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TableofContents

Welcome

GrowingUp

LeavingTheNest

GainfulEmployment

Independence

RiskyBusiness

DDCMerch

FieldNotes

Rock-n-RollEfforts

Logos,Logos,Logos

TheOpenRoad

RescueEfforts

MultipleImpressions

SharingTheMess

ThickLines

DDCFactoryFloor

TallTalesWorldTour

Dad

Mom

Appreciation

Didn’tThinkItWouldCometoThis

Ididn’tgetintothisstuffwiththegoalofmakingabook.Ijustwantedtomake

alifeinart.Andtypingthis,ithitsme—Ididit.

EarlyInfluences

MycousinTomDraplinisthefirstpersonIlookeduptointheartworld.He

hadthecoolsketchbooksandcoloredpencilsandwasanaturalartist.I

rememberseeingbitsofdrawingsandillustrationfromhistimeatParsonsin

NewYorkCity.Tomwasalsothefirstpersonwhoinspiredmetohittheroad.

TommadeitoutofDetroittothebigleaguesofartschool,andthatwasalways

somethingI’dthinkaboutwhenweighingmyoptionsasgraduationfromhigh

schoolneared.

IfirstlearnedaboutCharlesS.AndersonatNorthwesternMichiganCollege,

fromaFrenchPaperposterpromotionfloatingaroundthedesignstudio.It

wasinabigpileofpaperpromosbeingkickedaround,andsomehowitended

upinmylittlecubicle.Istudiedthatthingferociously.Hisworkwasan

incrediblemixoftype,illustrationandwit.WhichledmetothemightyCSA

ArchiveinMinneapolis.Iwashookedrightaway.Therewasanappreciation

forthepast,andyetitallfeltfresh,consideredandrespectful.Chuckwill

alwaysbemydesignhero,andI’mproudtoconsiderhimafriendandmentor.

We’veslayedsomeprettyseriousporkchopsoverdinnerinMinneapolis!

Inthefallof1997,IdidmyveryfirstEastCoastroadtrip.Startingfrommy

parents’homeinMichigan,IwentallthewaytoPortland,Maine.Thento

Boston,NewYork,Philly,andallthewaydowntothedoorstepofHouse

IndustriesinWilmington,Delaware.Ilovedtheirbeautifuldesign,detailed

typographyandsenseofhumor.IknockedonthedoorandaconfusedAndy

Cruzanswered.“Myname’sAaronDraplin.I’mheretobuysomefonts.”He

wasabitstartledbutletmein.Theygavemethefulltourandloadedmeup

withsomuchcoolshit.Theydidn’thavetoaccommodatemynerdycuriosity

thatafternoon,butstillmadetimeforme.Andinturnmadealifetimefanwith

thatlittlemomentofspontaneoushospitality.

ACompany,ButNotACompany

WhenIgotgoinginthemid-’90s,thedesignworldwasattheheightofthe

post-post-postmoderndesigncraze,withthewildforms,damagedtextand

provocativeboundarypushing.Allthecompaniessoundedtechnological,

dizzyingandcold.Ilikedtheideaofusingmynameinmy“thing.”Andyet,

you’dmeetacoupleturdswhowerea“company”andthey’dactthepart.With

allthepomp,plural-speakandloftyaspirations.AndIsetouttopokefunatthat

shit,anditstuck.Speakinginthirdperson,andyet,thewholetime,it’sjust

littleol’me.ThatwasfunnytomewhenIhadnothing,andstillis,withashop

filledwithequipmentandtreasures.Iguessitwasareactiontodesignerswho

tookthemselvesalittletooseriously.Sowhynotblowitoutofthewater,

right?SoIdid.The“we”and“us”oftheDraplinDesignCo.wasjustme.This

wholetime.Secret’sout!Icallmyshopa“shop.”Justlikemydaddid.Nota

“studio.”Nota“space.”Nota“multidisciplinary,form-challenging,content-

resuscitating,image-recontextualizing,language-defetishizing

firm/studio/collective/fartchamber”acouplewheezebagYalegradstudent

pricksarestarting.Anythingbutthatbullshit.

BlueCollar?InSpirit,atLeast

Ialwayssquirmwheninterviewersorfansaskmeabouthowthe“bluecollar”

qualityofmyworkandwayofdoingbusiness.Let’sgetsomethingvery,very

straight:Thisisawhitecollarprofession.And,canbeembarrassingly

pretentious.CouldIapplysomeofthesimple,hardworkingvaluesI’dbeen

aroundgrowinguptothisstuff?Hellyes.Artschoolteachesyoutoelevate.

Sometimes,alittletoohigh.IwascarefultolearnasmuchasIcould,andstill

beabletoshoottheshitwiththeguysatthescrapmetalyard.It’sabadgeof

honorthatIgotmyselfoutoftheeconomicrutsI’dfindmyselfin.I’vehada

factoryjobpushingthousandpoundtoolanddiemoldsaround.I’vetrimmed

treeswithroughnecks.I’vewasheddishesforfivemonthsatastretchin

Alaska.Iuseddesigntogetmeoutofthatshit—plainandsimple.Designisa

tradetome.Artist?Iguess?Tradesman?Closer.Hardworker?Always,

always,always.

TookitontheChinJustEnoughTimes

Thereweresomestingingmomentsalongtheway.I’vehadmymyheart

brokenahandfuloftimes.Beitsnowboardgraphicsthatfellthrough,gigs

appliedforandhandedtofolkswhodidn’tgiveashitoralogojobpromised

andthencompletesilence.I’vehadthingstakenaway.Atthestart,middleand

endofjobs.AndI’llneverforgetthatfeeling.Ittaughtmetobuckledown,

savorthejobsIhadandnever,everhalf-assthisstuff.

Six,Seven,EightTrickPony? Intwentyyears,I’veseensomeprettyfuntrickscomeandgo.WhenIstarted,it wasallthatpost-post-post-modernbullshit.Thensomekindoftechnothing. Thenitwasbeingironic.Thenitwas“snippedcorner”thing.Thenfuckin’ antlers.TheneveryonebecameaSupplyCo.ofsomesort.Don’tforgetthe

GreatAmpersandEpidemicoftheearly2010s!Igetalotofflakfor“retro

stylings”inmywork.Ilikethingsthatwork.Thingsthataretime-tested.Free ofsuperfluouselements.Thegrid.Ilikesimplicity.Straightforwardsolutions. I’vetriedtodevelopconsistentstylestoworkin,butpridemyselfonbeing abletodeliverwhat’sapproporatefortheclient.Andthatalwaysisn’tFutura

BolddippedinPantoneOrange021.

BusyBeingBusy

Man,I’vebeenbusy.Thisstuffstilldoesn’tfeellikea“job?”Ilikebeinginthe

shop.It’swhereIamthemostcomfortableandcanmaintainabig’olgolden

buzzofproductivity.Atmypace.AndI’veusedallthehours,weeks,months

andyearstofighthardtomakesomethingoutofthisstuff.ButIknowthathas

aflipsideandImissedsomespecialthingsaroundme.Allowmetotakethis

opportunitytoapologizetomyMom,sistersandLeighforalwaysbeingbusy,

frazzledandall-consumedwiththisshit.Butshit,Ihadtogoforit.

DiditasCreativelyasPossible

I’mproudoftheeffortI’veputintomycareer.IcanproudlysaythatIgavemy

alltothisstuff.Thewholefuckin’time.It’sasickness,sortof.Ijustwon’tlet

myselfphonesomethingin.I’malwaysafraidit’llbesomelazylittledecision

thatisthelynchpinthatgetpulled,andthenwegowhirlingofftherails.I’ve

workedmyassoffingraphicdesign.Andtookadvantageofthecreativespace

itallows.IdidthingsascreativelyasIcould.Withhumor,alittlewitandwas

alwayscarefulnottotakemyselftooseriously.Whataprivilegetooperate

withinsuchacooltrade.

MyProudestParagraphstoDate

Itriedtobuildalifeindesignmyownway.Canyoumakeacareeroutof

somethingonyourownterms?Ithinkyoucan.Andyet,Istillfearthisstuff.

Thatwaspoundedintomefromayoungage:Nomatterhowgoodthingsseem

tobe,it’suptoyoutokeepitallgoing.I’malwaysfreakedwhenItakemyeye

offtheball.Whichisirrational.Mylittlethinghasmomentum,andIknowit’ll

keepchuggingalong.Butthenagain,alittlepartofmefeelssoinsanely

entitledtowritethatout,andwillnevertakemyteenynuggetofsuccessfor

granted.

Imadethisstuffmylife.Whensomethingisyourhobbyfirst,the“work”part

neverfeelsthesame.Ilovemakingthisstuff.AndI’mhopingthat’llnever

change.I’vebeenluckytopulloffakillerlittlelifeindesign.Letthisgoddamn

bookbeproof!Factsarestubbornthings.

QuestionableWordsFrom

QuestionablePeople

ThomasDraplin,Artist&InfluentialCousin

Itisanimpressivethingtotrustinyourself,whatyoulove,thepeoplewho

loveyouandtofollowwhereyourheartleadsyou,passionately.Aaronisthat

exampleofstayingtruetowhoyouare.Ifindhishonest,practical,down-to-

earthcreativityinfectious.Thehard-workinggenerous,littleshitdonegood,

andI’mproud.Itsbeenamazingtoseethesparksofjoythatkidhadwitha

simplemagicmarkerandhowithasleadtoatrulyamazinglifeandcareer.

I’minspired.

EricCampbell,GraphicDesigner

TheEnglishlanguageprefixpro-isoneIhavealwaysadmired.Itmeans

“forward.”Italsomeans“for.”Asin,onethatstandsforsomething.Andit

happenstobetheperfectprefixtodescribeAaronJamesDraplin.Whenwe

wereyoungskateboardersandsnowboarderscomingup,welivedbytheword

“progression.”Wewerealwayspushingforward,tryinghardtofirstland,and

thenmaster,newtricks.Aaronwasalwaysonboardforprogression.Inhigh

school,hecreated,brandedandprofitedfromsellingthe“Draplid,”an

embroideredknithatthatcleverlyfeaturedtherootofhislastname—an

emergingself-promoter.Aswegrewup,webecameprofessionalsinour

respectivefields,putting“forth”ourknowledgeandadvancedskillstothe

public.Andcertainlynoonedisputesthisman’sproficiency.Buttheprothat

maybestdescribeAaronwaspalpableatarecentgalleryexhibit,asIstood

oglingatthestaggeringamountofhisworkhungbeforeme.Theguyis

prolific!Probablytoagreaterdegreethananyonecurrentlyinthegraphicarts.

Needproof,justthumbthroughthisbook.Asalifelongfriendandfellow

designer,it’sbeensurrealseeingAaron’smeteoricrise.Youcouldchalkitup

tohistalent,charm,humorandhisfirmhandshake.But,mostofall,itis

Aaron’sstraight-uphardworkthathaspropelledhimtocosmicsuccess.He’sa

hard-working,goodhuman,andthat’ssomethingwecanallstandfor.

CameronBarrett,BlogPioneer

I’veknownAaronsincewewerebothteenagersandattendingthelocal

vocationalschool.WhentheInternetblewupinthelate’90s,Idraggedhim

kickingandscreamingontoit,where,aswithanythingAarondoes,he

masteredit.IamAaron’svoiceofreason,hisonlinemuse,hisbrotherfrom

anothermother.Itaughthimthatbackupsaresacred,replyingtoe-mailis

importantandtoalwaysbetontheunderdog.ThebestpartaboutAaronisthat

heisafriendtoeveryone,nomatterthesordidpast,vices,gamblingproblems,

messed-upfamilyorwhateverpoisonsailyou.Ifyoulethim,Aaronwilllove

you,giveyouguidanceandnudgeyouinthedirectionyouneedtogo.Ifthe

graphicdesignindustryhadasuperhero,Aaronwouldbeit,amazingpowers

andall.

MarkPhillips,MasterJunker

AaronDraplinisthecogthatkeepsthemodernvectorgraphicmachine

crankingoutlean,meanquality.FueledbyCoca-Colaandaspiteforgarbage

strip-mallsignage,Aaronpayshomagetothekindoftraditionalismthatholds

theweightofananvil.Asofthisprinting,AaronhasbeenbumpedbySinbad

onMarcMaron’sWTFpodcast.

JayFloyd,GraphicDesigner

ImetAaronin1994inBend,Oregon.Hewasdrivingthewrongwaydowna

one-waystreet.Icalledhimanidiot,hetoldmetofuckoff.We’vebeenfriends

eversince.InthoseBenddays,heboughtaPowerComputingMaccloneand

kickeditsassrelentlessly.Withoutanyformaleducationatthetime,hechurned

outgraphicaftergraphic—alwayssimple,alwayspowerful,always

unapologetic.Sincethen,I’vescratchedmyheadwonderinghowhe’s

bamboozledthemassesintolisteningtohisstories,buyinghistrinketsand

uselessjunk—andgoingnutsoverhisminiaturebooksofpaper.Well,allyou

gottadoismeetthemantounderstandanyofit.He’slargerthanlife,insanely

talentedandfullofpissandvinegar,butmostimportant,he’stherealdealand

I’vealwaysbeenproudtocallthesonofabitchafriend.

ChrisCoyle,RedFangTourManager WhenIthinkofAaronJamesDraplin,twowordscometomind:“bold”and “thick.”NotonlydotheydescribetheworkcomingofftheFactoryFloor,but alsothemanhimself.Aarondoesn’tenteraroomandgounnoticed.Equal partsnobullshitandcompletebullshitter,hehasneverwaveredfromwhoheis

—amanofmid-’80sMidwesternroots,whereyourwordandasolid

handshakemeantsomething.Thereisnohalf-assedwithDraplin.Ifhe

commitstoyou,he’llbethereuntilthejobisdone,andthefinishedproduct

willmakeyoufeellikeyoujustwonthelottery(thekindoflotterywherethe

checkisdeliveredbyabearofamanwearingnothingbutboxershortsanda

blown-outFlamingLipsT-shirt).

ArlieJohnCarstens,Writer&Musician

Today,mostpeoplearejusttryingtofigureouthowtoexistintheirownskin

—howtomove,howtodress,whattoeat,howtolove.Withalltheadsand

culturalsignifierswhirlingaround,decipheringwhatanythingisreallyabout

issometimesawfullyhard.ThethingaboutAaronDraplinisthis—he’sakid

fromMichiganwhousedtowashdishesontrainsinAlaska.He’sinaweofthe

humanexperience.Hemarvelsattheimprobabilityofourbeautiful,

complicatedexistence.Hedrivesaround,picksthroughtheephemera,thinks

aboutlifeandgetsexcitedaboutthethingsthatothersjustcan’torwon’tallow

themselvestosee.Hisworkremindsusthatweallcomefromsomewhere.

Moreimportantlyhe’slivingproofthatwecanhelpeachothergetsomewhere

furtherdowntheline.Whetherlayingoutworkorgivinghistalks,Draplin

understandsthatvisualcommunicationisnotjusttypesetsandvectorartona

digitalscreenoradvertisementsdesignedtosellproducts.Rather,it’san

attempttoconveyafeeling,tobreachisolation,tocommunicateideasandgive

expressiontothechemistryofcommonlife.

FredGreen,SocialWorker&Artist

IknewAaronwhenhewasmakinghisfirstT-shirts,stickersandlogos.And

despiteourfranticwrestlinganddrinkingsessionstryingtoproveour

emergingmanhood,Iknewbackthenthatnotonlywouldmyfriendbe

successfulbutthathewouldgrowintogreatnessandinfluencegenerations.

Thatbeingsaid,I’mstillreadytokickhisassanyandeveryday.Salute,

brother.

AndyCruz,HouseIndustries

Withamiddlefingerthatrivalsthestrengthofhisworkethic,AaronhasZip-

Strippedboththepretentiouslayerandtheglossycorporatefinishoffof

graphicdesignandexposedthegenuinebeautyofcommercialart.Butlet’snot

gointoaesthetics.ThemostimpressivethingI’veseenDraplindesignishis

qualityoflife.

CharlesS.Anderson,CSADesign

Idon’tactuallyrecallhiringAaron.HisbuddyP.J.wasaninternforusatthe

timeandIthinkhejustshowedupwithhimonedayandstartedworking.Over

thedecadeswe’vehadmanyinternsworkwithustohelpbuildtheCSAImages

archive.Manyofthemviewedscanningimagesasnothingmorethanmindless

gruntwork.Aaronwasdifferent.Heimmediatelygraspedthattheprinted

paperscrapshewasscanningrepresentedacrosssectionofthemostamazing

imagesfromthehistoryofgraphicdesign,illustrationandtype,andthatfor

everyimageselectedathousandhadbeenrejected.Aaronalsobeganto

understandourapproachtodesignandrealizedthatinsteadofalways

beginningtheprocesswithablankslate,hecouldalsogaininspirationfrom

thepastandbuildontheshouldersofdesignerswho’vegonebefore.As

evidencedbythisbook,Aaronwentontobecomeanimmenselytalented

designer.InadditiontohisconsiderabledesignskillsishisGod-givengiftfor

storytelling,whichhasmadehimoneofthemostdynamic,entertaining,

humorousandhumblespeakersthegraphicdesignprofessionhaseverknown.

SomehavemistakenlyviewedAaron’sgregarious,larger-than-lifepersonality

assomesortoffabricatedcharacter,oraninventedpersona.Havingknown

Aaronfromtheverystartofhiscareer,Icanattestthathe’sthegenuinearticle,

andI’mgladtocallhimacolleagueandafriend.IhavenodoubtthatAaron’s

dadisveryproudofeverythinghe’sachieved,andiswatchingoverhimright

now,smilingdownfromheaven.

Ryan“Ryno”Simonson,SS/CF AlotofpeopletellstoriesaboutgoingonvacationtoplaceslikeParisor Cozumel.I’msurethey’rereallycute.Whatever.Iprefertoendupinplaces

likeErwin,Tennessee.YouknowwhattheydidinErwin,Tennessee,in1916?

