Blog Culture

Aaron Draplin and Origins of the Skookum Logo

An engineer working at his desk

Josh Oakhurst

  • Reading Time  Min Read
  • Publish Date October 7, 2013

A few years ago, when we were but a wee a 15-person Skookum, we decided three things:

  • visual identity is an important business and cultural signifier

  • our company/industry was founded on the backs of electronics pioneers

  • "digital manufacturing" is a real, thriving, American industry

In came Aaron Draplin.

Reacting to a "Dying Feeling"

During the identity creation process, Aaron synthesized the feelings we described that we wanted associated with our logo. He said, "You’re reacting to a dying feeling, something that I—and others—are trying to keep alive."

Iterations of Skookum Logo Text Styles

In the video below, I talk more about our impetus for specifically hiring Aaron and also explained what it was like working with him. As you can imagine, the man is an experience unto himself.

The dying feeling—the cultural zeitgeist—surrounding much of Draplin’s identity work is something we wanted to harness. In short, core to the DDC beliefs we wanted to encapsulate:

  • good design is timeless

  • good design is not subjective

  • beauty is marked by simplicity

  • real artists don’t make anything on a machine that they couldn’t make by hand

Early Skookum Logo Iterations

In searching for a mark, we specifically wanted to intone that we are building on a history, that we are creators of innovation, and that technical and scientific inventors are at work. That we are an organization built from the first human beings raised in a digital world, and that our interests as creators of that world have origins in our electronic upbringing.

In short: vintage Lockheed meets 3-2-1 Contact.

"Reminds me of Atari!"

Atari 2600 and Logo

Certainly, there is something to the negative space of our mark that gives people a warm fuzzy. We’ll take it, every time.

Though the logos are not quite so similar (and below you’ll see more "space volcano" origins), memory recalls to a fun, pioneering electronics time by anyone who sees Skookum and puts people in the right mindset.

Yes, we all grew up with pixels. As we grew older and learned how to make pixels, we also learned how to solder.

First Iterations of the New Skookum Logo

Skookum gets a new Identity

Aaron Draplin as Himself

150 Charlotteans came to watch Aaron entertain, and he did not disappoint.

Here’s the man cracking wise; make sure you grab your headphones. (If you’re stuck in cubicle-land and hate fun, note potential NSFW language.)

Bonus Round: DDC vs Schmerv The Cat

Step one: identity. Step two: fresh gear. Shortly after our engagement with Aaron, one of my cats was gravely injured.

Right before Aaron spoke, I posed the theory that good design might actually save lives.

Schmerv vs DDC hat

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