MAKE: A Documentary About Staying Creative

By Chris Dickman
Founding Editor,

Portland-based graphic designer Aaron Draplin pauses as he roots through a beaten up wooden box of old printed odds and ends he snagged while "junkin." These are the kinds of ephemera he continually seeks out to add to his archive devoted to the fringes of American typography and design. He digs out a worn embroidered patch, happily brandishes it at the camera and sniffs it! Draplin then cheerfully declares that "It's old, it stinks, it's twenty-five years old or something but it worked twenty-five years ago and it still works today." The moment is pure Draplin although he manages to later top it by confiding that "I've really tricked graphic design into hiring me. But fuck it, you know, I'm proud of it." And so he should be.

I spent the next hour of MAKE, a recent documentary, awaiting the return of Draplin but it had moved on from graphic design. The film is an exploration of how a handful of mostly young, white males attempt to balance the need to make a living while creating worthwhile work and not neglecting other domains of their existence, such as family. Those with such professions as film title designer, director/cinematographer, musician, photographer and muralist do their best to articulate how they've persisted while pursuing a sometimes rocky path. It's an honest effort that, while not providing any surprises, is somehow soothing if you're a freelancer. At least, that was my reaction, although the film could have benefited from the involvement of fewer musicians and more designers, typographers and visual artists.

MAKE, by music licensing platform Musicbed, is available for streaming via Vimeo on Demand, with $3.99 providing access for 72 hours.