Theylynchedafuckingelephantwithacrane.Andtheystillbragaboutit.Why

weremeandDraplininErwin,Tennessee?Becauseitwasthere,andweran

intoit.Justlikethepink,apocalypticroadsideshrineinMississippi;thegreasy

dinerinKermit,WestVirginia,wherethatpackofrednecksstaredusdown

fromthebackboothwhilewenervouslyatelunch;thelandfilloutsideofCastle

Dangerwherewesleptunderthestarsandwokeupwithchunksofoldclay

pigeonspokingusintheback;andthecreepycrucifixoutinthedesert,where

that1,200-poundlonghorntriedtoramthecar.Thegoodstuff,andthefucked-

upstuffandthedirtystuffthatgetsunderyourfingernailsisoutthere.Most

peopleavoiditaltogether,nevergettingofftheinterstateorleavingtheir

resorttofindit.AaronDraplin’sthekindofguywhogoeslookingforthedirt

andtherust.He’stheguywhotradesintheswivelchairforabucketseatand

themouseforasteeringwheelandgetsatit.Andthat’swhyhe’sabetter

designer,andwaycoolerthanmostoftheassholeswhoarereadingthis.Hell,

that’swhyyou’rereadingthis.

P.J.“Hoss”Chmiel,FreehandArtist Aaronisararecombination:theearnestnessofaMarkBorchardt,thework ethicofaJohnHenry,theno-frillsauthenticityofanoldCarhartt,thewitofan AndrewDiceClay,theartisticchopsofaBobRoss,thequiethumilityofa FreddieBlassie,thegenerosityofadotinggrandmother,thecharismaofatent revivalpreacher,thephysicalpresenceofaRandall“Tex”Cobbandthe businessacumenofanEarlScheib.WemetatMCAD,bothskateratdesigners fromMichiganwhoworshippedCharlesS.Anderson.Wedidscannertime togetheratCSA,andDraplinwastheonlyinternwhocouldtalkasmuchas Chuck—andwithasmuchpassion.Hesethissightshighandhasworkedlikea

fuckingmadman,seventy-plushoursaweeksincethe1990s,toearnhisplace

standingshouldertoshoulderwithhisdesignheroes.

PatBridges,CreativeDirector,Snowboarder

AaronJamesDraplinisamanofideals.Thereisanunderlyingpracticalityto

everythingheisdrawnto,aswellaseverythinghedoes,withtheexceptionof

gamblingonroulette.ImetDraplinatatimewhenwewerebothoutsiders.We

instantlybondedovertheReplacements.Draplinisn’tagraphicartist,heisa

graphicdesigner.ThedifferencebeingthatDraplincreatesvisualtoolswith

purpose.WhilesomeofAaron’seffortshavebeeninthenameofthegreater

good—theemblemforRecovery.govforexample—otherprojectstakeonless

weightyduties,likeconveyingtheemotionofanalbum.Thicklines

distinguishDraplin’seffortsfromhisdesignpeers.Whetheritisalayout,icon

orlogo,Aaronwillinfuseitwiththicklines.Why?Because,likeAaron

himself,thicklinesconveyconviction,arepractical,lackambiguityandgetthe

jobdoneefficiently.AaronJamesDraplin,athicklineofahumanbeing.

EvanRose,WorldChampionSnurfer

“Waituntilyoumeetthisguy.”Thatlinecamefuriouslyandfrequentlyfrom

themouthsofmanycompadresbeforeIhadtheopportunitytomeetDraplin.

Whentheintroductioncametobe,hesurelyliveduptotheforewarning—as

Draplinisthetypeofguyyouexpecttomeetwhenagoodfriendlooksatyou

andsays,“Waituntilyoumeetthisguy.”Furthermore,ifithelps,thefriend

whointroducedmetoDraplinwasalsointroducedtomeyearsbeforewiththe

line“Waituntilyoumeetthisguy.”So,ifyou’rea“thisguy”typeofguy,then

yousurelyunderstandtheessenceofwhatI’mtryingtosay.

JeffBaker,Photographer&Publisher

Aaronusedtoalwaysremindmethat“hehasmorecreativityinhispinkie

fingerthanIdoinmywholebody.”Well,thatmightbetrue,butwhatAaron

hasneverrealizedisthat,alltheseyearsthathe’sbeencomparingmetohis

littlestump,heshouldhavebeencomparingmetosomethingdifferent—his

heart.SoI’mheretosaythatcreativityisnothisbesttrait.It’shisheartandhis

compassionforlife.Hisfriendsandfamily.Hiswork.TheMidwest.I’vehad

thehonorofworkingwithAarononafewremarkableprojects.Snowboarder

magazine,Snowboardmagazineandcountlesssmallprojects,includingalogo

formyfirstborn,Mika.Andwhiledesignhasbeenthefoundationofour

friendship,it’shisheartandthesmileheputsonmyfacethattrulymakeshim

aspecialindividual.

Mike“Chief”Nusenow,SurfDonkey IwasintroducedtoAaronwhileIwasworkingatSnowboardermagazine.Our editor,MarkSullivan,knewAaronandthoughthewouldbeagreatartdirector forus.Itwasanincredibleexperiencetoworkalongsidehim,andthetalenthe broughttothemagazinewassignificant.Roughlytwentyyearslater,Ihave learnedthatdesignisAaron’saddiction.Heisanamazingdesignerandhewill

neverstop.ItdefineswhoAaronis,andIknowheis100percentthankfulfor

that.Helovesthelifethatdesignhasgivenhim.Hehasworkedincrediblyhard

forwhathehasaccomplishedanddownrightdeservesthisbook.Don’tletthe

famegettoyou,wahoo.

JaredEberhardt,Director&Photographer WhatcanIsayaboutDraplinthathehasn’talreadytoldyouandyour graduatingclass/localgraphicdesignclub/executivecreativedirector?First off,congratulationstoyouforbuyingthisbook.Youhavegreattaste,and,of course,thankyoutoAaronformakingthispinnacleofthoughtfulbeauty.I can’tseeitbecauseithasn’tactuallybeenprintedyet,butIcansaywith confidencethatyouboughtthebestorangebookofthiscentury,andit’san honortobeincludedinthisplaceinthebookthatyouarereadingmefrom.

Likelythissectionwas6-pointFuturauntilIwrotethat;nowit’ssurelybeen

changedto5.99-pointHelveticaNeuejusttobecontrary.Andthat’swhatit’s

beenlikeworkingwithhimonandoffforthelastnearlytwentyyears.The

processisalwayssomewherebetweenacelebrityroastandaLincoln–

Douglassdebate,thedifferencebeingthat,afterthehumiliationofhavingyour

projectbrief/musicaltaste/fashionsensescrutinized,youareleftholdinga

gorgeouslogo/layout/artifact.Aaron,forallhisgrandstanding,istoohumble

tosayit,butifIweretosumuphisphilosophyI’dsayit’ssomethinglikethis:

Agooddesignergivesyouwhatyouaskedforbutmakesitbetter.Agreat

designergivesyouwhatyouneed,fuckwhatyouaskedfor.IfDraplincares

aboutyou,you’llgetthelatter,evenifitmeansabloodbath.Afterallthistime,

Ihavetosay,he’salwaysbeenright.Lookingforwardtothenextone!

LarryNuñez,Writer&Stuntman

AaronDraplinwentfromasnowboarderfromMichiganwithartistic

tendenciesinhisteenstoacollege-educatedartistwholoathedsnowboarding

inhistwenties.Ifthat’snotironic,Idon’tknowwhatis.Nevertheless,hefound

whateverloveofitthatwasleftinhimtotakeajobdesigningasnowboard

magazineinSouthernCaliforniawithabunchofguyswhosay“dude”allthe

time(somethingelsehehates).ThenheleftfortheNorthwest,wherehestill

designedstuffforaheapofsnowboardbrandsandendedupmakinganother

snowboardmagazinewiththesamegroupofdudes!Doesn’tthisguylearn

anything?Well,eventuallyhewisedup

countrytellinghundredsofpunk-assdesignkidsnottodowhathedid.Orisit

todowhathedid?Shit,Ican’tkeeptrack.Anyway,hedidmostofitwithout

pantson.WhichI’msureheconsidersthemostimportantthing.

andnowhetravelsaroundthe

John“Goo”Phemister,Wilderness

Havingsatnexttothisguyformorethanadecade,Icanattesthe’sthereal

deal.I’vewatchedhimmakeasIliketosay,“somethingfromnothing”

countlesstimes,andit’sbeenamazingtosee.He’sgotoodlesoftalent,

gumptionandgenuinecharacterandheknowshowtoputitalltogetherand

makeitwork.Ofcoursethisincludesalotof“hotair”intheprocess,butthat’s

partofthedealwithDraplin.

DavidNakamoto,Wilderness/Multifresh

RiverboatGambler.Boaster.All-aroundasshole.Cardboardhoarder.Second-

most-proficientQuarkuserinPortland.Oneofmybestfriendsever.

BradScheuffele,CoalHeadwear

Backin2003,IwasoneofDraplin’sfewsideprojects,somethinghetookon

outsideofhisregular9to5.“Normal”foruswasworkingthroughthenight,

hurlinginsultsbackandforthuntilthesuncameup—thekickerbeingthatit

neverfeltlikework;itwasalwaysjusttwobuddiestalkingaboutourformative

yearsofskateboardingandsnowboarding.Conceptswereneverpitched;our

collaborationwasintuitive,naturalandorganic.DDChasremainedanintegral

componentofCoal’saestheticforoveradecade,partlybecauseIviewAaron’s

designworkthesamewayIdostyle:Youcan’tbuyitandit’simpossibletobe

taught;youeitherhaveitoryoudon’t.Aaronhasit.

MartinoFumagalli,UnionBindingCo.

WhenIthinkofAaronbringmebacktoalltheMAGIChappenonhis

basement,pantsoff,visionandcreativityandallthepowerinasimpleField

Noteslittlebook.Idea,sketches…Boom!Magictakelifeinourproductand

completeeverything.Thanksforallhardworkandpassion.

JimCoudal,CoudalPartners&FieldNotes

ImetAaronthroughamutualloveofaproperlykernedheadline,practicalno-

nonsenseAmericandesignandtheimportanceofagoodstory,well-told.As

wecametoknoweachotherweconspiredonanumberofsmallprojectsand

foundthatworkingtogetherwaseasyandrewarding.Wetookachanceand

decidedtostartabusinesscalledFieldNotes,andbuildingthathasbeenjust

aboutthemostfunIeverhadinmycareer.That’sdue,innosmallpart,to

Aaron’sdesigntalent,endlesspassion,andfierceloyalty.IcansaythatI’ma

betterbusinessmanforhavinghimasapartner.And,moreimportant,I’ma

betterpersonforhavinghimasafriend.

WillyVlautin,Musician&Author

Aaron’ssavedmyasssomanytimesIfeellikeI’vealwaysknownhim.Ithink

hetookonRichmondFontaineasafavor,likefeedingthehomeless.I’mlucky

ashellthathedid.Hehelpsdirectmybookcovers,designstherecordcovers

andposters.Hell,nowweevensellgoodamountsofmerch’causetheshirtshe

designslooksodamncool.He’sacrazedgeniuswhojustpulledoverand

pickedupastrugglingband,gaveusallahaircutandacool-lookingsetof

clothesanddidhisparttokeepusstumblingalong.

DaleAllenDixon,MasterJunker

Herearethreethingsthat95percentofdesignersdon’thavethatAarondoes:

(1)WorkEthic:Hesitsinfrontofhisgoddamncomputertwelvehoursaday,

andifheisnotinfrontofthatheisdoodlinginhisnotebook.It’sdone

wondersforhishealthandsocialskills.(2)Passion:Hehasbeenintodesign

sincehewasachild.Heseesthingsthatmostdesignersdon’trealizeareeven

there.(3)Salesmanship:Hisfatherwasamazingatitandheis,too.It’shisbest

quality—theartofbullshitting.SosetdownyourAppleproductsandunfollow

yourblogsandgogetarealjob.Draplin’sgotyoubeat,andtherearetoo

manyofyou.

KateBingaman-Burt,Educator&Designer OneoftheproudertitlesthatIhavewornisbeingthechiefoperatorofthe MississippiFieldNotesDistributionWarehouse(aka:Hesentmeabigboxof

FieldNoteswaybackin2006orsoandtoldmetohandthemouttomy

MississippiStatestudents).Thatsweet,sweetgenerositycontinuedwhenI

movedtoPortlandin2008andconnedhimintotalkingtooneofmyclassesat

PortlandStateforthefirstofMANYtimes.Prettysurehehadn’tstarteddoing

ANYtalksyet,buthewassupergametohangoutandthrowoutFieldNotes

andpencilsandfreakingcoinpursesandamazingadvicetomytenstudents

likeacrazedRipTaylorthrowingoutconfetti.Theywentnutsandhaven’t

stoppedbeingnutsabouthimsince.METOO.

VinLaVecchia,Instrument

AaronDraplinis100percentuniqueinhisfieldandasahuman.He’sdeeply

talentedanddeeplyconflicted.Hebelievesinwhathe’sdoingwholeheartedly,

buthewondersiftherestofusarealljustdoingitwrong.Aaronis100

percenthonestineveryway.He’sopenedhimselfupandgivenupalarge

portionofhislargelifetoexposepeopletohisuniqueways.Toreachoutand

teachpeopleaboutwhatreallymatters.Tocallbullshitoneverything“they”

tellyou,andtogiveeverykidadoseofdesignreality.Greatdesigncanbe

donewithoutpantson.Greatdesigncanbedoneatallhoursoftheday.Great

designcanbedoneatthree-hundred-pluspounds.Greatdesigncanbedonein

lessthantwentyminutes(ifyou’regoodenough).Thisbookneedstobemade

tomemorializeamomentindesignculturewhenacompleterebeloutsider

upendedtheestablishmentandshowedwhataneverydaydudecandowitha

computer,apassionforjunkingandsolidMidwesternvalues.

EricHillerns,GraphicDesigner

LikeDraplinhimself,thisthingis100%Prime.Generouslymarbled.Fullof

flavor.Equalpartstenderandfirmintheareasthatcount.Ageddry.And

becauseit’snosecretthatthebestcutsbeginwiththefineststock,thewriter

andsubjecthere—Aaron,noless—oweshisownchoicegradetothosefrom

whichhewasreared:thelitheandlovelyMissLaurenandtheimmortalold

bullhimself,BigJim.SoI’dreckonitbestyousityourassondown.Graba

steelyknife,arubberbibandletitfeedyourappetite.Youwon’tsoonforget

theabundantmouthfeel.

MikeDavis,BurlesqueNorthAmerica

InSeptember2008,IwasstandinginfrontoftheWorld’sLargestCollection

ofGiantShoesinSeattle’sPikePlaceMarketwhenIsawamysterious503

numbershowuponmyphone.Iansweredandwasgreetedbytheunmistakable

voiceofthegraphicdesignerwhoseworkI’dbeenadmiringforyears.Hetold

mehewantedtosendmesomeimagesofsomeFirstDayofIssueenvelopesso

Icouldsharethemonmydesignblog.Itwasasmallgesture,butspoke

volumesaboutoneofthehardest-workingandmostgenerouspeopleinour

community.Aaronissuccessfulbecausehegenuinelycaresaboutdesign.He’s

eagertolearn,eagertocreateandeagertoshare.Heloveswhathedoes,and

thatloveshowsthroughineverysinglevectorpointandpixelthatleaveshis

desk.Graphicdesignerlaureate,thisguy.

LeighMcKolay,Educator&Shipper

AsAaron’sgirlfriendforeightyearsnow,Ikindofwounduprunningthe

fulfillmentpartofDDCoutofnecessity.AaronworksALOT.That’swhathe

does.Hewas/isvery,verybusy,andneededhelpastheordernumbersgrew

andgrew.Thebigrevealofacareerincommercialartisthatthereisanend

product—andiftherewassomeequationwherewecouldpluginhoursspent,

numberoficons,logos,identitiesandpiecesofartcreated,“n”wouldequal“a

book.”TheincredibleamountofworkthatAaron’sproducedreallycouldfill

SEVERALbooks.Iassumethatishowthestorywillunfold.

MikeWhitehead,Finex

Ihadjustmortgagedeverythingtofoundanewcompanyandneededareal

graphicdesignerwillingtorollthediceonme.Problemwas,Ididn’tknow

oneanymorethanIknowagoodtattoo-removalguy.Wordonthestreetwas

thatDDCwassolid,andhowbusycouldtheybe?Wrong.Noreply.SoIdid

whatanypotentialclientwoulddo.Iposedasaninmateseekinggraphicdesign

helpforourprisonnewsletter.Boom!Myphoneringsfromaguynamed

wantingtoknowwhothefuckIam.Therestishistory.Finexisnowanational

brandcarriedinhundredsofstoresaroundthecountry.Idon’thavetotellyou

thatAaronisgood,butIcantellyouafewthingsaboutwhyheisgood.Heis

goodbecauseheworksalot.Heisproofthatifyoudowhatyoulove,youdo

italotandhaveadecentshotatmastery.Nowmultiplythatfocusbyhistalent.

Heisgoodbecausehereallylistenstohisclients.Henevertoldmewhatmy

brandshouldbe.Heonlyaskedathousandquestionsandpointedoutthe

inconsistenciesinwhatIwastryingtosay.Butmostimportant,Aaronisgood

becauseheisagoodguy,andthatisinseparablefromhisbodyofwork.We

don’tchooseourfamilies,butifyouareluckyenoughtochoosewhoyou

workwith,AaronDraplinisadamngoodchoice.

GrowingUp

“Abeautifulsmalltown

upbringing.”

WithmylittlesisterSarahBarahPumpkinPie,CentralLake,MI.1978.

WithmylittlesisterSarahBarahPumpkinPie,CentralLake,MI.1978.

