Originally written for AIGA Jacksonville – Always Summer is historically one of AIGA Jacksonville’s most popular events, and this year was no exception. With the success of previous years in mind, we decided to switch things up a bit and go for the gusto by rolling in an awesome design speaker event to kick off our Always Summer Weekend. It was a blast to be immersed in unparalleled design inspiration from across the country and, in the same weekend, to see all of the incredible talent that Jacksonville has to offer. Since this is our first time combining a speaker event with a community contributed design show, we hope you’ll provide us with your feedback.
The Always Summer Weekend got underway Friday, September 30 at the AT&T building in Downtown Jacksonville, with speaker Aaron Draplin of Draplin Design Co. (DDC). Prior to the event, I knew Aaron was an incredible design talent and sidesplitting copywriter, but I had no idea the level of entertainment and education that was about to unfold. It was such a privilege to have him here for many reasons. Aaron is a premiere performer and currently one of the most highly sought-after speakers — and with good reason. His acclaimed presentation, “Tall Tales from a Large Man” is brilliant and a must-see. Many claimed it was the best speaker event they had been to, and I have to wholeheartedly agree. Not only did he travel all of the way from Portland to be with us, but he came straight to Jacksonville from his presentation in Philadelphia the night before—a marathon of entertainment.
Aaron brought the audience through the full range of emotions, pinpointing moments of introspection with many laughs and even some tears. He shared personal stories about life-changing events, clients, projects and conquests that were so raw, real and incredible that they could only be presented in person. He was a catalyst for personal and professional epiphanies for everyone in attendance, and I have no doubt that he positively impacted the creative culture for graphic designers in North Florida forever.
Aaron was unbelievably authentic and quickly became part of our design community, even during the short period of time he was here. While battling harsh, unforgiving deadlines resulting from a challenging travel schedule, he found time to do some serious Southern junking, Jacksonville style with local designers Levi Ratliff, Jonathan Lawrence and Brian Nelson. He even swung by the 3rd Annual Always Summer Poster Show on his way out to see what Jacksonville was bringing to the graphic design table. Overall, it was an amazing, valuable experience for many in our AIGA Jacksonville chapter, and one that I, personally, will never forget.