Rockstar designers share the objects that made them

Aaron Draplin

(Image credit: Aaron Draplin)

Based in Portland, Oregon, Aaron James Draplin is a graphic designer, author and founder of Draplin Design Co. (DDC). Specialising in brand identity, logo design and typography, his client list includes Burton Snowboards, Nike, Red Wing, Field Notes, Esquire, Ford Motor Company and the Obama Administration. 

Draplin’s 2006 book, Pretty Much Everything, is a mid-career summary and story/showcase of his work that includes case studies, advice and commentary about his career to date.

(Image credit: Aaron Draplin)

Rock guitar

“I found this rock in the mud flats near Anchorage, at low tide. Would’ve been the summer of 1996, in between dish-washing shifts in the land of the midnight sun. People don’t have anything else better to do than hike, it seems. I find it pretty insufferable. 

"It was my first summer up in Alaska and my roommates were a little too ‘gung ho’ for their own good regarding outdoor activities. I’d ride my bike or skateboard back and forth to get a bite to eat or hit the record store, and found myself on the edge of downtown, checking out the mud flats at low tide. That’s where I found this rock on the shore, and noticed the peculiar shape to it. 

"I just couldn’t leave it behind. How could it exist? How could I find it among the zillion other rocks out there? Some kind of Fender Jazzmaster/Guild Jetstar hybrid? Back at the house in the corner of the living room that I rented I got a little white paint and some ink and then went to town. 

"It was just a weird little instance that nature can throw some pretty incredible curve balls. It’s a reminder of the power of the universe, and happenstance, and randomness and one-in-million moments. Beauty can be found in so many things that we tend to overlook. And I didn’t want to lose what I saw in that awesome moment in those sketchy mud flats.”

Merijn Hos

(Image credit: Merijn Hos)

Merijn Hos is a visual artist and illustrator from Utrecht, The Netherlands, known for his curious, characters and quirky illustrative work. He divides his time between working as a commercial illustrator for clients such as Bose, Red Bull, Google, The Guardian and Keds, and working on personal projects, exhibitions and independent publishing.

(Image credit: Merijn Hos)


“When I was a kid I was obsessed with American culture. I loved those 80s movies in which kids would ride around on their BMX bikes wearing a baseball cap and varsity jacket carrying a baseball bat with them,” says Hos. “Around the age of 10 I went to see a baseball practice game with my friends and I found this baseball in the bushes. It’s been on a cabinet in every house that I lived in ever since, as a relic of my youth. When I look at it I’m transported back to a time when I didn’t have a care in the world.”

(Image credit: Merijn Hos)

Quick postcard

“My grandmother sent me this postcard in the early 90s after I visited the exhibition that featured all the American graffiti legends in the Groninger museum. This was when I became interested in graffiti and drawing, and possibly a key point in my life. I started writing graffiti – and graffiti taught me everything about lines, shapes, colour, friendship and dedication. Together with skateboarding it brought adventure into my life and helped me meet all the wonderful people I still hang out with to this day. It shaped my career more than art school ever did.”

(Image credit: Merijn Hos)

Ralph Lauren baseball cap

“This is a Polo Ralph Lauren cap that I bought in the mid 90s when I was skateboarding. Within skateboarding culture there was a small group that was more into hip-hop music while the majority of the kids were into punk. I was listening to hip-hop and we were influenced by the fashion of groups like the Wu Tang Clan. They would wear Helly Hanson Jackets and Polo Sport gear and that’s what I did, too. Or at least I tried! Looking back at it we looked like kids in baggy golf clothes rolling around the city with a backpack filled with beers. A special time. I spent my last bit of spare cash on this hat, and still wear it a lot.”

Next page: Sidonie Warren

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Founder & director of Inkygoodness, Lisa is a published writer and arts journalist, focusing on creative business, graphic art and illustration and design education. Her words have appeared in Computer Arts magazine, Creative Bloq, Digital Arts and IdN.