HumbleBeginningsinDetroit,Growing

UpinCentralLakeandThenPlotting

MyEscapefromTraverseCity

IwasborntoJimandLaurenDraplinonOctober15,1973,atGraceHospital

inthenorthwestsectionofDetroit.MomsaysIwas“eightpounds,three ounces”andthatthelabortook“twenty-sixandahalfhours,anditwasworth

it.”Thestorygoes,Dadwasintheprocessofrebuildinga’54Chevy.“He

boughtasecondoneforparts.Anditjustsohappenedtocoincidewithyour birth.AndIhadsomecomplications.Iwasinthehospitalforninedays.That gavehimtheopportunitytostripthesecondcarofparts.Hencethejoke‘I

gavebirthtoyouandDadgavebirthtoa’54Chevy.’”

Alwaysthesticklerfordetails,IaskedMomwhereIwasconceived,andshe

gavemeasidewaysglanceandhadthistosay:“Areyouserious?Okaythen.

Thatwould’vebeenonthewaybackfromCalifornia.Ithinkitwassomewhere

inNewMexicoorAmarillo,Texas.”Justthefacts,people.Aboutthattrip,

Momofferedthislittletidbit:“Weweredrivingthroughabigcanyon,tooka

wrongturnandwhatIthoughtwaslightningturnedouttobeabigmeteor.Itlit

theskyuplikeitwasday.Ihadnever,everseensomethinglikethat.Itwas

beautiful.Yourdadwaslike,‘Holyshit!’”Cosmicbeginnings!

LivinginDetroit

MomwasahomemakerafterIwasborn,and,beforeIcamealong,asecretary

atChryslerinSouthfield.DadwasanelectricianatGreatLakesSteel

downriverinRiverRouge.IcanstillrememberpickingDadupafterhisshift.

Therewasabigmetalwalkwaywithasetofstairsthatemptiedoutintothe

parkinglot.AndMomandIwouldwaitthereforhimandI’dgocrazywhenI

sawhim.“Youwouldbesoexcited.Ican’tbelieveyourememberhimcoming

downthosestairs,”saidMom.

Mom’ssideofthefamilywasledbyGrammaLeoinWixom,withallmyaunts

andunclescloseby—UncaPat,UncaMike,AuntMary,UncaTerryandUnca

Kevin.Mydad’smom,GrammaJosie,livedinDearborn,withUncleTomand

AuntieBarbarainSouthfieldandUncleBobandAuntieChrisinWestland.I

rememberacoupleelaboratecampingtripstoTobermory,Ontario,withDad,

UncleTomandhisboys.Andhowcoldthewaterwas.Let’sjustsayyour

“hardware”wouldbasicallyretreatinsidetowardwarmth.Therewasalotof

talkaboutgreatadventureswhilefishingforsurbotsonFarkusLake.Allof

whichI’dcometolearnwasentirelyfictional,ofcourse.

LeavingDetroit

FromMom:“Ultimately,wedidn’twantyoukidsshoveledontobusestogoto

schoolinDetroitsuburbs.ThingswerechangingsofastinDetroitandwe

wouldn’tbeabletosendyoutoschoolsinourneighborhood.Plus,therewas

onetimewhenwewerecomingfromdinneratGrammaJosie’s

ababy,thetwoofyouwereinyourcarseats,andwhenweturnedonto Tireman,someoneshotaBBgunatourPinto,shatteringthebackwindow.It scaredthehelloutofus.That’swhenwereallystartedtotalkaboutleaving. Then,throughoneofyourdad’srandompaintingsidejobs,hemetArchie Noorian.HesaidthatDadwasa‘naturalsalesman’andofferedhimajob sellingindustrialtoolingtotoolshops.Dadtookthejobandstartedgoing moreandmorenorth,uptowardGaylordandTraverseCity.Welovedto vacationupthere,andstartedlookingforaplacetorentinTraverseCity,but couldn’tfindanything.MycousinBonnielivedinCentralLake.Wefounda housethereforagoodprice,whichwasjustforty-fiveminutesfromTraverse City.”Thisiswheremymemorystarts,moreorless.Ourlittlehouseonthe

corner,justablockfromMainStreetinCentralLake.Population:1,000.

Sarahwas

GradeSchool Ilookbackatmychildhoodwithathankfulpause—Ihaditreallygood growingup.Ihadadadandamomwholovedmysiblingsandmeandbuiltus

agreathomelife.IgrewupwithmylittlesisterSarah,whowasbornin1975.

MybabysisterLeah,camealongin1983.

CentralLakewasthekindoflittletownsmallenoughthatyoucouldrideyour BMXbikefromendtoendinaboutfifteenminutes.Buttoaten-year-old,the townfeltenormous!FrommyhousedowntoC-Foods?Oneortwosmall blocks.Downtothebaitshop?Sixtosevensmallblocks.Bigdistances!Hell, themiddleandhighschoolwaslessthanablockawayfromourhouseon BrooksStreet.Justtwoblockstothegradeschool.Ihadthirtykidsinmyclass,

allthewayfromthatfirstdayinkindergartenin1978,untilIleftinthespring

of1987.

Favoritethingsfrommyyouth:Legos,AdventurePeople,StarsWarsaction

figures,G.I.Joes,drawing,ridingbikes,playing“guns”inthewoods,

Saturdaymorningcartoons,HotWheelscars,workingatmylittleworkbench

whileDadwasworkingathisbigworkbench,SaturdayNightLive,The

Flintstones,TheBradyBunch,Diff’rentStrokes,Bigfootlore,hangingoutwith

myoldercousinPatrick,playingbaseballinthesummers,playingfootballin

thefall.

IhavesomanygreatmemoriesgrowingupinCentralLake:Christmas

morningswithmylittlesisters;snowmobiling;familyroadtripstoFlorida;

swimminginTorchLakeandLakeMichigan;drivingdowntoDetroitfor

holidayget-togethers;summerrentalcottagesonIntermediateLake;thetime

RonnieandIwerecleaningoutreedsnearthesandbarandgotleechesonour

legsandballs;Mom’sbasket-weavingandthesmellofthereedssoakingin

water;cuttingwoodontheeightyacresinAldenwithDad,GaryandRonnie;

playingLittleLeaguebaseballandmakingtheall-starteamacoupleyearswith

RonnieandBrent;kickingKalkaska’sassthatonetime;sandlotfootball

games;travelingwiththefootballandbasketballteamsasamanager;making

snowfortswithDadinourbigbackyard;climbingthebigtreebetweenour

houseandtheYoungedykes’;gettingstungintheeyebyacoupleofnasty

hornetswhileDadwasuponaladderpainting;theanticipationofourannual

FourthofJulyfestivalsandfireworks.Itwasyourbasicall-Americansmall-

townkindofyouth.

Forthearchaeologists:SomewherenearmygradeschoolisastackofPlayboy

magazines,buriedawaysinceabout1981.Nearwherethecreekwentunderthe

road,uptowhereyouweredroppedoffforschool.Somekidstolethemfrom

hisdadandthat’sallI’vegotonthematter.

MiddleSchool

Middleschoolformewasprobablyasawkwardasanyoneelse’sexperience.I

triedmyhandatalittlebitofbasketball,whichdidn’tpanoutsowell.Still

hopefultoplayfootballinhighschool,Ihadallbutphasedsportsoutofmy

life.Ididastintwithsomeschoolgovernmentbutdidn’thavethetastefor

seventh-gradepolitics.AnneWesterlundandLindaRichardsonpushedmeinto

asmanyartclassesasCentralLakeoffered.

Likeanyruraltown,coolstuffwouldtrickleinhereandthere.Iwasakidof

theearly’80s,withMTVleadingthecharge.LikeallMidwesternkids,we

wereintoxicatedwith“Californiaculture.”OceanPacificshorts,PanamaJack

hatsandSwatchwatches.BMXPlus!wasthemagazineIstudiedfromcoverto

cover.Itscomic,“RadicalRick,”wasmyfavorite!Thebikebrandlogos,

numberplatesandstickers:theseweremyfirstintroductionsto—forlackofa

betterterm—“actionsports.”I’djustcallit“thecoolstuff.”Inmyseventh-

gradeyear,IgotaHaroFSTfreestylebikeandstartedreadingFreestylin’ magazine.Themagazinesweremyconnectiontoeverything.FromBMXto

freestylebikes,andthenmyveryfirstskateboardin1986.Therewasacertain

dangertoallthisstuff,andyoucouldtelltheart,languageandmoveswere

fromthehandsofthekidswhowereinventingthestuffalongtheway.That

wasdifferentfromorganizedsports.Youweren’tgonnafindthecoolshiton

ABC’sWideWorldofSports,youknow?Yearslater,IgottomeetMark“Lew”

Lewman,oneoftheoriginaleditorsofFreestylin’.It’soneofthosecool

momentswhereyoumeetaheroandrealizeyouareoneofthem.

K-MartphotoshootwithDad.1974.

K-MartphotoshootwithDad.1974.

1976.

1976.

Sweetpart,man.1985.

Sweetpart,man.1985.

BMXbandit.1983.

BMXbandit.1983.

Ihadaclosecallin1986,almostdyinginanaccidentwithmyhighschool

buddyTimMoxinhisshittylittleChevyCitation.Ibrokeacoupleribs,

crackedmypelvisandhadstitchesinmychinandelbow.Irememberputting

myseatbeltonthatmorningafterjumpingintoTim’scar.Thatlittlebeltsaved

mylife,andIthinkaboutthateachtimeIforgettosnapthatbeltablockaway

fromthehouseorshop.Wearyourseatbelts,youscrubs!

WemovedtoTraverseCityinApril1987.Movingisalwayshardonakid.I

leftthecomfortandfriendsofoursmalltown,anddidn’tquiteappreciatewhat

MomandDadsawforusinTraverseCity.Theyknewitheldbetter

opportunities,andwithinayearIstartedtoseewhattheysaw.Theytooksome

flackfrommysistersandmeforthatbigmove,butI’msothankfulfortheir

foresight.Thatlittleleapopenedusuptotheworldthatmuchmore.

HighSchool

IstartedninthgradeatSt.FrancisHighSchool.Completewithdresscodesand

thewholedogmaticnineyards.AsmuchasMomandDadhopedSt.Francis

wasthepremiumoptionforTraverseCity,Iquicklyfoundoutitwasmoreor

lessjustanothersmallschoolbutwithacouplenunshammeringonyouto

learnthesacraments.St.Franciswasthelaststopintownforthebadkidsfrom

thepublicschool,too,sowehadacoupleofthoseincorrigibles.Ikeptto

myself.IlovedmypizzajobatCrustedCreations,wasintodrawingand

skateboardinganddiscoveredheavymetalandpunkrock.Inonelastattemptat

organizedsports,Itriedoutforthejuniorvarsityfootballteam,excitedto

finallyplaythesportIlovedasakid.Imadeitthroughthe“conditioning

phase,”whereyourununtilyoupuke,andgotontheteam.Iwassmallfora

ninth-grader,justthirteenandalatebloomer.Imadeitthroughtheseason,just

barely.Dadwouldn’tletmequit.Irememberbeingsorelievedwhenthatshit

wasdone.

IwasatSt.Francismyninth-andtenth-gradeyearsandmadetheleapto

TraverseCitySeniorHighin1989.Iwentfromsixtykidsinmyclasstoseven

hundred.NowIcouldblendinandnotbesingledoutforbringingmy

skateboardtoschool.IrememberthatbeingsomethingriskyatSt.Francis.

MeatheadjocksfuckingwithmeasIwalkeddownthehall.

PublicschoolofferedaplaceIcouldhideout.IfellinwithkidsIknewfrom

summersskateboardingaroundTraverseCity.Ihadanarmyjacketwithahole

inthepocketfortheheadphonescordtosnakedownintomyWalkman.I

alwayshadthatthingon,blastingtheDeadKennedys,Fugazi,BlackFlagand

Metallica.

Ichosepunkrock.Andthatwasdaring.Itwasn’taboutthemusicortheT-shirt

graphicsasmuchasitwasabouttheabilitytothinkforyourself,beingfree

fromtheconventionalteenagepitfalls,andultimatelytomakeyourownlife

exactlywhatyouwantedittobe.Itwaspunktometobecompletelydrug-free.

Allthekidsweremessingaroundwiththelatestshitandgettingintrouble.I

rememberacoppullingmeoverwhileIwasdeliveringpizza,withmylong

hairandall.Hestartsin,fullygrillingme.AndthenwasflooredwhenIlooked

himintheeyeandcalledhimonhisbluff.“Searchthecar,man.Youaren’t

gonnafindanything.Thesepizzasaregettingcold.”Iwasconfidentandin

completecontrolofmylittleworld.Hepaused,abitstunned,gavemebackmy

licenseandtoldmetofinishmydelivery.

Skateboardgraphicswereeverythingtome.JimPhillipsandhisSantaCruz

decksweremyveryfavorite.Ilearnedhowtoinkstuff,emulatinghisstyle,re-

creatingJasonJesseeandJeffGrossographicsinmysketchbooks.That transferredintozines,griptapeartandhomemadeskate-andsnowboard

videos.IworeholesinmyfavoriteSlimeBallsT-shirtthesummerof1989.

TheCircleJerksweremyfirstpunkrockshow!Slammedupagainstthestage

atSt.Andrew’sHallscreaming,“Living,justliving!”withKeithMorris?The

coolest.WhenpeopleaskmewhereIgrewup,Iliketosay,“Icomefromabig

ButtholeSurferscommunity.”Friendswereexperimentingwithallsortsof

substances.Irememberthetrayofdrugslaidoutonafriend’skneesinthe

backseatofthecarwhileracingdownstatetoseetheButtholeSurfersatthe

LatinQuarter.Nameswithheld,ofcourse.Ididn’thaveasiportokeof

anythinguntilmyfirstyearincollege.Drugsweretooscary.Plus,kids

downingbottlesofRobitussinforabuzz?Thatwasalwaysalittletoo

desperateforme.

Igraduatedfromhighschoolin1991.Onourgraduationnight,agroupofus

werehighatopWayneHill,overlookingthecityasthesuncameup.Talking

aboutwhatwewantedtodo.Halfofthegroupwasheadingofftostateschools;

theotherhalfhadnoplan.Iwasinthelatter.Iknewitwassomethingtodowith

art.Theplacementteststhatsummerpointedmetowardvisualcommunications

atNorthwesternMichiganCollege.Rightoutofhighschool,weheardstories

ofkidsmovingtoColoradotosnowboardallwinter.Temptation!AndIalmost

tookthebait.MyfriendRodSnellhaditalllinedup,andwewerebreaking

downrentandseason-passprices,soexcited.ButIalsohadMomandDad

danglingcommunitycollegeinfrontofme.“Justgofortwoyearsandgetan

associatesdegree,andthengowest,”theypleaded.Icouldn’tpassitup.I

decidedtostay.

GettingMyAssociatesDegree IwasseventeenwhenIstartedatNorthwesternMichiganCollegeinthefallof

1991.Grungehadjustexploded.IrememberhowgreatNirvana’s“DrainYou”

soundedatfullblastinmyhunk-of-shittwo-doorBuickSkyhawkonthewayto

school.Mytwoyearstherewentprettyquick.Itwasthisall-inclusive

introductiontothegraphicartsworld.Ilearnedhowtodrawnakedpeople,

takeanddeveloppictures,drawinpainstakingperspective,paint,hand-

letteringwords,styleofRomanarchitecture,writeapaperandusecomputer

drawingprogramstodrawthingsinvectorform.Thisiswhereitstarted.

Icameinjustontheprecipiceofwherethepaste-upworlddroppedoffandthe

newfangledcomputerworldexploded.Imissedthatfabledcutoffbyabouta

year.AndIloveddoingittheoldwaywiththetrimmed,waxedparagraphs,

Rubylithandkeylinesandshit.Therewassomethingtechnicalandalmost

architecturalaboutallofit.Butthatwastheoldway.Computersweretaking

overwithwavesofskilledpaste-upandtypesettingfolkssuddenlyobsolete.It

washeartbreaking,andalltheseyearslaterIunderstandwhataweirdtimefor

designthatmust’vebeenforthosefolks.

OnceIhadmyassociatesdegreecomplete,westartedsavingourcashtohead

outwest.Iwasnineteenyearsoldandreadyforourbigadventure.

“Favoritethingsfromgrowingup,rightupuntilwehittheroadwest.”

“Favoritethingsfromgrowingup,rightupuntilwehittheroadwest.”

HighSchool

HighSchool EmulatingtheincomparableJimPhillips’groundbreakingSantaCruzskateboardgraphics. 1988.

EmulatingtheincomparableJimPhillips’groundbreakingSantaCruzskateboardgraphics.

1988.

Alwayshadasketchbookgoing.1987-1997.

Alwayshadasketchbookgoing.1987-1997.

DrapZine .1990.

DrapZine.1990.

HeadingdowntotheHashBashwithRickHarker,JayMoncelandTrevorBeardsley.I-75. 1991.

HeadingdowntotheHashBashwithRickHarker,JayMoncelandTrevorBeardsley.I-75.

1991.

MomthoughtIwasfaking.1987.

MomthoughtIwasfaking.1987.

St.FrancisJuniorVarsity#65.1987.

St.FrancisJuniorVarsity#65.1987.

CarvingatEatConcrete,Omaha,Nebraska.1990.

CarvingatEatConcrete,Omaha,Nebraska.1990.

NMCgraduationparty.1993.

NMCgraduationparty.1993.

TBACareerTechCenterjitters.1989.

TBACareerTechCenterjitters.1989.

RareshotwithBrianJohnsen,justbeforethemorningbell.1990.

RareshotwithBrianJohnsen,justbeforethemorningbell.1990.

BryAleshirepresentinghishandiworkatCrustedCreations.1990.

BryAleshirepresentinghishandiworkatCrustedCreations.1990.

LeavingtheNest

“Movesomewherewild.”

