Nerdlocker Artist Interview: Aaron Draplin


Last year I was fortunate enough to attend MondoCon in Austin, Texas. No lie it was one of the best convention experience I have ever had. A large part of that was due to the talented artists who attended. I discovered several artists I had not heard of before. Case in point, Aaron Draplin. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to meet up with him at the time, but I was struck by his Ohio screen print. Being from the great state, I was floored by how well he captured who we are.

By a stroke of luck (more likely his extreme talent and Mondo’s wise decision to host great artists) we had the opportunity to interview him about his upcoming panel at this year’s MondoCon, his recently released book and of course his want to bone up on his Wolverine claws illustration techniques (special thanks to Dana Lechtenberg for that question).

As many of you know, we’ve been rolling with artist interviews here at Nerdlocker for quite some time now (our first was way back in January 2011). In that time we’ve crossed paths with artists of every temperment, talent and style. Aaron is definitely one of the most down to earth, humble guys I’ve ever met. I got the sense in talking with Aaron, that he would love nothing more than to reach out to everyone who has ever bought his artwork and sincerely say thank you. That’s not always the case with big name artists in this profession. Case in point, Aaron designed the logo for this year’s MondoCon. When asked about it, he instead went on to highlight the great work of other artists, specifically, last year’s shark designer Sonny Day from We Buy Your Kids.


As I said, I’m originally from Ohio, so I was leery about someone from Michigan (not really, but old habits die hard). Luckily he has taken his talents to the Pacific Northwest. We also agreed that being from the midwest is great, but living out west is even better. Aaron talked about the good old days of art and how things have changed tremendously. With increased technology and high speed internet, anything is possible as an artist’s reach can extend worldwide.

Check out the podcast of our conversation. We talked about a great many things, so this has been condensed to hit the highlights.

Aaron Draplin


Aaron will be part of the MondoCon III with his panel, Pretty Much Everything: The Story Behind Making Our Very First Book.. I highly recommend you stop by his booth and say hi. As always, support a great artist and purchase some of his artwork or even his brand new book.


Check out a small sample of Aaron’s artwork:

ABOUT Draplin Design Co., North America

Bred from the loins of the proud Midwest, this little fucker 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’ design degree at the prestigious and painfully expensive Minneapolis College of Art and Design. During this time he polished up his design skills, learned how to weld and how to develop a photo in nasty chemicals. These were the salad days. He fell back in love with a strong Midwest that he once tried so hard to leave.

In April 2000, much to the chagrin of his proud “Midwestern Roots,” he accepted an ill-fated art director position with SNOWBOARDER magazine. He moved it all down to Shithole, Southern California-alongside some hot, caustic beach-and wrangled some 23 issues of the mag. He won “Art Director of the Year” for Primedia 2000, beating out such titles as Gun Dog, Cat Fancy and Teen. No other awards were bestowed in this period, and like he gives a rat’s ass.

Thankfully, in April 2002, the Cinco Design Office of Portland, Oregon called up and offered a Senior Designer gig which he instantly accepted. He moved it all North to the land of rain and gloom and rolled up the sleeves to work on the Gravis, Helly Hansen and Nixon accounts.

The Draplin Design Co. finally stepped out on its own four hairy feet in the fall of 2004. Some four year later, he’s proud to report that he’s managed to “keep everything out of the red.” He rolls up his sleeves for Coal Headwear, the Union Binding Company, Snowboard Magazine, Field Notes memo books, Ride Snowboards, Forum Snowboards, Grenade Gloves, Chunklet Magazine, Cobra Dogs, Absinthe Films, NemoDesign, Gnu Snowboards, RVL7 Apparel, Burton Snowboards, K2 Snowboards, Bonfire Snowboarding Apparel, South American Snow Sessions, as well as all sorts of one-off logos, t-shirt graphics and what not.

He owes it all to his parents, seriously.

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I'm a true child of the 80s from a small town near Cleveland, Ohio. My all time favorite topics are Star Wars, slasher films and Cleveland sports (despite the misery it causes). I narrowly avoided law school, instead choosing film school. I have been accused of being a walking IMDB, but I take it as a compliment!