Monday, January 28, 2013

Recap: Tall Tales from A Large Man

On Wednesday, January 16, 2012, I attended AIGA DC's event "Tall Tales from A Large Man" with speaker Aaron James Draplin of the Draplin Design Co. I knew going into the event that he would be a dynamic speaker based on all the online hype from AIGA DC and the fact that the event sold out and then they switched venues to open additional seating. People wanted to see this dude talk! He's not your typical designer with thick black glasses and a crisp shirt. He's a big man with a beard who looks like he stepped out of the wilderness. He discussed his upbringing and early design career: hopping around from Detroit, Alaska, Minnesota, and Portland. He started working for other people, then he discovered, "I could make more money after 6PM when I got home than I could going to meetings about meetings." Eventually, he saved his money and went full-time working for himself.

Draplin commented on the current state of design, "Graphic design used to be a trade. Direct marketing garbage. That's our life now. Flickering and flashing online ads. Now we are making garbage all day long." He didn't tell me things I didn't know, it was just the way he delivered the message that was different than most people would have. There was no restraint when he wanted to talk bad about something or someone and we all learned that he hates Republicans. We were reminded this many times throughout the presentation. 

To get a taste of his style, take a listen to his feelings on how America is F*cked (Graphically at least):

The most interesting parts in his presentation were showcasing three projects in more detail with his "tall tales." The first project was an identity design he did for his friend's Cobra Dogs hot dog truck. It was fun to see a designer speak about how much he enjoyed a project. Also comparing it to a more well-known company he designed for and saying he got more out of creating something for a less-known company was refreshing to hear. Especially in DC, where I am often asked where I work as an introductory sentence before asking what my name is.

Draplin also discussed how excited he was to work for Obama on the ARRA and TIGER projects. He showed his logo process and his enthusiasm for our President. I think it is really great that they sought him out to contribute to the country.

The third project was designing an identity for a farm in Illinois. He got to know his client on the phone and they had personal conversations throughout he course of the project. They both agreed the logo design set price at $1,000. After some time, Draplin realized the man he was working with was John Hughes, the legendary Hollywood director of movies such as The Breakfast Club, Uncle Buck, Home Alone, and more. They had a phone relationship and Hughes appreciated that once Draplin discovered who he was he didn't add on an extra 0 to the fee. Hughes had Draplin design business cards for his fictional characters. Then he died. Draplin spoke on the phone with his sons and they said the business cards were given out at the funeral.

We also found out that besides his hate of Republicans, Draplin also dislikes Kid Rock, Toby Keith (he said he had a nose job and I later researched it online and could not find evidence), sandals at a wedding, Guy Fieri, and more. Draplin is definitely a man who wants to preserve good design, pays respect to the past, and knows his culture. He also reminded me not to forget logos that read well when reproduced at a small size. He knows himself and for that I appreciate his quality work and his talk.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Carolyn Belefski - Nominee for Best of D.C.

I am nominated for Washington City Paper's Best of D.C. Readers Poll in the category of "Best Visual Artist." It only takes a couple seconds to vote. I'd appreciate if everyone took a moment to vote. Thank you!

The poll closes March 1st at 11:59PM EDT

Carolyn Belefski has been nominated for Best Visual Artist
Carolyn Belefski is the writer and artist of the comic strip Curls at She is constantly improving her skills and touring the east coast appearing at comic conventions and art shows.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Donkeys & Elephants: A Celebration of American Political Cartoons

On Saturday, January 12, 2013, I attended "Donkeys & Elephants: A Celebration of American Political Cartoons" at Studio Gallery in DC.

Here are some photos I took of the exhibit.

Here is more information on the exhibit from the press release:

In January, 2013 Studio Gallery will present a special exhibit which celebrates America’s editorial cartoonists and their work. The show focuses on donkeys and elephants, icons of partisan imagery since the 1800’s, and features more than 70 pieces. It includes some of the earliest cartoons by Thomas Nast portraying donkey and elephants, a special exhibit of some of Herb Block’s (Herblock) work, and over 50 contemporary cartoons from around the country and the world illustrating America’s political scene during 2012.  
 On Tuesday, January 22, from 6 – 8 PM, Kevin Kallaugher, editorial cartoonist for The Economist Magazine, will give a presentation titled “From Pen to Pixel: The Cartoons of Kal.”  His presentation will include a review of Kal’s cartoons on the Obama administration.  The presentation is open to the public.  
 Donkeys and Elephants is a timely and thematically colorful exhibit whose goal is to inform the public about the history of political cartoons and the important role they play in the media and in American democracy today. Editorial cartoonists have always played a critical role in America’s editorial pages. Today, in a technologic world that communicates increasingly through images, they have found a renewed importance in the online and social media sphere. 
The exhibit has been made possible with the generous support of the Herblock Foundation.   Studio Gallery will also feature a lecture by Kevin Kallagher, editorial cartoonist for The Economist magazine who has been described by The World Encyclopedia of Cartoons as "one the premier caricaturists of the (twentieth) century."

WHERE: Studio Gallery, 2108 R Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008

Friday, January 11, 2013

District Comics in 'A literary introduction to Washington'

District Comics: An Unconventional History of Washington, DC was featured on the cover of The Washington Post's Style section yesterday and included in their 'literary guide to Washington.'

You can read about it here along with their other book choices, including Carla Hall from The Chew, one of my favorite TV shows.

It's really an honor to be getting so much press coverage from The Washington Post. They also recently named it one of the best books of 2012 in addition to the Top 10 Graphics/Comics Reads of 2012.

Joe Carabeo and I worked on the story "Spytini" for District Comics about the Red Spy Queen, Elizabeth Bentley.

Thanks to Matt Dembicki for editing District Comics and thanks to Dale Rawlings for the top photo of the newspaper.