TherewereacoupleyounggirlsinaSaabthatkeptpassingBryandIthatdayinWyoming.And

TherewereacoupleyounggirlsinaSaabthatkeptpassingBryandIthatdayinWyoming.And

thatfinaltimetheypassedusup,Isnappedashot.ThiswasAugust12,1993.Ahotdayacross

thetopofWyoming.Weweremakinggoodtime.GoodenoughwhereIwokeuptoBrybeing

pulledoverandgettingaspeedingticketjustoutsideofGillette.Theworldseemedsobigthat

firstrunoutwest,onourown.Stilldoes,really.

MovingOutWest

Istillconsider“movingoutwest”asoneofmyfinestachievements.Growing upasnowboarder,IheardthestoriesoffriendsmovingouttoColoradotoget tothemountainsandthegoodsnow.Thefirstwaveofmybuddieswentin

1991.Iwantedtogosobad,buttookMomandDad’sadviceandjumpedinto

NorthwesternMichiganCollege.Iwouldbepursuinganassociatesdegreein

visualcommunications.I’dstillbelivingathome,doingpizzajobsinthefall,

atree-trimmingjobinthesummerandski-liftoperatorjobsatMountHoliday

overthewinter.ThetwoyearswentbyquickandIearnedmydegree.Wewere

readytogo.Icanstillfeeltheexcitementwehad,alltheseyearslater.

Whenitwastimetofinallygointhesummerof1993,Iwasjustnineteenyears

old.Justapup.Andtheworldexplodedforus.InmylittleCreativeMornings

talkIdidin2012,Itoldtheyoungstersinthecrowdto“movesomewhere

wild”whiletheystillcould.Ididitandamsothankfulwemadetheleap.

Bend,Oregon,wasourtarget.OurhighschoolbuddyDerekDenoyerhad madethejumpfromawinterinColoradoouttoOregon.Hisreportsbackto uswerewhatsealedthedeal.SomanyofourbuddieshadgonetoColorado. Bythetimeitwasourturn,itdidn’thavethesamemagic.Oregonsounded

mysterious!Andfaraway.Theanticipationduringthesummerof1993was

insane.BryandIworkedatafamilyrestaurantcalledSweitzer’s.Iwasafry

cookandBryabusboy.Wesavedeverysinglecentthatsummer.

I’llneverforgetleavingthatmorning.ItwasAugust10,1993.BryandIhad

packedmy’84BuickSkyhawkacoupledaysbeforeinanticipation.Ofcourse,

Dadtookonelookatourhalf-assedjob,hadmeemptythethingandrepacked

it.WegainedanothersizablechunkofspaceafterDad’srefinementofthe

packingjob.Thatmanknewhowtopackarig.

Whenitwastimetogo,everythinggotquiet.Iremembermylittlestsister

Leah,cryingfirst,andthenMom,andthenDadandhowhecompletelylostit.

I’llneverforgethowhardDadhuggedme.Ididn’twanttoletgo.That’soneof

thesaddest,andyetgreatest,momentsofmylife:MomandDadlettingmego.

Sopainful,butabsolutelybeautiful.Thankyou.

Ithinkthat’simportantforeveryratkidfromtheMidwest.Andeverywhere.

Ashardasthatwas,Ihadtodoit.Thiswastheclassic“leavingthenest”

moment.IremembercryingattheintersectionwhereBarnesRoadmeets

SilverLakeRoad,andkindofnotwantingtogo;carsliningupbehindme,

impatient.Wehadworkedthatwholesummer,pinedoverthepossibilitiesof

ournewlivesoutwest,andherewasthatbigmoment,andIwasseizingup.I

pulledoffBarnesanddownthebighillofSilverLake,anditwassurreal—

bothsadandoneofthemostexcitingmomentsofmylife.Downthehillto

grabBryathishouseonPineStreetandofftotheWest!

I’llrememberthatroadtripwithBrymywholelife.Everyplacewecamped,

lurked,ate

seemedsobig.Anditwas.

eachstatefallingawayaswemadeourwayoutwest.Thesky

WewentallthewaytoBend,Oregon,andlockedintoaleaseforashit

apartmentinaplacethatwe’dlearnthelocalscalled“FelonyFlats.”Thatfirst

winterofferedupsomuchforus.Welearnedhowtopayourbills,befrugal,

thumbridesuptothehilland,mostimportant,gowithout.We’dbuyour

seasonpasses,guaranteeingusaccesstothemountainandthat’sallthat

mattered.

Theprioritywastosnowboardeverydaywithallourbuddies.Weallhad

pizzajobsatnight,tocoverourminimalrentandexpenses.Ilivedthislifefor

fivewinters,snowboardingone-hundred-plusdaysayearinOregonandall

overtheWest,alongwithbigroadtripsacrossAmericaeveryfallandjaunts

downtoLasVegastolurkattheannualsnowboardingtradeshow.Thelast

coupleyears,westartedtoexploreoutsideofOregon.Bigroadtripswith

buddies,snowboardingatJacksonHole,TargheePass,MountBaker,Snowbird

andTelluride.We’dgouptoPortlandeverytwotothreeweekstoseebands

andhanginthecity,thenrideMountHoodMeadowsonthewayback.LaLuna

wasourplace.SawtheLemon-heads,Sebadoh,MonsterMagnet,Paw,theJesus

Lizard,Pavement,Hole,theMeatPuppets,GrantLeeBuffalo,Gwar,Builtto

Spill,ThirtyOughtSix,theJonSpencerBluesExplosion,theRedHouse

Painters,BossHog,theReverendHortonHeatandalittlePortlandbandcalled

RichmondFontaine,whowereopeningforMikeWatt.

Toyoungstersreadingthis:Saveyourmoneyandhittheroad.Whileyoustill

can.There’sjustsomethingmagicalaboutsplittingwhenyouareyoung.The

world,it’ssomuchbigger.Thebands,theysoundthatmuchbetter.Youaren’t

cynicalyet,andeverythingisnew.I’msothankfultothe

skateboard/snowboardculturethatpropelleduswest,outofTraverseCity.

Someneverleave,andwewereluckytobeableto.

It’stheolderbrotherswhodidit.GaryAleshireinspiredHaletogo.Hale

inspiredShumsky,Miner,Tad,Bug,MurrahandWallertogo.Thoseanimals

inspiredDerektogo,whoplantedtheseedinBryandme.AndEric,Johnny

andChadgotropedin,too.That’showthisstuffworks.Thanks,fellas.Wedid

itwhenitmattered.

Themorningweleft.Lastbitsofadvice,minutesbeforeeveryonelostit.August10,1993.

Themorningweleft.Lastbitsofadvice,minutesbeforeeveryonelostit.August10,1993.

BrywritinghisfirstletterbacktoTracey,somewhereinSouthDakota.August11,1993.

BrywritinghisfirstletterbacktoTracey,somewhereinSouthDakota.August11,1993.

EarlymorningmethodairacrossthestreetfromCinderCone.Mt.Bachelor,OR.1996.

EarlymorningmethodairacrossthestreetfromCinderCone.Mt.Bachelor,OR.1996.

Jay,Rod,Aaron,Chris,ChadandJ.P.1995.

Jay,Rod,Aaron,Chris,ChadandJ.P.1995.

RobbyHottoisblasting!Mt.Baker,WA.1995.

RobbyHottoisblasting!Mt.Baker,WA.1995.

Cow’sFace,Mt.Bachelor.1995.

Cow’sFace,Mt.Bachelor.1995.

HikingwiththeSolidSnowboardsteam.1995. WithChadSmithandJohnWhite.1994. WithDerekDenoyerandRobbieHottois.1994.

HikingwiththeSolidSnowboardsteam.1995.

HikingwiththeSolidSnowboardsteam.1995. WithChadSmithandJohnWhite.1994. WithDerekDenoyerandRobbieHottois.1994.

WithChadSmithandJohnWhite.1994.

HikingwiththeSolidSnowboardsteam.1995. WithChadSmithandJohnWhite.1994. WithDerekDenoyerandRobbieHottois.1994.

WithDerekDenoyerandRobbieHottois.1994.

HittingjumpsonCinderCone.1996.

HittingjumpsonCinderCone.1996.

TakingabreakintheMt.BachelorlodgewithChrisFinkandChadSmith.1996.

TakingabreakintheMt.BachelorlodgewithChrisFinkandChadSmith.1996.

Mt.Bachelorseasonpass.Winter1995/1996.

Mt.Bachelorseasonpass.Winter1995/1996.

Couchsurfinginsomeshitholetown.1994. WithDarrenandChadSmith,headingwest.1994.

Couchsurfinginsomeshitholetown.1994.

Couchsurfinginsomeshitholetown.1994. WithDarrenandChadSmith,headingwest.1994.

WithDarrenandChadSmith,headingwest.1994.

RevelingintheAnalog

Thosefirstcouplewintersoutwest,everybitofmyoutputwasanalog.I’d

drawonalltheletterenvelopesIsentbackhome.Ialwayshadasketchbook

goingandwoulddrawtheenvironmentaroundmefromthebackseatonroad

trips.

Thatspring,ItookapaintingclassatCentralOregonCommunityCollege.

“CockonaRock”iswhatthekidscalledtheplace.Iwasprimingmyselffor

whatIthoughtwouldbeatriumphantreturnbacktotheMidwesttocontinue

myeducation.Thatdidn’thappen.

Wehadourwaysofgettingcomputeraccessande-mail.Irememberabuddy,

oneFrankieBilello,wastakingclassesatCOCCandeitherdroppedoutorjust

sortofwasn’tgoingtoclass.We’dusethise-mailandpasswordstogettoget

access.Someofmyfirste-mailsweresentfromFrankie’saddress.“Francesco

Bilello!”Thelabwe’dbargealsohaddrawingprogramsonthecomputer.

PageMakerandFreeHand.I’dusePageMakertomakelittlebusinesscardsfor

myselfandthenwoulduseBerolPrismacolormarkerstocolorthemin.I’d

makefiftycardsorsoandwouldhandthemoutaroundtown.Irememberhow

preciousthetimeinthatlabwas.Ihadtobecarefulnottodrawattentionbut

stillgetallthestuffdone.

Computersweresoexpensive.TherewasnowayI’dbeabletoaffordoneon

themeagerlivingImadeinBend.Iwasasnowboardscrub,workingapizza

jobandhadacouplefreelanceillustrationgigshereandthere.

IdidmyfirstsnowboardgraphicforSolidSnowboardsinthefallof1993,

fromatipfromMattHale,ahighschoolbuddyandproriderontheSolid

team.Thatwasthefirstrealtastewiththisstuff.AndmaybeIcouldmakea

livingatit.

Variousillustrationsfrommystackofsketchbooks.PencilandIndiaink.1993-1999.

Variousillustrationsfrommystackofsketchbooks.PencilandIndiaink.1993-1999.

FiveByTen zine.Winter1994-1995.

FiveByTenzine.Winter1994-1995.

HowIkepttrackofeverything.FrenchPapersamplescrap.1996.

HowIkepttrackofeverything.FrenchPapersamplescrap.1996.

Sparkplugillustration.1995. JeffWastellgraphicforSolid.1994.

Sparkplugillustration.1995.

Sparkplugillustration.1995. JeffWastellgraphicforSolid.1994.

JeffWastellgraphicforSolid.1994.

Unsentenvelopeillustration.1994.

Unsentenvelopeillustration.1994.

Untitled.Acryliconcanvas.1994.

Untitled.Acryliconcanvas.1994.

MyfavoritepaintingfromthatonepaintingclassatCOCC.1994.

MyfavoritepaintingfromthatonepaintingclassatCOCC.1994.

Wasreallyintosparkplugsinthemid-’90s!Acryliconcanvas.1995.

Wasreallyintosparkplugsinthemid-’90s!Acryliconcanvas.1995.

Unfinishedpaintcollage.Acryliconcanvas.1994.

Unfinishedpaintcollage.Acryliconcanvas.1994.

SolidSnowboardsJeffWastellpromodel.1994.

SolidSnowboardsJeffWastellpromodel.1994.

MySummerasaCarny

Wewerecomingoffourfirstwinteroutwest.IcamebacktoMichiganinearly

May.MybuddyChadSmithfinallymadeitbackfromBendacoupleweeks

later,and,likeme,wasseekinggainfulemployment.Afteralongwinterof

makingpizzas,littledidweknowwe’dbe“doingI-talian”againallsummer

long.

MomandDadranintosomeoldfriendsfromCentralLake:RayandRose.Ray

wasabarrel-chested,fast-talkin’rabble-rouser;sortafamousfortearin’the

helloutofthatlittletownandmakingalltheconcernedfathers’shitlists.Rose

straightenedRayout,andtheywereslowlygrowingtheiramusementbusiness.

Theyhadacouplefoodcartsandrentedoutsomespaceinasmall,mid-

Michgan-basedtravelingcarnival.Theywerelookingforacoupleofnice

youngbuckstomantheirpizzawagonacrossthewayfromtheir

lemonade/corndogwagon.

IspokewithRayandweagreedon$250cashperweekend.Thatsounded

reallygoodthefirsttimeIheardit,thinking,$250bucksforFriday,Saturday

andSunday.Underthetable,too.Michigan-wideadventures.Carnychicks.Not

bad,andI’dgetatrucktodriveforthesummer.Iaccepted,andgotChadhired

on,too.

ThefirstcouplegigswereintheDetroitarea.Sothatmeantwehadtodrive

downthenightbeforewiththewagonintow.Thataddedanextradaytothe

“three-dayweekend.”Therewasalotofjockeyingofequipment,movingfrom

eventtoevent.RayandRosehadafifthwheeltheysleptin,sothey’ddrive

downseparately,withRosetowingthelemonadewagonandRaytowingtheir

summerhomeonwheels.Ittookacoupledaysjusttogetallthegeartothesite

andup-n-running.ThefinalpiecetoshowupwasthefifthwheelChadandI

sleptin.Itwashotandmusty,thebathroomsmelledofpissandtheshower

moreorlesspeedlukewarmwateronyou.Butthesewere“luxury

accommodations,”consideringtheshadyandsheistysleepingquartersoffered

upfortheragtagrosterofcarnies.We’llgettotheminacoupleparagraphs.

OurdayinthewagonconsistedofwakingupataboutnineA.M.toprepthe

dough,sauceandtoppings.Thawingthegoodswasacrucialstep.We’dmake

surethesodapopwasflowinglikeariver,too.Thecrowdswouldshowup

aroundtenA.M.,withthefirstcouplesliceshittin’thegumsatabouteleven.

ChadandIwouldstaggertheslowtime,offeringrelieftoeachotherevery

hour.TherewouldbeadinnerrusharoundsevenP.M.,lastingacouplehours

intothenight,withthelightsgoingdownaroundmidnight.

Innotime,weweresixweeksintotheseasonandhummingalong.Man,wehit

someuglylittletowns.Clare,Irons(homeoftheannual,Michigan-famous

FleaRoastandOxMarketfestival),Ironwood,IronMountainandtheColeman

Junefestweresomeofthecolorfuldestinations.Ourdowntimeontheroadwas

spentreading,drawing,junkin’inbetweenportsandsweatingthenightsoutin

thefifthwheel.Thingsweren’tsobad,andhell,ifanything,theconstant

travelingwasdirty,kindarecklessandfun.

Thecarnival’sfamilyhierarchyisbrokendownsystematically.Atthetopof

thefoodchainyouhavetheowners.Theyowntheequipment,booktheshows

andcutthechecks.Themainguyhadthisperpetuallookofdisgustand

exhaustiononhisfaceandhiswifehadbigblondhairandlotsofgold

danglingoffherbuxomchest.Ohyeah,andacoupleofspoiled,shit-asslittle

kidsrunningaroundgettingintoeverything.Movingrightalong,thenextstep

downisthefoodcourt.Thecourtvendorsrentspacefromtheowners.Ifthey

arelucky,they’llbuildalittleempireofelephantearsandcorndogsandhave

awholerowofwagonssetupatanygivenevent.RayandRosewere

responsiblepeople,withanicehouseinsomelittletownsomewhere,acouple

bigtrucksandlotsofdeterminationtosucceed.ForallIknew,theytookthe

wintersoff,duetotherichesfromtheirsummer.ChadandI—somewhat

reluctantly—wereapartofthefoodcourtcaste.

Butourhearts,well,theywerepumpingcarnyblood.

Thecarnies.Ohman,whatawildlot.Rougharoundtheedges,oddly

enigmatic,stereotypicallyundereducated,dirty,colorful,loyal,sunburnt,

simple,repressedand“kindalost”aredescriptionsthatcometomind.It’sbeen

overtwentyyearssincethatfatefulsummer,sothenamesarefuzzy,butthe

facesandtheirheartypersonalitiesareingrainedinmeforever.

TherewasthisolderladynamedAlice,who’dlielikearug.Onedayshe’d

claimtohavesixkids,thenextday,seven.Herhusband,“Bob,”wasthishefty

bruisersometwentyyearsherjuniorwithnofrontteeth,deep-seteyes,a

danglingsmokeandabigsmiletosharewitheveryone.He’djustnodalong

withherlies.

Therewasaguywithgreen,rottingteethwho’dgetabig“Dew”fromuseach

morning.AftersometimeheandIgottoknoweachother.He’daskmeabout

livingoutwest.I’daskhimaboutlivinginSaginaw.OnetimeIaskedhimifhe

everplannedtofixhisteeth.Withatoothygrinandapoeticdeliveryhesaid,

“Hurtstoomuchtobrush’em,soI’mjustwaitin’for’emtofallout!Ta-ha-

haaaaa!”Andthatwasthat.

