are a very busy shop. jobs come in and because it’s not considered higher-end studio stuff, they charge quite a bit less for design, and what ends up happening is you get stuff pumped out that’s quick and dirty. obviously the designer either didn’t care to make something a little nicer, wasn’t told to make something nicer(alot of the time the owners are getting the contact NOT the designer so there’s a disconnect from the start), or it was just one of those days where he/she was too busy with other pressing jobs and banged out a piece of shit. it happens and it’s unfortunate.


davidmac! says:

August 4, 2008 at 7:44 pm

That was a great video thanks. Being a sign maker myself – I get very frustrated with my competition. I am computers guy but I got a lot of respect for the brush painters that were before me. But so many of the sign shops in my town just pump out crap. So, I try to remind the folks who complain about my prices – I am not just a guy who owns a sign machine, I am an artist who appreciates history and wants beautify your business and the community. Thanks Scott for that video.


Donald says:

April 3, 2009 at 10:46 am

Good evening. Everything happens to everybody sooner or later if there is time enough.
I am from India and too poorly know English, give please true I wrote the following sentence: “Purchase your airline ticket and trip.”

With love :P, Donald.