Sometimes you go in looking for one thing and you come out with another.
This happens to me all the time when I go shopping, but it happens far more frequently around the holidays. Sometimes I end up with more than I intended, but sometimes I completely change my tack and walk away with something I didn't even know I wanted. Until it was right there in front of me.
A couple months ago I stopped in at Makerhaus for a conversation with Aaron Draplin of Draplin Design Company. He makes brands and those little "FIELD NOTES" memo books. They come in different colors, like "COLD HORIZON." More than anything else about Mr. Draplin, I think his tone is what sets him apart.
I'm not entirely sure what I was looking for in Draplin's talk. Maybe I was hoping to catch some gold dust, get a clear blueprint for success, or just pick up some cool gear. What I got was an attitude adjustment.
In the end my takeaway from meeting the man behind the DDC is how important it is to be straightforward, opinionated, and flexible. Those don't always go together, but they work really well in a Designer's toolkit. Knowing what doesn't work and why is just as important as have good new ideas. Experience can tell you when a client may be headed to the "here be monsters" part of the map.
And it's ok to say so.
But you can't be aloof. People are running real businesses and their success matters to their families. When you can make a difference in that kind of environment, it's easy to see why working with the little guys is so rewarding.
I'm still working it out, and I've had a son since then, but when I got these photos from my grandpa's camera back from being developed, I felt like I understood a little better.