Carnylifeisatoughgo.Firstofall,theydon’tgetpaidshitandareexpectedto

worklong,longhours.Settheshitup,runitallday,tearitdownandtravelto

thenextgig.Andthat’stheirsummer.Eachnightafterthiscrewshutthefair

down,theywerealloweda“draw”ontheirearnings.Now,ifIremember

correctly,thecashwasdispersedinanenvelope,carefullyrecordedanddoled

outtotheeagerworkers.Theirmoneyoftenwenttosmokes,trashyfoodand

beer.And,man,thewholedrawthingwasonemorewayfortheownersto

keepthecarniesundertheirthumbandeatingoutoftheirhands.Becausewhen

paydaywouldhit,well,theywouldbetaxedforthewholeamountandwould

havetinypaychecks.Plus,theyhadtorenttheirsleepingquarters.Thedeck

wasstackedagainstthemineveryway.Thework,thehours,thesafetyissues,

thefoodoptionsoffered

nothingwasintheirfavor.

SoItookmattersintomyownhands.Afterseeinghowmuchthewagonmade,

andhowfastitmadeit,Istartedto“giveback”tothepeoplewhoIfeltwere

takenadvantageof.Thecarnieshadtopayforthefood,which,considering

howtheyweretreatedoverall,wascompletebullshit.So,sayaguywould

comeuptogethisdailyfifty-ouncerofMountainDew.Itwasthreebucks.He’d

givemeafive-dollarbill,I’dgivehimthewinkandthengivehimseven

dollarsinchange.Andsoon.Itookituponmyselftogivetheseguysabreak,

andintheprocess,wonthemover.

NowifanyonemessedwithChadorme,thecarnieswouldcometoourrescue.

IremembersomedrunkfratfucksmessingwithussomewhereinMichigan’s

UpperPeninsulaandhavingoneofthecarniescomeovertopolicethe

wagon’scanopyarea.Backup.Brothers.Andit’snotlikeRayandRoselost

verymuchfrommybenevolencethatsummer.Maybeacouplehundredbucks,

whichI’dgladlypayback.Itputsmilesonthecarnies’faces,andmaybe,just

maybe,made’emfeellikesomeonegaveashitabouttheirplight.

Thehighlightoftheweekendwas“goingAWOL”longenoughtohitathrift

storeoralocalrestaurant.That,andwhenfriendswouldvisit.Icanonly

wonderhowwelookedinsidethatcockpit.

Now,thingswererollingalongjustfine,andsometenweeksintoit,a

meltdownchangedeverything.

ItwasalatenightinNorway,onthewestendoftheUpperPeninsula.Wewere

busyrightupuntilclosing,and,beinghungryafteralongday,weshuttherig

downandleftwithoutcleaningup,inordertogetintotownbeforeallthe

restaurantsclosed.Sowegoandeat,hittingaSubwayorsomething.(I

rememberthatfelt“premium”afterspendingawholesummeraroundcorn

dogsandshit.)Whenwerolledbackintothesite—todoournightlycleanup

andthenhitthesack—wenoticedthewagon’sbackdoorwasopenandthelight

wason,withsomemovementinside.

WewalkeduptofindRosefeverishlycleaningup.“Rose,we’llgetthat,”Isaid.

“Wejustwantedtogointotowntograbsomethingbeforeeverythingclosed.”

Shedidn’treply,visiblymiffed,scrubbingaway.

Andthat’swhenRayshowedupandwentnuts.Accusingusof“makingRose

cleanupafterus”—whichwasbullshit;wealwayscleanedtheplaceup,likewe

weresupposedto—andof“notcaringanymore.”Hewasgettingcloseonthe

latter,asourpaycheckstayedthesamewiththedaysonthejobbeingmoreand

moreeachweekend.Forinstance,henevertoldusaboutthefairsthatwere

ThursdaytoSunday,whichmeantdrivingoutonWednesdaynightandbackon

Mondaymorning,inturnbecomingsixdaysalltogether.Butwestillmadeit

andhonoredourpact.

Irememberhimspecificallybringingupanincidentaboutthepantyhose.At

theendofthenight,wewere“trained”toputapantyhoseonthereleasedrain,

andthenreleasethewastewaterintothegrassordirt,catchingallthecrudin

thepantyhose,andthenremoveitandcapthedrainbackup.Thiswasagainst

thelaw,asweweresupposedtodrainthewastewaterintoastate-sanctioned

receptacle.Sothisonenight,weforgottoremovethepantyhose.Wecrashed

out,andaswewerewalkinguptothewagonthenextmorning,wewere

greetedbyanofficialfromtheMichiganStateHealthDepartment.Well,Ray

gotabigfineforthatone,andwasprettybummedatus.Thanksforthegood

training,boss.

Thenhestartedtotalkabouthow“heoughtafireus,”whenIinterruptedhim

Thenhestartedtotalkabouthow“heoughtafireus,”whenIinterruptedhim

andsaid,“Nah,youwon’thavetodothat.Iquit.”Orsomethingtothateffect.

And,man,itstoppedhiminhistracks.Hewentdoublenutsatthatpoint.Ithink

Isaidsomethingabouthowpathetichis“career”wasasafuckingcorndog

huckster.IjustrememberChadcautioningmeasIunloadedasummer’sworth

ofdisgustontheguy.AndIletitallout.

WeworkedhardforhimandRoseandneverlostasaleorturnedpeopleaway.

Wemadethematonoflootandwerealwaysontime.Andthisonetimewe

brokeprotocolinthenameofgettingsomewhatofasquaremealandheloses

itandfreaksoutonus.

SoIquitonthespot,and,man,itfeltgood.Ihadsavedallmysummerloot,so

mywesternnesteggwassecure.ThentheyaskedChadwhathewasgonnado.I

rememberhimsaying,“Nah,I’mouttahere.I’mnotgonnalistentoyoutalk

shitaboutAaronfortherestofthesummer.”Mybrotherhadmyback.I

rememberbeingoutsidetheowners’fifthwheelandhearingthatlittlesnake-

tonguedwifesaysomethingalongthelinesof“Iwouldn’tgivethemathing.

Get’emoutofhere,then”asRaysoughtguidanceonhowtohandleour

leaving.Andthatwasit.Wewerefree.

ItwastwoA.M.,inthemiddleoftheU.P.,andweweredone.Raypaidusforthe

weekendandgaveusahundredbucksforGreyhoundticketsbacktoTraverse

City.ThenherecruitedthisguywithspottyhearingandoneeyewithCoke-

bottleglassestodriveusoffthepremisesandtothenextlittletown,where

we’dwaitthenightoutuntilthenextbuscamethrough.

Oncewewereontheroad,weboughttheguysomesmokesorabigDewor

somethingandhedroveusallthewaytoEscanaba,downontheLake

Michigancoast.Hedroppedusoffatatwenty-four-hourLaundromat,where

wecaughtuponlaundryandwatchedthesunrise.

Luckily,MomandDadcametoourrescuethenextmorning,anddroveus

backdowntoTraverseCity.

Twoweekslater,afteranamazingRydertruckroadtripbacktoBend,wewere

settlingintooursecondwinterinOregon.

FourSummersupinAlaska

AgroupofmybuddiesandIwenttoapartyrightwheretheOldMission

Peninsulastarted,anditwasabitofanoldercrowd.Igottobullshittingwith

thistall,wild-eyedadventurer-lookingguywithlongcurlyblondhairand

breaththatsmelledlikestalebeer.Thiswasayearbeforewe’dultimatelysplit,

andItoldhimofourtentativeplans.Irememberhimtellingmethis:“You

needtogotoAlaska.Thelandiswild,thewomenarewildandyoucanmakea

fortune.”TheconvictioninhisvoicewassomethingI’llneverforget.Itook

hisadviceandneverforgotthosewords.Fast-forwardfivewinters,andit’s

weirdhowpropheticthatguywas.

IwaslivinginBend,andmyfriendJackieBoiseneautoldmeaboutagroupof peoplecomingdownfromAnchoragetointerviewforsummerpositionsona sightseeingtrainthatwentfromAnchoragetoFairbanksandback,serving foodtogolden-oldietravelers.Sheputmynamein,IpedaledouttotheShilo

InnonHighway97,northofBendabit,andhadmyinterview.Itwentwell

enough,andwediscussedadishwashingjobthatwasupforgrabs.

Amonthlater,Igotthebigcall.AsmuchasIwantedtodoanothersummerat HighCascadeSnowboardCampinGovernmentCamp,youjustcouldn’tmake

anylootupthere.Iendedthesummerof1995withjustacouplehundred

bucks.Thatwasn’tgonnacutit.IheardthetalesfromJackieofbeingableto

makealoadupthere,andIhadtogiveitago.

UptoAlaska

Here’swhyIwent:ItwastheonlywayI’dbeabletogetacomputer.Ihad

workedattheNickelAdsandhadaccesstomachines,butthatjobwaslong

gone.Sneakingintothecommunitycollegewasn’tgonnacutit,either.SoI

wentuptherewithonefocus:tomakeenoughloottobuymyveryown

machine.AndIdidjustthat.

Evenwithallthatmidnightsun,thoseweresomedarkdaysupinAlaska.And

thattrainateyoualive.Thethingtookoffsuperearlyandtherewerestrict

policiesforwhattimethingsgotgoing.Alltheworkerswatchedoverone

anothertogettothetrainontime.

Theshiftsweren’tallthatbad.Itcertainlywasn’trocketscience.Dishescome

in.Dishesgetwashed.Dishesgetputaway.Repeatonethousandtimesoverthe

courseofasummer.Buttherewasanarttoit.Iquicklydevisedasystemto

efficientlysortandwashthestuffasitcamein.It’seasiertodoawholerackof

plates.Like-mindedshapes,youknow?WhereasmycolleagueTylerFanning

applieda“goapeshitandwashwhatevercomesinasitcomesin”policy,Iwas

scientificinmyapproach,quicklygettingthenumb-nutserverstoadhere.It

madesenseforthem,too.Andwhenserverswouldjustshuckstuffintothepit?

Ihadwaysofgettingmyrevenge.

Thedishwashersareattheverybottomofthekitchenfoodchainandalways

gettheshittyendofthesprayernozzle.Iwasthelastonetoleavethekitchen.

I’dcleanmypitandshutitalldownwhensomefuckheadserverwouldthrow

onelastcoffeecupin,screwingthewholethingup.Sohere’swhatIwoulddo:

I’dpouralittlesplashofmilkineachoftheservers’reach-incoolers,which

meant,duringfinalinspections,they’dhavetopulleverythingoutagain,clean

themilkupandputitallbackin.Anyofyouguysrememberthat?Isuredo.

It’sthecookswhostayedwithmeuntiltheendeachnight,helpinguntilthelast dishwasdone.I’llforeverlovethoseguys.Ateamefforttotheend.That

meanttheworldtome.WhenTylerandIbecamecooksin1998,wedidthe

sameforourdishwasherseachnight.

IneedtothankManagerTomforallowingmetowearmyWalkmanwhen

washing.Sure,itwasagainstPrincessTourspolicy,butoncewelefttheyard,

wewereonourown.Somemanagerswouldscoffatthis,butManagerTom

leveledwithme.“Wearthem,man.Nosweat.Justgetthejobdoneandwe’re

good,”hetoldmeasheputinanotherchew.Hehadhisvices.Ihadmine.

Thosemixtapessavedmyasseveryshift.Thanksforbeingcool,man.

Thesummerswerebeautifulupthere.Thetemperaturesneverreallybroke seventy-fivedegrees,whichwasgreatweatherforridingbikesand skateboardsaroundtown.I’dhitMammothRecords,thebookstoredowntown,

andgocatchamovieatthetheaterwhereNorthernLightshitRoute1.I’drent

timeonmachinesatKinko’stodesignstuff,storingworkonZipdisks.Thisis

howIsurvivedmysummersupthere.

IalwayshadthissinkingfeelingthatIwaswhilingawaymyyouthinpursuitof

Alaskangreenbacks.Imean,Iwas,butthiswastheonlywayI’dbeabletogeta

machinethatfirstsummer.Bymysecondsummer,Istartedluggingthe

machinebackuptherewithmesoIcouldwork.IwouldmakeT-shirtsforthe

trainworkersasawaytosupplementmysummersavings.Iremembermaking

fourtripsonmybiketothatscreenprintertogetalltheshirtsbacktothe

house.

Andfortherecord,FredGreen,Ihatedthejobuptheremorethanyou.Now

it’sinprint,bud.Twoleftshoes.

BackDowntotheLower48

IgotbackdowntoBendwithmy$9,700.Anddroppedthewholewadonmy

veryfirstdesignrig:aPowerComputingPowerTowerPro180MHz

computer,aPowerComputingmonitor,acolorscanner,aHewlett-Packard

laserprinterandtheAdobeIllustratorstudentedition.Everythingelsewas

pirated.

IrememberputtingintheorderforthecomputerwithalocalresellerinBend.

Ihadalreadyorderedthemonitor,scannerandprinter.Hecalledandtoldme

thathewasonhiswaytodeliverthecomputer.Ihadworkedfivemonths

washingdishesforthismomentandwassoexcitedforthedelivery.Theguy

pullsupinsomeshittyfour-doorDodgeSadness.Iwaswatchingthroughthe

blinds.Heparked,jumpedoutandopenedthecar’sbackdoortograbthe

computer.Therewasmymachine,justsortoflyingontheseatbackthere.I

wasfuckin’horrified.

Iremembersettingitallupthatnight,soproud,soexcitedandsoready.That’s

whenmynewlifeindesignstarted.NowIhadallthetoolsatmydisposal.

Innotime,Ihadmorethanenoughworktokeepmegoing.Onejobfrom

LanceVioletteatScottSnowboardswasenoughtofloatmeallwinterlong.He

gavememyfirstshot,andatasteofwhatwasoutthere.Ididproducticonsfor

anupcomingScottcatalog.

Iendedupdoingfoursummersupthere.Surprisingly.Afterthatfirstsummer, IsworeI’dnevergoback.Butofcourse,onegravelly-voiced,sagelikecook namedChrisRosemondhadthesewordsforme:“Alaskaisinyounow.You canleaveit,butit’llneverleaveyou.”Somethingpoeticlikethat,andI rememberrollingmyeyes,countingdownthehoursuntilI’dgettohopthat

flightbacktotheLower48.Butonsomelevel,hewasright.

IstillgetalittlefidgetyinlateAprileachyear,thinkingaboutheadingbackup

tothetrain.Whatabeautiful,pristineplaceAlaskais.

Leaner,meanerandcountingdownthedaystogohome.1996.

Leaner,meanerandcountingdownthedaystogohome.1996.

Dishpitsketch… …andtheninked.1996.

Dishpitsketch…

Dishpitsketch… …andtheninked.1996.

…andtheninked.1996.

Buttertraypostcardillustration.1996.

Buttertraypostcardillustration.1996.

FoundthisrockinAnchorage’smudflats,andtuneditup.1996.

FoundthisrockinAnchorage’smudflats,andtuneditup.1996.

Strawberryjampackagingpostcardillustration.1996.

Strawberryjampackagingpostcardillustration.1996.

Workedanentiresummerforthismachine.

Workedanentiresummerforthismachine.

SummerOnTheRail kitchenzine.1997.

SummerOnTheRailkitchenzine.1997.

“FruitsoftheForest”piepackagingpostcardillustration.RareDinosaurJr-inspireduseofthe colorpurple.1996.

“FruitsoftheForest”piepackagingpostcardillustration.RareDinosaurJr-inspireduseofthe

colorpurple.1996.

DigitalExplosion

DigitalExplosion TheonlyremainingsheetofstickersMarkRudinprintedforme.I’dhand-cuteachoneoutusing

TheonlyremainingsheetofstickersMarkRudinprintedforme.I’dhand-cuteachoneoutusing

anX-Actoknifeandrulerstocutdownoncosts.1996.

Outputfromthatfirstcouplewintersafterwegotourfirstcomputer.1996-1998.

Outputfromthatfirstcouplewintersafterwegotourfirstcomputer.1996-1998.

MinneapolisCollegeofArt&Design

Inthefallof1997,IheadedbackhometoexploretheMidwestandhita

numberofartschools.IcheckedoutKendallinGrandRapids,theUniversity

ofMichiganinAnnArbor,MIADinMilwaukeeandMCADinMinneapolis.I

gotamixedbagofadvicefromtheassortedadmissionspeople.Thewomanat

theUofMtoldme,point-blank,“Weoffermoreofacerebralapproachto

graphicdesign.”Thatwasafunone.TheguyfromKendalllookedovermy

stuffandshookhishead.“Man,”hesaid,“yougottagoupthefoodchaina

bit.”HepointedmetoMIAD.Thewomanwhogavemetheflusteredtourthere

wasmeananduninterestedinmymyriadquestions.Thatsealedthedealonthat

one.WhenIgotallthewayuptoMCAD,theywerereallywelcoming.The

workthekidsweredoinglookedcomplex,wildandabitforeboding.The

catalogalonewasanightmareofcodedforms,adheringtothelatestpost-post-

post-moderngraphicdesigntricks.Butthatfeltexcitingandprovocative.

MCADwasmychoice,andIstartedtheadmissionsprocess.

Thatfollowingspringof1998,withallmyworksubmittedforadmissionand

scholarships,IgotthefirstletterdetailingmyacceptancetoMCAD!I

rememberhowscaryitallwas,notknowingifIwouldmakethecut.Yousee,

thestuffIshowed,thatwasfrommytimeinBend;self-taught,moreorless.

Recklesswithbigspirit,butstillnoideaofwhereIstoodinthecontemporary

ranksofartschool.

