Draplinspiration

Good designers know that there is always more to learn. It’s an interesting industry to be a part of, like a log rolling contest. The rules and methods are constantly changing, and designers are systematically challenging the status quo. You have to keep shifting your feet to keep up, otherwise you’ll end up in the drink.

One of the ways we do that is to learn from fellow designers. On Monday, four of our designers attended an intensive logo workshop at SUNY Adirondack with one of the greats, Aaron Draplin of Draplin Design Company.

We filed into a tightly-packed classroom filled with computers, and waved hello to a few friendly designer colleagues and students who we recognized. The room buzzed with excited anticipation, wondering how many swear words and pearls of wisdom Mr. Draplin would bestow upon us.

Aaron Draplin running the design workshop.

Dressed in one of his signature trucker caps, full beard and sweat pants (he is a rockstar on the road, after all), he absorbed the energy in the room and began the workshop. He whizzed through Illustrator quick keys and stories about past clients as we fervently scribbled notes and sketches in our books. He told the story behind his work for President Obama and opened up his working files to show us how he works on a daily basis. “Don’t tweet this!” he’d proclaim, followed by “Keys to the kingdom!”

Aaron Draplin running the design workshop.

One of the most interesting anecdotes he shared was his journey from Michigan to Portland, Oregon. (He and Staci later shared a moment when they talked after the workshop and discovered that his mom hails from the same hometown that she does: Livonia, Michigan.)

Draplin's hand drawn map of Michigan.

After the workshop, the entire team sat in on his presentation—filled with the same heartwarming, hilarious and inspiring design stories, more swear words, and insight into the design industry.

Our team came away feeling inspired and refreshed, excited to have touched base with a designer we all admire. We laughed and shared, and came to work the next day with the tips we’d learned fresh in our minds.

Design is all about evolving, listening to the world, and moving people with the art we create. And when we learn and get inspired together, we benefit as a team. You see it in the work we produce. As he stated when he closed out the workshop, “I know this is going to sound really ‘Bob Ross-y’, but inspiration is infinite. Catalog those things around you.”

Draplin puts Rob in a headlock.

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Business, Blizzards and Birthdays

A Story in Photos
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Amanda, Cara and Kelli hit the road Monday night for (and in) a flurry of activity. The Adirondack Destination Marketing Summit was a success, with robust attendance in spite of the blizzard. We shared our stories and insight during the “What We Learned About Millennials” presentation. We were thrilled to hit the stage again with the inspiring Hillarie Logan-Dechene, Director of Philanthropy at the W!ld Center, with the addition of new voices—Stanzi McGlynn (Digital Content Fellow, W!ld Center) and Kathryn Reiss (Owner & Operator, High Falls Gorge) who both shared stories of how our Millennial Toolkit helped inspire their social media and marketing efforts, and the success that they’ve witnessed firsthand.

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We started the day by listening to the opening segment delivered by Jasen Lawrence from ROOST—the room was packed, just as the first snowflakes started to fall.

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Our neighboring booth at the Conference—it was great to see Shannon Oborne in attendance from Paul Smith’s College, and our collateral making a big impression.

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Meeting Stanzi McGlynn, our co-presenter from the W!ld Center, in person for the first time.

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Fierce women before a fierce presentation, just as the room began to fill. Hillarie referred to us as a team, which was a recurring theme through the Summit as speakers encouraged collaboration.

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The dynamic Hillarie, and soon-to-be birthday girl, opening the presentation, “What We Learned from Millennials,” as well as sharing new information about the China Ready initiative.

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Cara with Kathryn Reiss of High Falls Gorge, all smiles after our talk.

Snowflakes the size of quarters were falling from the sky, and we couldn’t resist exploring Lake Placid amid the flurries. We quickly slipped back in time, feeling like kids again, throwing snow in the air and laughing as we struggled through knee-high snow. We bravely trekked through drifts to meet Hillarie for dinner in celebration of her birthday—we enjoyed the extra time spent with her family, getting to know her as not just a client, but a friend. Sharing stories by the fire at The Mirror Lake Inn as we watched the unrelenting snow is a memory that we are surely never going to forget.

