Last night I attended the keynote presentation of Ad Week presented by The Buffalo News and The Ad Club of Buffalo. Graphic design maestro Aaron Draplin from Portland, Oregon swooped in on the Queen City after leaving New York City earlier in the day. He squeezed in a visit to the Falls this afternoon before heading down to set up shop at the Pearl Street Brewery across the way from the empty First Niagara Center.
Sporting a bright orange construction-zone-like hat and full beard, Draplin truly does look as if he just emerged from a camping trip in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I wasn’t too familiar with his fame since I am not immersed in the design world, but I arrived early as he was sorting out his merchandise table, and lo and behold, the amazing montage of WNY’s greatest logos on a custom poster in the upper right photo was there and I was immediately impressed. This guy was not messing around. He was real friendly and we talked about his whirlwind tour. I told him I lived in Seattle for seven years and spent many nights traveling with the SuperSonics, so I could relate on some level as to waking up in a city and trying to orient to what day it was and what city you were in at the time. I said one of my favorite restaurants in Portland was the Veritable Quandary; it’s a top-shelf restaurant for special occasions for sure, but as a wordsmith I just always loved the wordplay of the name.
I met a few Ad Club members who were designers and art directors. It was also great to meet Carol Horton, the new director of marketing for The Buffalo News. I was definitely a fish out of water, though, and I felt it. It was probably being surrounded by so many creatives and more so because I am still new back in town after many years away. I learned InDesign on a basic level a few years ago and have created some print ads, so I had partial credentials to be in the house.
Draplin regaled the audience of nearly 100 Ad Club members and guests with an hour of tales of growing up in Michigan, heading west to work with Snowboarding magazine before settling in Oregon. He shared a few of his “tallest tales” concerning design work for several VIP clients and the joy those projects brought him. He showed great personality throughout the presentation and often laced his delivery with a colorful spectrum of verbiage that would make sailors glow. His closing “Things I Love” and “Things I Hate” slides were hilarious.
The Pearl Street Brewery is a great venue for special events and private parties, and I had never been up to the third floor before. The last time I was there was for a Sabres pre-game beer two years ago. One drawback was that the p.a. system was not strong enough to reach the far reaches of the room (it was as if he really didn’t have mic support) and it sounded like there was a bowling or furniture-shuffling tournament going on up on the fourth floor, which proved to be a slight distraction to following his adventures at the podium.