MylastsnowboardtripwastoTelluride,Colorado.ChadSmithandIcaughta freeridewithfriendsfromBend,allofwhomwerecompetingatasnowboard contestthere.Iwasuponthehillandremembersomescreamingnightmare mom,withafurcoatandeverything,yellingatherkidtogettosnowboard practice.That’sthemomentIknewIwasdonewithsnowboarding.Iwasso disgusted,Ididn’tevenstrapinforthefinalridedownthehill.Thatwasn’tthe snowboardingIknewandloved.Iskateddowntothebottom,walkedupinto Telluride’sdowntown,andcheckedmye-mailatsomeoverpricedInternet café.Thatsession,Igotthee-mailtellingmeIwasawardedtheWandaGag

scholarship,alongwithsomeWisconsinkidnamedMikeGaughan.$36,000

forfouryears!Inmycase,itwouldbe$9,000ayearforthetwoyearsIwould

beattending.Thatmadeitpossibleforme.IremembertellingthecrewIgot

accepted

Officially.JusthadtogetthroughasummerupinAlaska,andthenI’dhead

downtoMinneapolistostartschoolinthefall.Schoolwasagreatexperience

formeonsomanylevels.First,itallowedmetoshedtheshrinking,

claustrophobicsnowboardworld.Bothitssomewhatincestuousand

predictableartworkanditslimitedlanguageandtrajectories.Thatworldis

prettybigwhenyouarenineteen,butIstartedlookingforthenextthing

outsideofit.I’dgouptoPortlandandhitPowell’sBookstoflipthroughHow

magazineandCommunicationArts.Couldn’tevenaffordthethings,butthey

gavemeatasteofwhatwasgoingonoutsideofourlittlemountaintown.

soproud,freakedoutandexcited.Iwasgoingtoartschool!

Second,schoolopenedmyeyestothecontemporarydesignworld.Theissues,

trendsandpossibilities.IrememberbeingblownawaybytheWalkerArt

CenterinMinneapolis.Andhell,Ididn’tunderstandbutathirdofthestuff.I

wasmoreinterestedintheirmaterialsandcatalogdesignsthanthestuffonthe

walls.Aschallengingastheworkwas,theelitequalityofthedesignwas

aspirational.

Third,schoolhelpedmetorealizeanddevelopwhatIhadalreadycultivated

insideofme.Andtheopportunitytoactonit.MylittlelifeinBendwasgreat

andall,butIquicklyknewtherewasaceilingtowhatIcouldpulloffthere.

MovingtoMinneapolisremovedallthebarriers.

ThemainthingIlearnedatMCADwashowtoattackaproject.Thinking,

analysis,takingnotes,makingsketches,executionsandthenrefinement.From

myfirstgraphicdesignclassuptothosefinalcoupleprojects,processwas

somethingthatgotdrilledintoyou.Ineededit.

MyfavoriteteacherwasaguynamedJerryAllan.Ihadhimforoneclass,

Foundation:3D.Arequiredclass,kidsweresleepingandphoningitin.His

infectiouspositivityreallymademelookattheprocessofmakingthingsina

newway.Inacoupleprojects,Jerrytaughtusnotonlyhowtolookatasingle

sheetofpaperinanewlight,butmostimportant,howtodesignourlives.With

goodthinking,anythingwaspossible!And,man,thatguyhadthecoolest

boots!

I’llforeverbeindebtedtoKaliNikitasandhercommandingknowledgeof

type.Firstshetaughtusthepowerandprivilegeofthecomputerasatool—by

cuttingouteachletterandwordfromlaserprintsandreassemblingtheminto

sentences.Orhowtore-createaligaturewithfrenchcurves,rulersandink.

Classicproductiontechniques;frustratingashell,buteversocrucial.Itquickly

taughtyouhowtosavoreachlittleletterform,andjusthowimportanteach

piecewas.KalitaughtmeahitlistoftypographictipsthatIuseeachdayinmy

work.ThiswaspreciselywhyIwentbacktoschool.

ThecoolestpartaboutmytimeinMinneapoliswasmyinternshipwithCharles S.AndersonDesign.MyMCADbuddyP.J.Chmielworkedthereandvouched forme.ToddPiper-Hauswirthlookedovermyworkandgavemethegigfor

$2.20anhour!IscannedinthousandsofEasternBlocmatchboxlabels.I’dget

abig“batchscan”goingandthengoexplorethearchives,peekintoTodd’s

andChuck’scubiclesorheaddownafloortobugAaronDimmelinthephoto

studio.I’dgohomeeachFridaywithabigheadache,exhaustedbyhowmuch

coolstuffIwasseeing.NevercrackedopenIllustratoronceatCSA!

I’vegottenintoalittlehotwaterwithinterviewsandspeakingfiascostalking

aboutcollege.EventhoughIwasself-taughtforthemostpart,Iknewschool

wouldbegreatforme.IthoughtIhadtodoit,toattainaccreditation.Sohow

doIfeelaboutschoolversusself-teaching?Igetthatquestionallthetime,and

trytoansweritconsistentlylikethis:Gotoschoolifyoucan!Learnasmuch

asyoucan!Investinyourselfandholdthemtoit.

Butontheotherhand,theideaofsomekidcomingoutofschoolwith$80,000

indebtandtheirheartnotcompletelyintoit?Highwayrobbery.Iremember

meetingthiskidfromapriceyartschool.Heapproachedanddeadpannedme

withonequestion:“HowamIgoingtopayoffmyschoolloanfromthis

place?”Hewasindeep.AndIwentintothislong,convolutedanswerabout

howtoattackit,howtorearrangeprioritiestogetagoodjumponpayingthe

thingdownwithdesign.Andhelookedsurprisedandsaid,“Design?Ihavea

degreeinfiberarts.”Anditjustsortofbrokemyheart.Designisa

commercialthing,andthere’swaystomakelootandpayofftheloans.Ididit.

Buttogetoutfromunderneatheverythingwithfinearts?Ididn’tknowwhatto

tellhim.Istillfeelbadforthatkid.Hewassocynicalandlost.

Mytwoyearsgettingmybachelorsofscienceingraphicdesigntooquick.I

learnedsomanytactilethingsatMCAD:welding,buildingthingsoutofwood,

controllingmetal,sandblasting,screenprinting,publicationdesignwithJan

Jancourt,bookbindingwithJodyWilliamsandthepowerofthegraphicnovel

withFrenchyLunning.Andmostimportant,IlearnedIhadwhatittookto

makealifewithdesign.IstillmissmyfruitfultimeinMinneapolisandkinda

wishIneverleft.

Processsketchesfor“GrizzlyHabitat”pictographproject.1998.

Processsketchesfor“GrizzlyHabitat”pictographproject.1998.

“D’Stries”T-shirt.1998.

“D’Stries”T-shirt.1998.

Hierarchystudies.TypographyIclass.1998.

Hierarchystudies.TypographyIclass.1998.

“AmtrakCard”fromTypographyIIclass.1999.

“AmtrakCard”fromTypographyIIclass.1999.

“MercuryRev”CDpackagedesignforBillThorburn.1999.

“MercuryRev”CDpackagedesignforBillThorburn.1999.

“OpenRoad”roadtrippublicationforAndrewBlauvelt.1999.

“OpenRoad”roadtrippublicationforAndrewBlauvelt.1999.

Grumpy’sBar&Grillredesign.1999.

Grumpy’sBar&Grillredesign.1999.

3’×4-1/2’processpostersandfinalpiecefor3DFoundationswithJerryAllan.1998.

3’×4-1/2’processpostersandfinalpiecefor3DFoundationswithJerryAllan.1998.

MinneapolisCollegeofArt&Design

MinneapolisCollegeofArt&Design WashingtonStreetBridge.1999.

WashingtonStreetBridge.1999.

Slideguitarplayer’shands.1999.

Slideguitarplayer’shands.1999.

Selfportrait.1999.

Selfportrait.1999.

ArlieandGabefromJuno.1999.

ArlieandGabefromJuno.1999.

Juno,raging.1999.

Juno,raging.1999.

UncleKevinloadinginhisgear.1999.

UncleKevinloadinginhisgear.1999.

PackagingexplorationsforLaurieDeMartino’s“GraphicDesignPackaging”class.1999.

PackagingexplorationsforLaurieDeMartino’s“GraphicDesignPackaging”class.1999.

Seniorprojectsposters.2000.

Seniorprojectsposters.2000.

“FamousChildStarAlcoholics,”2-colorscreenprint.1999.

“FamousChildStarAlcoholics,”2-colorscreenprint.1999.

“TheRecordShow,”2-colorscreenprint.2000.

“TheRecordShow,”2-colorscreenprint.2000.

“Kurt”school-widepropagandacampaign.2000.

“Kurt”school-widepropagandacampaign.2000.

“ChicoShuda”bookcoverdesign.1999.

“ChicoShuda”bookcoverdesign.1999.

“NashvillePussyatFirstAvenue,”7-colorscreenprint.1999.

“NashvillePussyatFirstAvenue,”7-colorscreenprint.1999.

Goccorelocationpostcard.1998. Goccograduationannouncement.2000.

Goccorelocationpostcard.1998.

Goccorelocationpostcard.1998. Goccograduationannouncement.2000.

Goccograduationannouncement.2000.

Selfportrait,acrylicinksonmasonite.1998.

Selfportrait,acrylicinksonmasonite.1998.

GainfulEmployment

“Firstjobs.Makingalivingwith

design.”

ShitfacedattheWorldQuarterpipeChampionships.Topofthequarterpipe.WatervilleValley, NH.2001.

ShitfacedattheWorldQuarterpipeChampionships.Topofthequarterpipe.WatervilleValley,

NH.2001.

MyFirstJoboutofCollege

Inearly2000,IwasinmywintersemesteratMCADwhenIgetthiscallfrom

MarkSullivan,representingSnowboardermagazine.Iknewhisname.Hewas fromEastInfection,ascrappysnowboardmagazinefromVermont.Ihadmet

thoseguysbrieflyatHighCascadeSnowboardCampinthesummerof1995.

Thefirsttimewasupontheglacier,with“campcop”JasonLilykickingthose

hooligansoutofthehalf-pipe.AndlaterthatafternoondowninGovernment

Camp,wherePatBridgesgavemeacopyoftheirmag.AndIremember

thinking,Thesearethederelictswekickedoutearliertoday?Iwanttohang

withtheseguys!TherewasanartdirectorpositionopeningupatSnowboarder.

Dutiesincludeddoingallthedesignforthemag,aswelltheevents,clothing

andwebsite.Thewholemess.MarkwasEditor,PatwasAssistantEditor.

ItwouldmeanmovingdowntoSouthernCalifornia,andIrememberhow

unsettlingthatwas.IwassoexcitedtostayandworkinMinneapolisafter

MCADwrappedup.IevenhadaninternshiplinedupatBillThorburn’swing

ofCarmichaelLynchrightdowntown.Thingswerelookingupforthe

upcomingsummer.Butofcourse,Iwasintriguedenoughtoputtogethera

portfoliotosenddowntoMarkandtheguys.Ifanything,toseewhatthey’d

say.Snowboarderhadbeenmyfavoritesnowboardmaggrowingup.Thatwas

theonlymagthatshowedguysIrodewithfromtheNorthwest.

ItscompetitorTransworldSnowboardingwastheleadingmagazineinthe

industryandruledtheroost.Ayearprior,IhadgottenacallfrommyoldBend

buddyDaveSypniewski.HewasworkingatTWSnow,andtoldmeabouta

designpositionthatwasopeningup,andhowI’dhavetomovedownto

Oceanside.Ascoolasitsounded,myheartjustwasn’tintothatmag.Ipolitely

optedout.

SomethingwasdifferentabouttheSnowboarderoffer.Yougotthesenseof

whattheywereupagainst,andtheirfriskyunderdogquality.Theywere

shakingthingsup,whichsoundedfunashell.Itookthejob,finishedupthe

schoolyear,finagledanexternshipthroughMCAD,loadedupaRydertruck

andmoveditalldowntoHellhole,SouthernCalifornia.

Myfirstmorningdownthere,IrememberfeelinglikeIhadmadeamistake.It

waseverythingIlovedaboutaplace:congested,hotandexpensive!Great.I

instantlywantedtohightailitbacktoMinneapolis.ButDadhadtaughtmeto

sticktomyguns.ItoldthemI’ddotwocyclesofthemag,andwasdetermined

toslayeachandeveryissue.

Withthenewteamassembled,itwasanopportunitytoresetthemag,shedding

theclichéwritingstyles,photography,anddesign.Ilovedtheall-for-one

clubhousefeel.Weallworkedtowardacommongoal—gettingtheissuedone.

Coverswerealwaystricky.Wehadsomeintensecoverbattles,internallywith

ourteam,andthenwiththetopbrass.That’stheonespotthehigher-upswould

weighinon;alltheanalyticsandcovertrickswouldbesortofforcedonus.I

remembertakingthetimetohearoutourboss,NorbGarrett.Andtheguys

werefreakingoutthatIwasconsortingwiththeenemy!Iknewtherewasaway

tomakebothsidescomfortable.Intheend,weweren’tgonnawinsome

bullshitbattlewhenpossiblesaleswereontheline.Aesthetics?Rightoutthe

windowwhenitcametomovingproduct.Andthatwasokay,Ididmybestto

fulfillbothsides’wishes.Designschooltaughtmehowtolisten,weighthe

options,andthenshowsolutionstosolvetheproblem.Andthat’swhatyou’ll

seebelowinourcoverbattles.

SnowboarderiswhereImetEvanRose.“Brokethemold”doesn’treallywork

withthisanimal.Wild,witheccentrictastes,aneyeforbric-a-brac,andoneof

thefunniestpeopleI’veevermet.He’dcalltome,I’dlookdownfromour

roostintohiscubicle,andhe’dbecompletelynude—“Abouttoputmywetsuit

on”—justwaitingforpeopletowalkin.Funnyashelltowatch.That’swhoI

hungwithdownthere.Pat,EvanandI.Threepilesofshit,completelyoutof

ourelementonthatbeach.

Andtheperks?AsmuchgearasIneeded!CarepackagesfromEddieLeeand

Gravis.PromoCDsfrommusiclabels!Summerswereintense,buttherewould

bealullafterChristmaswhereallthewritersandphotographerswouldhitthe

road,scramblingtoamasscontentforthecomingyear.IgottotraveltoNew

Zealand,BritishColumbia,WolfCreek,MountBohemiaandevenCaboWabo

foraneditorialconference.

Here’swhatI’mmostproudofaboutmytimeatSnowboarder:Theseguys

weremybrothersanditwasuptoustomakeitwork.Andwedid,andour

numbersreflectedit.FromPat’sbrilliantcaptionsandstories,toJeffBaker’s

diplomaticphotobrokering,toMark’seditorialcalls,toMike“Chief”

Nusenow’sclosed-doordeals.Itwasfromourhands.Wewereresponsiblefor

alltheoutput.I’mstillsoproudofouroutputthosetwenty-twomonthsonthat

damnedbeach.

September2000. September2001.

September2000.

September2000. September2001.

September2001.

October2000. October2001.

October2000.

October2000. October2001.

October2001.

November2000. November2001.

November2000.

November2000. November2001.

November2001.

December2000. December2001.

December2000.

December2000. December2001.

December2001.

January2001. January2002.

January2001.

January2001. January2002.

January2002.

February2001. February2002.

February2001.

February2001. February2002.

February2002.

March2001. March2002.

March2001.

March2001. March2002.

March2002.

SnowboarderMagazine

Snowboarder Magazine Assorted Snowboarder magazinespreads.2000-2002.

AssortedSnowboardermagazinespreads.2000-2002.

PromotionalT-shirtdesignfor Snowboarder’s tradeshowgiveaways.2000.

PromotionalT-shirtdesignforSnowboarder’stradeshowgiveaways.2000.

DrivenToRidegiveawayT-shirtforthe2001motorhometour.2001.

DrivenToRidegiveawayT-shirtforthe2001motorhometour.2001.

CincoDesignOffice

ItwasApril2002,chuggingrightalongatSnowboardermagazine.Igetacall

fromJohn“Goo”Phemisterandhe’slookingfornewdesignhiresforhis

Portlandfirm,CincoDesign.ThesearetheguyswhodoNixonandGravis!He

asksifIknowanykidstogoafter,andIreply,“Yeah.Me!”Southern

Californiajustwasn’tgonnacutit.Iwasclosetofinishingmytwocyclesof

themag.Thiswasmyshottogetthehelloutofthere.

Isendsomeworkup,andaweeklaterIflytoPortlandtointerview,seetheir

shopandmeetthecrew.Andofcourse,theirshopiscoolashell.Super

mellow,progressiveanddoingincrediblework.TheylaunchedNixonand

Gravis,twowell-respectedactionsportbrands.ThisiswhereIgotrescued

backtoOregon,sorelievedtoworkinacooldesignshop,makinggoodloot

andlivinginPortland,atownIwascomfortablein.

Cincowasmyfirststudiojob.Completewithaccountmanagers,timesheets,

properpaystructures,modernfurniture,countercultureartandpeopleexcited

tobethere.AndIgotmyfirsttitle.Iwasa“SeniorDesigner”allofthesudden!

IlearnedsomanythingsatCinco.Howtosetupamultipagedocument,

allowingfordetailedPDFpresentations.Howtodesignawatch!Fromthedial

typographytothebodydesigntothestrapmaterials.Howtohandleaclienton

aphonecall.Thatclientscanbefriends—whichmakesmethinkofmybuddy

MattCapozzi.WeworkedcloselytogetheronGravisstuff,thenNixonstuff.

Howtorefine,refineandrefine,downtotheperfectlogo,watchdial,orad

comp.KirkJames’sprocessanddeterminationtodogoodworkallthetimeis

somethingI’llcarrywithmetherestofmylife.Nothingwasphonedinfrom

thatguy.I’llforeverbeimpressedbyhisabilities.

And,man,IlearnedhowtoplayPing-Pong.Sure,BenMunsonruledtheroost, butIdidbeattheguyONEtime.Andthatthrashingisstillechoingaround SoutheastPortland.Ihadnineservesandwouldjustyellout,“Whichoneyou want?Pickonethroughnine!”Noonewasimpressed.Butitalsoscaredme. We’dburnupthewholedayplayingPing-Pong,thenhammerforacouple

hoursandfireoffcompsat4:59P.M.Ialwaysfeltbadaboutthat.Iremembera

clientyellingatusonthephone,andswearingtomyselfthatnoamountofloot

wasworththatshit.Orworkinglong,confusedhoursandthestuffnotseeing

thelightofday.Butthisishoweveryjointis,right?Ihadheardfromtoomany

peoplethatanotherworldexistedoutsideofagencylife.Anditstartedtobug

me,seeingsomanyexamplesoffriendsaroundPortlandmakingalivingon

theirownterms.ThebrandsIwasstartingwithfriendsweretakingoff.Coal

HeadwearwasgoingandSnowboardmagwasonthehorizon.Thosewere

substantialcommitments.