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High kicks and hijinks as we romped in the snow, which you should know was not uncommon on the streets in Lake Placid.

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Cara’s striking resemblance to the snow atop the staircase at Mirror Lake Inn.

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Looking in amazement at the parking lot Monday night, wondering which car was ours and how exactly we were going to get out in the morning.

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Winter Wonderland, as we took a (very) slow descent down through Keene Valley.

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Feeling thankful for our safe and successful time in the Adirondacks. Not without a significant amount of gratitude to the workers who cleared the roads, the travelers who stayed off the roads, and to the hosts in Lake Placid who welcomed all of us with open arms.

International Women’s Day

Last week rumblings began around the internet about plans for “A Day Without a Woman,” which would highlight how much women do, at the same time that the celebrations of International Women’s Day were being planned. Neither has been without controversy, which actually seems to be par for the course for days-of-awareness and grassroots initiatives lately. Writing this as a business owner, mother of three daughters, and married to a man who was raised by a single mom, I have some opinions on all of it.

I’m not here to pick fights or sling harsh words, I’d really like to just talk about women, not because men don’t matter. I want to talk about women because our agency is women-owned. This isn’t lip service or “abusing the system” as I once had a man say to me. The reality is that of the 12 people who work here, 6 are women. Two of those women, Staci and Leslie, have been hired within the last six months. We didn’t set out to hire women, but as candidates for the open positions, they exemplified the skills and character traits needed in the mix at that time. They could not be more different from one another in how they design and think. I laughed at great length when Staci said, “I do none of the cooking and very little of the cleaning at home. Karl and I like to challenge gender roles.” Leslie talks about parental responsibilities over the dog she and her husband share.

I enjoy having women as a part of our team and I am proud to be a woman in a position of power who is able to open doors for other women. This doesn’t mean that I coddle women on my staff or set different expectations for them, in fact, I may be considered the least nurturing of anyone in the office. It’s ok.

I spent last week out of the office in order to be with my children during the school holiday. I haven’t always felt comfortable doing this and earlier in my career I chose not to a lot of the time in order to project a “professional appearance.” I understand, particularly as I follow the discussions online about participating in A Day Without a Woman and how someone women who have to work feel left out, that the flexibility and autonomy I have to take the time is not something that everyone has. I also know as a business owner that the work is still there to get done when I return, it’s really just delaying what needs to be done.

My business partner is out for a few days to spend time with her daughter who is away at college. Her absence in the office will be felt, but it is also understood that we all take time off and that we have different things that fuel us and root us. As a result of our personal lives and professional decisions, we bring different things to the business.

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Grace Bonney of Design Sponge and author of In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from Over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs said in an interview with Business Insider about women and work-life balance:

“… I think the biggest sort of eye opener for me was realizing that almost all of these women had in common the idea that they had given up work/life balance, because I think that it’s a concept that doesn’t — it is not rooted in reality. I think that life and work are constantly in flux, and the market in which we’re all working is constantly in flux.”

Everyone is looking for balance, personal fulfillment, and professional growth. I happen to believe that the more we surround ourselves with people who have different perspectives and desires, the better we are able to navigate the world, service our clients, and define our roles.

This morning a friend of mine with a fierce digital business included Trampoline in a round up of women-owned businesses. The article below highlights women in the design industry who are making waves, gorgeous, bold waves.

 

33 Women Doing Amazing Things in Graphic Design

Today we sit at the precipice of more hires. Maybe they’ll be men, maybe they’ll be women, who knows? What I can say with certainty is that the jobs are available because of the contributions and sacrifices of women. I am grateful for the women and open minded men who came before me and made it not so outside the realm of possibility that I do what I do. It’s because of them that a meeting in 2005 played out in this way:

“Uh, hi, I’d like to speak to a manager about some work I’d like done.”

I smiled as I stepped forward with an outstretched hand and said, “You can talk to me.”

He did a double take and said with a laugh, “They let the women do the meetings here?”

I smiled again, “Actually, they let the women do the owning. What can I help you with, sir?”

 

 

 

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