IdidtwofullyearsatCinco.Myfreelanceopportunitieswerestartingto competewithmydayjob.Icouldmakemorelootofftheclockonmyown time.That’swhenittipped.Iputmymonthnoticein,startedshoppingfora

houseandmadeplanstogooutonmyown.Thatwould’vebeenApril2004

whenImadetheleap.

Gravisadvertisingcampaign.ArtdirectionbyKirkJames.DesignbyAaronJamesDraplinand

Gravisadvertisingcampaign.ArtdirectionbyKirkJames.DesignbyAaronJamesDraplinand

ChrisSoli.AccountmanagementbyDeanGross.2002-2003.

Nixonadvertisingcampaign.ArtdirectionbyKirkJames.DesignbyAaronJamesDraplinand

Nixonadvertisingcampaign.ArtdirectionbyKirkJames.DesignbyAaronJamesDraplinand

ChrisSoli.AccountmanagementbyDeanGross.2002-2003.

TheDorkMetal.ArtdirectionbyKirkJames.DesignbyAaronJamesDraplin.2003.

TheDorkMetal.ArtdirectionbyKirkJames.DesignbyAaronJamesDraplin.2003.

TheDork.ArtdirectionbyKirkJames.DesignbyAaronJamesDraplin.2003.

TheDork.ArtdirectionbyKirkJames.DesignbyAaronJamesDraplin.2003.

MyinitialideafortheDorkwassketchedonapukebag,onthewaybackfromEncinitas,all firedupafterabigNixonproductmeeting.

MyinitialideafortheDorkwassketchedonapukebag,onthewaybackfromEncinitas,all

firedupafterabigNixonproductmeeting.

Independence

“Goingoutonmyown.”

Trickingoutthebasementtoourprecisespecs.Pantsoptional.

Trickingoutthebasementtoourprecisespecs.Pantsoptional.

GettingAheadByAnyMeansNecessary

I’vealwaysbeenonetotaketheslow,saferoadwhenitcomestofinances. Frompizzajobsthatcoveredrentoutwest,tothatfirstsummerinAlaska savingforacomputer,andfinally,pinchingallmypennieswhileat Snowboardermagazine,desperatelytryingtopaydowncreditcarddebt

amassedatMCAD.Ijustcouldn’tgetaheadatthemag.Beingcloseto$10,000

intheholeandnotseeinganylightattheendofthetunnel,andhavingtodeal

withallthatsun?NowonderIonlymadeittwenty-twomonthsdownthere.

Thatplacejustateallthemoneyup.Nothingwasleftoverattheendofthe

month.WhenIgotuptoCinco,Imadeenoughloottogetaheadalittlebit.In

aboutayear,IpaidoffthatdamncreditcardI’dbeendraggingalongsincemy

MCADyears.Thiswasmyfirststeptoreallygettingfree.

Itwasscarygoingoutfullyonmyown.Foranumberofreasons.Firstoff,I

wasleavingthesecurityofCincoandtheirsteadystreamofsolidprojects,

insurance,profitsharingandaccountmanagerstotrackourmovements.That

stuffwasnice,butitwasabitclaustrophobic.IplayedalongaswellasIcould

butgotawhiffofbeingabletodothisstuffonmyown,freeofthe

conventionalprofessionalpitfalls.

Ihadtogiveitashot.CouldImakealivingfrommybasement?Allsigns

pointedtoabig,meaty“Yes!”Overhead?Thatwasmyhouse.Business

expenses?EverycentImadewenttoarmingmyselfwiththerightequipment.

Andallofitfromasimple,frugalperspective.

Goingoutonmyown,Istartedtoseestuffstarttochangerightaway.Ihad

moretimetofocus.Icouldworkuntiltheweehoursortakethedayofftorest.

AndItookeverysinglejobthatcamedownthepipe.Everythingaddedup.I

wasjusthopingtohitsomethingclosetowhatCincowasthrowingdown.

AndIdid.ThefirstyearIwasonmyown?Itripledmypreviouswage.Noone

toldmethiscouldorwouldhappen.I’mstillblownawaybythatlittlefigure.I

didabudgetformyself,stucktoitandmadetimeforeachjob.OnceIgotpast

thehurdleofhavingenoughworkonmyown,Istartedtofocusonchipping

awayatthebiggerproblems:loans,loansandloans.

Equipment

Ialwaystriedtobesmartaboutequipment.Investinthebestgearaspossible,

andbefrugalwhereveryoucan.IalwaystriedtobuythebestcomputersI

couldafford,carefultobeabletocovereachtransaction.IputaslittlelootasI

couldoncreditcards.Basically,theruleisthis:Don’tbuysomethingyoucan’t

afford.Assimpleasthat.Ifyouhavetothrowitonacreditcard?Fine.But

damn,paythatthingoffrightaway.

SchoolLoans

Ileftschoolin2000closeto$27,000indebt.AndIfaithfullypaideachmonth

foreightyears.Acoupleyearsintothat,Idoubledmymonthlypaymenttochip

awayatthebalancequicker.Eachmonth,I’dfilloutthecheck,putitinthe

envelope,affixthestampandsenditoff,frettingitsdeliveryandsubsequent

reflectiononmybalance.Irememberfreakingoutatthepossibilitythatmy

envelopewouldgetlostinthemailandit’dbesomekindof“ding”onmy

accountandcredit.Itmadeiteachtime.

Proudofhavingbeenabletomakethepayments,someeightyearsafter leavingMCAD,Icalledtocheckthebalance.Thegirlontheotherendchirped atinny“Oh,it’sattwenty-thousand-something-or-otherdollars.”Thatseemed abithigh.Alltheseyearsmakingthepayments,andthendoublingthepayment

thelastfouryears,andI’donlychippedoffamere$7,000?Itdidn’tseem

right.Theloanofficerexplainedittomewiththeprincipal,interest,andthe

wholedeal.Ableakoutlook.Andyet,thatwholetime,IthoughtIwasgetting

ahead.

Sothatday,Iemptiedmywholebankaccountandpaidthatloanallthewayoff.

Flustered,theloanofficerofferedtoreducetherate,refinanceandwhatever

thehellelse.Soslimy.Whateverittooktokeepyouhelddown.Ipaiditoffthat

afternoonandgotalittletallerwiththatbullshitoffmyback.Now,I

understandveryclearlythatIgotoffprettyeasywithschool.Iwasluckytoget

anincrediblescholarshipandbeabletopaybacktheloansquickly.Butstill,

thattookhardworkandstickingtoatightbudget.

AdventuresinHomeowning

WhenIboughtmylittlehousein2004,Irememberfeelingluckyforthe

privilege.That’soneofthebigthingsinlife,youknow?AndIalwaysbuild

themupintothesemythic,ominouscreatures.Iworkedmyassoffforthe

downpaymentandspentatonoftimefindingtherightplacearoundPortland.

Simpleenough.OnceIfinallylockedin,Irememberbeingsofreakedoutat “thirtyyearsofpayments”andhowmuchthebankwouldmake.Andhow powerlessweallwereinthefaceofoddslikethat.Ipaidthatloaneachmonth faithfully,andyetstillhadmoneyleftover.Sevenyearsintotheloan,Idrained thesavingsandpaidmyhouseoff.Andeachyearsincethen,I’vesavedclose

to$10,000inwhatwouldhavebeengoodol’interest.Screwthat.

Firstitwaspayingoffmyschoolloans.Thenitwasthehouse.MyVolvo?I

paidcashforthatSwedishmeatball.Hell,Ievenpaidoffmyappendix!Idon’t

writethisshittobrag,IwriteitbecauseI’msoproudIdiditbyworkingwith

myfriends,onthingsIlove.

FrugalLiving

MikeWattcalleditdoingthings“econo.”Wattbookedhisowntours,carried

hisowngearuptothestageandsoldshirtsfromagarbagebagattheendof

theshow.Thathadaprofoundeffectonme.Hewasapunkrockhero,

renownedintheranks.Toseehimbeinghumanwitheveryaspectofhiswork

madeithithomethatmuchharder.MikeWattmadeitokaytogooutonmy

own.

Onthefacingpageyou’llseemybelovedCabela’sBargainCavewindbreaker. That’smysecurityblanket.It’sbeenaroundtheworldanumberoftimes.I’ve rolledtheodometeronthatthing!It’sbeenmendedbymylittlesisterLeaha coupletimesnow.Andifmymemoryservesmecorrectly,Ipaidawhopping

$16foritinOwatonna,Minnesota.Backin2008orsomething.

Here’sthething:Idon’tneedfivewindbreakers.Ineedone.AndI’llusethat

thinguntilitdies.There’ssomethingtobesaidaboutbeingfrugal,and,hell,

notreallyknowinganybetter.Americaisweirdwhenitcomestohowwe

consumethings.Closetsfullofunusedbullshit.AndI’dreckonI’masguiltyas

thenextguy.

Irememberreadingsomequipabouthowthewriterwas“themostfreestI’d

everbeenwhenIcouldfitallmycontentsintoonebackpack.”That’sstuckwith

mealltheseyears.Iknow,Iknow,ifyou’veeverbeentotheshopyouare

rollingyoureyes,butshit,paperandephemeraareadifferentthing.The

importantpartisthatItrytobecognizantofhowIspendeachpenny.Andsure,

it’sabitobsessive,butIknowthatit’sthesesmallstepsthathavegottenmeto

whereIamtoday.

Ihaven’thadacentofdebtsincearound2008.Andthattookalotofwork.I

stillbelievethatmakingthejumptofreelanceiswhatrescuedmefromalife

ofpinchingpenniesandjobsthatpayyoupreciselyaslittleastheycan.

Thisfuckin’thingneedstobewashed.Orburned.

Thisfuckin’thingneedstobewashed.Orburned.

CoalHeadwear

Whosaysyoucan’tworkwithyourfriends?Coalwasthefirstlarge-scale

projectthattookoffwhenIfirstwentoutonmyownin2004.Itallstartedthe

yearbefore.

ImetBradScheuffeleinacoupleways.First,hewashoggingupallthegood

windblownbermsforanexclusivephotosessionupaboveRainbowChairat

MountBachelor.MyscrubbuddiesandIweregrumblingsomethingalongthe

linesof“WhothehellisBradShoe-fell?”Andthenacouplemonthslaterwe

seehiminanadforBurtonsnowboards!ThatwasBIG.Whowasthisguy?

SecondtimeImeettheguyisatoneoftheinfamousCincoDesignpartiesin

PortlandandhewasjustwrappingupacoupleyearsworkingonM3

snowboards.Higher-upshadpulledtheplugonthecompany,rightwhenthe

thingwastakingoff.Irememberhowshookuphewas,tohavethething

snubbedjustastheyweregettingtraction.Hewassodedicatedandthat

impressedme.

Bradwaslookingforhisnextthingandwetalkedquicklyaboutaheadwear

companyhewasworkingupwithfriendsinSeattle.OurmutualbuddyJohn

“Goo”PhemisterwasbusygettingHoldenOuterweargoingwithourmutual

friendsScottyZergebelandMikeyLeBlanc.AndIthinktheyrecommendedme

whenGoowasalreadysnatchedup.

AcouplemonthslaterIgotgoingonawordmarkfortheCoalHeadwear company,andoncethatwaslockeddown,wemadeourdebutcatalogfeaturing thefirstsixteenbeanies.BradandIhammeredoutthedetailsfrommyshitty

apartmentinPortland,inthespringof2003.Beforeweknewit,thething

explodedandwewerebusymakingextensiveadvertisingcampaigns,apparel

graphics,trimdetails,catalogs,bannerads,hangtagsandpoint-of-purchase

messaging.Completewithasalesforce,reps,management,teamridersand

supportstaff.Fromabasementtoarealcompanyinacoupleyears.

Fromtheveryget-go,Coalwasachancetoquietthingsdownabit,design-

wise.Inthecompetitiveworldofsnowboardingactionimagery,we’dbe

chartingsomenewterritorybyallowingthephotographytoguidethebrand.

Simple,honestphotosoftheproductandteamoutintheworld.Justpeople

standingthere,withacasualfocusontheheadwear.Byremovingourselves

fromtheactionphotographypissingmatches,wefreedourselvesup.

Eventually,we’duseactionphotography,andwhenwedid,itwasour

perspectiveandnotfromthelatestmovieorclique.

Subtle,subtlemoves.WhenexplainingCoaltopeople,Italkabouthowit

alwaysfeltwarmtome.Anodd“fuzz”toeverything.Bothinthelookandfeel,

andinthevoiceofthebrand.

Welearnedprettyquicklytostayawayfrombigmarketingspeaksortsof

directions.Justkeepitconversational.Bradwouldbestuckonsomethingand

I’daskhimtoexplainittome.He’dcalmdown,tellmewhathewasthinking,

andI’dsay,“Hey,justputthatinthere.”I’dratherhaveitfromhisvoice

directly,insteadoffumblingaroundtryingtopolishitintosomethingwe

aren’t.

I’msoproudoftheCoalphotographydirection.Modelscanbekindaweird.

Withthepursedlipsanddistantlooks.Thepeoplewearingtheheadwearinthe

catalogs?Thosewereourfriends,teamridersandwarehousepunks.That’s

whythestuffalwaysfeltcomfortable.We’dgooutanddoquick,casualshoots

aroundPortland.Andtheproofwasinthepages.Ourphotographerswere

alwaysourfriends,too.AndyWright,EmbryRuckerandMarkWelsh.They’re

fromthesameworld.That’simportant,asthere’snothingmoredamagingthan

elevatingabrandabovethepeoplewho’llbeusingit.We’llleavethatshitfor

thefashionbrands.I’vebeentoldtheclose,friendlyrelationshipweenjoyed

betweenthepeoplewhomaketheCoal,shootit,organizeit,sellitand

ultimatelyshipitisararething.Wouldn’thaveitanyotherway!That’s

somethingIverythankfulfor.

Adecadelater,Coalisinnovativecompanywithhundredsofdesignsoffered

eachseason,soldinstoresallovertheworld,buildinganever-expanding

ambassadorteamwhopromotesthegear.And,myfavoriteofall,it’sbeautiful

proofofwatchingabuddywithagreatsenseofdesign,photographyand

organizationalskillswho’swillingtoworkthelonghoursmakesomething

bigoutofsomethingsmall.

EventhoughBradwantedtoringmyneck3,406times,Iamforeverthankful

forthatinitialtrustinmyabilitiestohelphimgetCoalofftheground.Idida

decadewithCoal.Very,veryproudofthat.Thanks,Brad.Loveyou,bud.And

hell,I’mstillusingthatAeronchair.Youliterally“savemyass”eachdayin

theshop.

AndsorryaboutthesnoringthatonetimeinAustria.

WhereitallstartedforCoalHeadwear.Spring2003.

WhereitallstartedforCoalHeadwear.Spring2003.

CatalogdesignsfromadecadeontheclockforCoalHeadwear.2003-2013.

CatalogdesignsfromadecadeontheclockforCoalHeadwear.2003-2013.

CoalHeadwearAdvertising

CoalHeadwearAdvertising

CoalLogoVault

CoalwasmyfirstclientwhereIwascompletelyimmersed.Ididitallforthem.

WhenBradneededsomething,he’dcallandI’dgetatit.Well,I’dhem,haw,

lie,cheat,stealandthencryabouthowbusyIwastohim.Somewhereinthere,

I’dmakethelogoforthebadgeorpatchhewasonmycaseabout.Aftera

decade,whatapileofstuff.Stuffcomesandgoes,andwhenyoudigintothe

vaults,youareremindedofallthelittleinstancesImadeBrad’slifeworth

living.

TrimdetailsfromadecadeofCoalHeadweardesign.2003-2013.

TrimdetailsfromadecadeofCoalHeadweardesign.2003-2013.

StartingaSnowboardingMagazine

Theytolduswecouldn’tdoit.That’sthefirstthingIrememberaboutgetting

Snowboardmaggoing.“They”beingthepowersthatbeinthesnowboard

publishingindustry.Theysaidtherewasnoroomforourmag.Man,didwe

provethoseshortsightedturdswrong.

Wait,that’sthesecondthingIremember.Snowboardmagstartedwithacall

frommyoldbuddiesMarkSullivanandJeffBakeratSnowboardermagazine

inSanJuanCapistrano.Irememberbeinginstantlyabitmiffedatgettingthat

call.“Youguysagain?Youalreadyruinedmylifeonce!”Butofcourse,Ihad

tohearthemout,seducedbytheexcitementintheirvoices.

Theyweregoingtomaketheirownsnowboardingmagazine.Withbeautiful

photography,product-centriclayoutsandasimple,cleandesign.AndIwasthe

guywhotheywantedtodothedesignpart.Alltheseyearslater,asmuchasI

messwiththeseguysabout“ruiningmylifeinCalifornia”andallthat,you

havetoknow:Icouldn’tsayyesquickenough.Thespiritofstartingsomething

newwithyourbuddieswaswhatgotme.Itrustedtheseguyswithmylife.Not

onlydidweworkcloselytogetherdownthere,wehungout.Wetraveled

together.OfcourseIwantedin,youanimals!Soweassembledourcrackpot

teamofincorrigiblesinPortlandandmadeourfirstissue.Andfuckifitdidn’t

turnoutINCREDIBLE.Thevoicewasspot-on—confident,feistyandpositive.

We’dallbeenthroughthecynicalcyclesoftheshredworld.Thisfeltnew,and

sodidthedesigningofit.Ibuiltasimplesystemthatcouldhandlewhateverthe

boyslobbedatme.Thecleaner,thebetter.IrememberBakerexplaininghow

we“wouldn’tbemessingwiththephotos”andIlovedhimforit.Keepitclean

andletitbreathe.

Startingfromthegroundupcamewiththeincredibleopportunitytoshedall

thetricks,clichésandstylesgoingoninthesnowboardingmagazineworld.I

lookedbackatthesimplestofgrids,whichallowedthephotostobefreeand

unfetteredandthewordstobelegible,withinasystemthatallowedustopound

outpages.Toassembletheteamwasnoeasyfeat.Markwascomingfrom

Idaho.JeffandGaryHansenwerecomingupfromSanClemente.MikeBasher

wascomingoverfromDenver.Jason“J2”Rasmuswouldsomehowmakeit

overfromSaltLakeCity.LarryNuñez,DaveEnglandandIlivedintown.To getusallinonespot,wehadtofocusandcapitalizeonthetimetogether. Submissionswouldcomeinfromthemountains.NateDeschenesandTawnya ShultzwouldsendinreportsfromMammothLakes,California.We’dhave seventoeightdaystobuildthemag,withfilesreleasedtotheprinterthe twenty-fifthhourofthatfinalnight.Theprocesswasprettydiplomatic.It’s interestingwhenyoustriptheofficedynamicsoutofstuff.Thiswasabout makingsomethingwewereproudof.Thedebateswerealwaysaboutmaking gooddecisions,orpickingthebestshotforthecover.Coverbattleswouldgo

intotheweehours,withfactionsformingand12AngryMen–esque

deliberations.

Somethreethousandpageslater,wepulledoffsevenyearsofthemagazine,at

leastenoughtogeteveryonepaidback.Forthemostpart.

Whythisisatriumphissimplythis:Wedidit.Weputitallontheline,andthe

firstcoupleissuesgottheconfidenceofthebrandsthatwouldultimatelybethe

successofthemag.Magazinesrelyonadvertising.Onebyone,allthebig

companiesgotonboard.I’llneverforgettheinitialadvertisingbuys,andowe

adebtofgratitudetothosewhobelievedinusfromthebeginning.Thankyou.

Snowboardmagisstillgoingstrong.WesoldittotheFreeskiergroupin

Boulderin2011andthemagjusthititseleventhseason.

MarkSullivan,Jason“J2”RasmusandDaveEngland“helpingalong”myinitiallogoideas.June 2004.

MarkSullivan,Jason“J2”RasmusandDaveEngland“helpingalong”myinitiallogoideas.June

2004.

Wealmostwentwithanalpineboarenthusiastmagazine.

Wealmostwentwithanalpineboarenthusiastmagazine.

Selectingtheimageforthecoverwasalwaysabattle.It’dstartthenightbeforethefileswere

Selectingtheimageforthecoverwasalwaysabattle.It’dstartthenightbeforethefileswere due,withdebatesandargumentsragingintothenight.Somehow,we’dallagreeonthevery

perfectshot.2004-2010.

Spinesandhowtheychangefromseasontoseasonofthemag.2004-2010.

Spinesandhowtheychangefromseasontoseasonofthemag.2004-2010.

SnowboardMagazineSpreads

SnowboardMagazineSpreads

SnowboardMagazineSpreads

SnowboardMagazineSpreads

UnionBindingCo.

BradfromCoalHeadwearsaidsomethingabouthowI’dbegettingacall “fromGeorgeaboutstartingabindingcompany”fromtheothersideofthe

officeatC3Worldwide.Ilikedthesoundofthat.Ididn’tknowanyGeorges.It

turnedoutthatGeorgeKlecknerwasanold-schoolsnowboarderwhowalked thewalkbackintheday.Agreatriderinhisownright,heknewthecultureand howtobuildateamfromhistimeatDrakebindings.Thiswasinthefallof

2004.HegotmeuptospeedaboutcompanyfounderMartinoFumagalliin

Italyandhishistoryofmakingbindings,wentoverthebasicmarketing

initiativeswithmeandwalkedmethroughthelogoexplorationsuptothat

point.Weworkedoutalistofprojectsandgotdowntowork.

TheDesignofUnionx

ThefirstthingImadewasthelogo.Tothisday,that’sstilloneofmyfavorites.

Designedwithinasquare,strongandboldenoughtobemoldedintoplastic,

pressedintoleatherandembroideredatsmallsizes.Ibuiltthelogowiththe

binding’sneedsinmind.ItHADtobesuccessfulontheproductfirst.Allthe

printandWebstuffwouldbecakeafterthat.

WhereasitsolderbrotherCoalHeadwearwaswarmandcasualwithrealistic

lifestylephotography,fromtheget-goweknewthatUnionwouldbea

straightforward,plainspokendesignapproach.Unapologetic.Confident.Bold,

industrialtypography;dramaticproductphotos;enduringcolorwayswith

simplemessagingacrosstheboard.It’sonethingtowriteablurbaboutthe

strengthofabindingchassis.It’sanotherthingtosimplyputtheword

“STRONGER”nexttoit.Efficientandeffective.I’mmostproudofthecatalog

andadvertisingdesigns.Thecatalogwouldbethefirstthingwe’dmake,andif

youhadyourshittogether,thatwouldinformtheadvertisingcampaign,

packagingandsoftgoodsforthefollowingseason.Theproductdesignwas

Martino’sdepartment.He’dbeendesigningsnowboardbindingsforfifteen

years,andyet,atthebeginningofUnion,hecompletelytrustedourfeedback

anddesigncontributions.Martinodesignedthebasicchassisbasedonstrength,

durabilityandminimalstyling.Then,asateam,we’dfightitoutandpickthe

colors,designingallthefinishingdetailsintoanotheryearlycollection.

ExoticTravel ThatfirsttimeGeorgeandIflewtoMilanwasincredible.Myfirsttimeto Europe!Andyouknow,yougetofftheplane,whipuptoColicoandMartino putsyoutowork.Underbrightfluorescentlights.Exotictravel!Exoticlands! Luxuriousaccommodations!Actually,Iwillsay,thehousewestayedinwas prettydamnnice,onamountain,overlookingthebreathtakingLakeComo. I’mstillblownawaybythequalityofthelittlestthingsinEurope.Beitaroof, awindowsillorastairway.Thingsarebuiltbetterandarebuilttolastfor generations.Americabuildsstufftolastfifteenyears.MartinoFumagalli

buildsstufftolast1,500years.ThenexttimeyouareinColico,lookatthe

guy’sroofandyou’llknowwhatthehellI’mtalkingabout.

Yougetofftheplane,getsettledintotheirofficesandthejetlaggrabsaholdof

you.Beforeyouknowit,yourheadisslumpedandyouaredroolingonyour

supper.Georgespokeabout“drinkingthroughthetimedifference,”butIdon’t

rememberhimutilizingthattechniqueallthateffectively.Wewerenotorious

forgettingintroubleforleavingthelightson,duetoItalybuyingtheirpower

fromLibya.Youknow,bigdumbAmericans,wastingthisandthat.Sorry,Italy,

we’reusedtoadifferentutilitieslandscape.

MakingFriendsinItaly

OnoneofmylastvisitstoColicotowork,GeorgeandIhadearlyflightsback

totheStatesoutofMilan.Martinosetuparideforuswithoneofhis

employees.Theguywokeusupearlyandwewereonthewindyroadback

downtoMilan.Irememberitrainingsuperhard,andIalsorememberhowfast

thatfuckerwasdriving.Wewereslidingandgliding,athowevermany

kilometersperhour,andGeorgeandIwerepackedinthebackseat,holdingon

fordearlife,sortofnervouslylaughing.So,Ibroketheiceabitandaskthe

guytoslowitdownanotch.Inbetweenpuffsofcigarettesmoke,herattled

somethingbacktousinItalian,andwhoknowswhatthehelltheguywas

saying.Hedidn’tspeakalickofEnglish.Hewasjollyandnice,butweweren’t

gettingthroughtohim.Sowespedalong,andme,beingevertheinternational

gentleman,startedinonhim.“Wehateyourface!”Helaughedandchirped

somethingbacktousinItalian.Andwelaughedinthebackseat,andsoitwent.

Somehow,wemadeittotheMilanairport,unloadedourshit,andaswewere

sayingourgood-byes,shakinghandsandshit,Isaid,“Youevercometo

Portland,I’llkillyou.AndIhateyourfamily.AndIhateyourface.”And

whateverotherspiritedshitIhadtosaythatmorning.Helaughed,wehuggedit

outandmadeourwayintocheckin.Adaylater,IheardfromMartino:

“Why’dyoutellMatteoyouweregoingtokillhisface?”

Unionisstillprogressing,andhasgrownintotheindustry’sleadingbinding

brand.

Processsketches,workingtowardsthatfinalUnion“U”logointhebottomrightcorner.2004.

Processsketches,workingtowardsthatfinalUnion“U”logointhebottomrightcorner.2004.

UnionBindingCo.advertisementsthatraninsnowboardingmagazines.2004-2011.

UnionBindingCo.advertisementsthatraninsnowboardingmagazines.2004-2011.

UnionBindingCo.CatalogSpreads

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UnionBindingCo.CatalogSpreads 2005 2006

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GrenadeGloves

MylittleexperiencewithGrenadeGlovesstartedwhenImetDannyKassatthe Snowboardermagazineoffices.Therewasalargegroupof“Grenerds”down fromMammothLakes,loitering.AndIrememberPatpointingoutDannyand

saying,“Thatkid,he’sthenextbigthinginsnowboarding.”Thiswasin2002,

justbeforeIheadeduptoPortland.AndPatwasright.Innotime,thiscrewof

ragtagscrubswouldblowupinallthemagazines,videosandcontests.

Danny’solderbrotherMattwasthebrainsbehindthebrand.Aformerpro

snowboarderhimself,heschemedupGrenadeanditsmilitarythemeandknew

therightpeopletogetthosefirstcrucialcoupleofglovesamplesgoing.And

hehadthecharismatosellittoanever-cynicalsnowboardindustryandtheir

retailoutlets.

MyinvolvementstartedwithacoupleT-shirtgraphicsforMatt.He’dthrowme

anidea,I’dbustitoutandthatwouldbethat.Nextthingyouknew,somescrub

wouldbewearingitinsomemagazinespread.Therewasnoredtapeat

Grenade.IfMattdugit,he’dshowittotheteam.Iftheywereonboard,it

wouldbeinjectedintotheline.Andthenitwouldexplode.

I’dhelpTimKarpinskiandSethNeefuswithcatalogsandphotoshootsandtry

tokeepthingsontrackgraphically.Ihadacoupleyearsonthemandwould

watchoverthemess,whilewe’dalltag-teamthething.Pagemarathons!

ThatwasmyfavoritepartaboutGrenade.We’dhaveaquickdiscussion,laugh

upagameplanandthenexecute.Noback-and-forthbullshit.Andthey’dbe

thankfulforthestuff.MattKassisoneofthefirstguystoreallythankmefor

thetimeIdidonajob.Andthiswasatatimewhenpeopleweresortofrolling

theireyesatGrenade.

Likeactionsports,thesnowboardindustryisfickle.Oneyearit’sthis,thenext

yearit’sthat.Styles,namesandtechnologiescomeandgo,andwhenGrenade

hit,youheardthenay-sayingfromthebiggercompanies.Andsure,maybe

theirstuffwasn’tthesamequality,andestablishedbrandslovedtoshit-talk

them.Buthere’sthedeal:KidslovedGrenadeandthestuffhadsoul.Mattcould

sellsandtoacamel,andtheindustrylovedhisenthusiasmandapeshitenergy.

And,thegangownedthecompany.Noboardofdirectorsorbloatedparent

companies.

AtonepointGrenadewasuptosixmilliondollarsinsales.Blewmymind.

Thelinewasgrowing,thestorescarryingthestuffwerelinedupandthings

weretakingoffmoreandmoreeachtimeI’dcheckin.

Intheend,Grenadeimploded.Peopleleft,peoplecameonboardandI’llnever

forgetsittingacrossthetablefromoneofthescariestpeopleI’veeverdealt

with.That’swhenIjumpedout.

I’llbeforeverproudofmyworkwiththosedirtbags.That’smyfavorite

snowboardingbrandIgottoworkon,becauseitembodiedayouthful“don’t

giveafuck”attitude,didn’ttakeitselftooseriouslyandmadecoolshitforwild

kids.That’sthewaythisshitshouldalwaysbe.Itsurewas,forahotcouple

yearswithGrenadeGloves.VivalaGrenade!

Logoiterations,workingtowardsthefinalmarkforGrenadeOptics.2007.

Logoiterations,workingtowardsthefinalmarkforGrenadeOptics.2007.

Processsketch,inkingitandthencoloringitupforhand-off.GrenadeReaperT-shirt.2003.

Processsketch,inkingitandthencoloringitupforhand-off.GrenadeReaperT-shirt.2003.

“GrenadeHandlingBasics”T-shirt.2002.

“GrenadeHandlingBasics”T-shirt.2002.

“UnkleBuck”T-shirt.2005.

“UnkleBuck”T-shirt.2005.

“AnthraxStack”T-shirt.2007.

“AnthraxStack”T-shirt.2007.

“Gren-Adeisit!”T-shirt.2007.

“Gren-Adeisit!”T-shirt.2007.

“FreedomFighter”T-shirt.2006.

“FreedomFighter”T-shirt.2006.

“HandleCarefully”T-shirt,2007.

“HandleCarefully”T-shirt,2007.

“Comin’InHot”T-shirt.2005.

“Comin’InHot”T-shirt.2005.

“GrenadeIcon”T-shirt.2007.

“GrenadeIcon”T-shirt.2007.

“GrenadeGoreMetal”T-shirt.2007.

“GrenadeGoreMetal”T-shirt.2007.

“SlimeGrenade”T-shirt.2007.

“SlimeGrenade”T-shirt.2007.

“GoneFishin’”T-shirt.2005.

“GoneFishin’”T-shirt.2005.

GrenadeGlovesCatalogs/AssortedGrenerdery

2005

2006

GrenadeGlovesCatalogs/AssortedGrenerdery 2005 2006

2006

2007

2006 2007

2007

2008

2007 2008
Hangtags,T-shirts,decalsandafunDVD.2003-2008.

Hangtags,T-shirts,decalsandafunDVD.2003-2008.

DesigningSnowboardGraphics

OneofthegreatestmomentsinmysnowboardingcareerwasthefirsttimeI

sawaboardIdesignedwhipby!Itwasthespringof1994andwewereupat

Mt.BakerwhenakidwhippedbyontheSolid“JeffWastell”promodelIhad

doneearlierthatfall.Iskateduptohimintheliftlinetogetacloserlook—

therewasmyartunderneathhisfeet!Thatwasmyfirsttasteofthemagicof

thisstuff.Seeingyourworkoutintheworld!Andonasnowboard?Thatmuch

better.Istillhaveabuzzfromthatfirstboard.ThankyoutomybuddiesNeil

Rankin,MattHale,JeffWastellandKurtWastell.

Workingonasnowboardprojectwascoolforabunchofreasons:Thesubject

matterwasagreeable,yougotsomefreeboardsanditwasforthe“un-sport”

ofsnowboarding.Thatwasthecoolestpart.Itwasforus,byus.Whoknows

howmanyboardsIgaveawayinthemid-aughts;toallmybuddieswhodidn’t

haveaccesstothesnowboardindustry.Ithinkthat’stheproudestpartofallof

this:beingabletohookupfriendswiththefruitsofmylabor.

Design-wise,Ilovedhowtheartwouldtranslatetothetopsheet,baseand

sidewall.It’sonethingtoseeyourartinamagazine,reproducedtothesizeof

adime.It’sanotherthingtoseeawholelineinasnowboardshop,withkids

checkingeachoneout.Thetypewasbig,andthestuffwasbuilttolasta

handfulofwinters.

CustomSeries.

BurtonSnowboards.2003.

CustomSeries. BurtonSnowboards.2003. Answer156cm. SalomonSnowboards.2010.

Answer156cm.

SalomonSnowboards.2010.

Andwhenthelootwasgood,itwascoolbeyondwords.Ioweadebtof gratitudetoLanceViolette,JeredEberhardt,Mike“Styk”StyskalandMark “Fank”Fankhauser.TheseguysgavemeashotwhenIwasascrub.Inthe

springof2001,LancewaswatchingoveralltheboardsforBurtonin

Burlington,Vermont.Thatsinglejobhelpedmepayoffabigchunkofthe creditcarddebtIhadbuiltupwhileinschoolatMCAD.Andinthesummerof

2004,StykandFankfromRideSnowboardsgavemeacouplebiggigs.Those

twosnowboardseriesfromRidearewhatsecuredthingsformeasIgotouton myowntwowobblyfeet.Securedrentfortwoyears.Foreverthankful,you scrubs.And,withalittlesadness:Ineverreallygottoenjoytheboardsupon thehilllikeIshouldhave.BythetimeIwasconsistentlyworkingonboards andbindings,Iwassortadonewithsnowboarding.Ihadjustmovedontonew things—anewlifeingraphicdesign,mainly.I’mstillalittlechappedIdidn’t gettorideawholewinteronUnionbindings,too.Weworkedsohardonthose

things.Itookonerunonapairinthesummerof2007,soproudtohavethem

onmyboard.

Snowboardingusedtobemywholewinter,andIunderstoodthepowerof savingallyeartogetanewboard.IdidgettoridemySolidthatwinterof

1994,whichwascoolashell.(Youcanseethatboardbackonthispage.)

AlteredGenetics158cm.

GnuSnowboards.2008.

AlteredGenetics158cm. GnuSnowboards.2008.

Flash163cm.

ForumSnowboards.2006.

Flash163cm. ForumSnowboards.2006. OutraVez164.5cm. CompatriotSnowboards.2010.

OutraVez164.5cm.

CompatriotSnowboards.2010.

DesigningSnowboardsGraphics

DecadeSeries.