If you “have a case of the Mondays” then there are two ways to feel better:
- Enjoy some Sysadminotaur comics, and put a smile on your face (my favorite is DDoOOOoS).
- Sit back and enjoy this very special edition of our New Employee Spotlight, because it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Patrick Désilets — yes, that’s right, the creator and illustrator behind Sysadminotaur!
As I mentioned previously, Patrick is joining us full-time to work on a special new project for Sysadminotaur. How cool is that? Recently, I had the chance to chat with Patrick to learn more about his very interesting background. Here’s a look at our conversation:
Can you tell me a bit about your professional background?
I studied classical animation — that is old-school 2D hand-drawn animation frame-by-frame on paper, like in the early days of cartoons. I now work digitally, but it's always 2D animation with actual drawings, never CGI. I've been a freelancer for most of my career, on both large and small projects: TV series, video games, commercials, comics, etc. I've worked as an animator, illustrator, storyboard artist, background artist, color artist, designer, animation director, and I've directed a few things. I've worked on Sysadminotaur as a freelancer, and recently started doing that full-time.
What would you say is your biggest professional achievement so far?
Other than Sysadminotaur, I've been animation director on a few cartoon TV series, which was quite the challenge, but also very exciting. It involved problem-solving both technical and creative issues, management skills, good communication, tight deadlines, long hours, relatively scarce resources, many decisions, overseas teams, and overall quick thinking. It's a colossal team effort, but as a challenge it's very rewarding. Plus, some of those shows have won awards and are being broadcast around the world, and that's the icing on the cake.
What was it about Devolutions that made you want to work here?
I was fortunate enough to be given this great opportunity to create what became Sysadminotaur, a comic strip about the daily lives of IT pros. Starting a project from scratch is always very exciting, because you get to come up with characters and ideas. And I loved having the flexibility to improve and refine it as we went along. I also found the company culture here, which is collaborative and open, very appealing.
What would you say are your top three strengths at work?
I'm always trying to learn and improve, and find ways to do better. And while I’m very independent and autonomy is vital to me, I work well on teams. I also have a good understanding of how to bridge the gaps between the creative and the technical, and the priorities of management.
But most importantly: I exude an extremely powerful scent of Aqua Velva and Old Spice, which deters enemies.
What tasks do you carry out in your job, and what are some of the tools that you use?
I create all of the Sysadminotaur comics, and am in charge of all related artwork and illustrations. We come up with each strip by pooling our ideas together: anecdotes, user stories, shower thoughts, etc. Then I write them into proper scripts and draw them.
Speaking of drawing, that part has taken an increasing amount of time as the comic has become more polished. Somewhat surprisingly, one of the challenges is to remain focused on the comedic aspect throughout the process. That’s because the longer that process is, the more small decisions and opportunities there are to tweak or improve things — which increases the risk of losing sight of what made the idea funny in the first place, especially if the humor is subtle. Of course, keeping things funny is the top priority. A badly-drawn funny comic beats a nice looking but un-funny comic any day of the week.
As far as tools go, I like drawing some early rough sketches on paper. I'm a bit of an art supply nerd, so I'll sometimes use funky brushes and exotic pens and pencils, for no good reason other than it's just fun and it helps me to find a good flow. But that's only for the very early super-rough sketches. Most of the work is drawn directly in Photoshop on a Cintiq. If animation is involved, then it's Adobe Animate, After Effects, and Toon Boom. And lastly, I wear a helmet at all times.
What are your impressions about working here?
I very much love the company culture of collaboration, respect, transparency and openness. I find the overall philosophy of the company, both in terms of conducting business and workplace environment, to be really positive. My experience with the team so far has been nothing short of excellent. And my experience with The Simpsons pinball machine has been almost as good. I'll get you one day, Moe.
What goals would you like to achieve at Devolutions?
I'm always looking for opportunities to improve my craft, and in this case it seems like the sky's the limit. Web comics are a very open format, which allows for a lot of creativity, both in terms of writing and artwork. We're starting to look into broadening the medium a bit, and have incorporated a small amount of animation in a recent comic. We’re also planning to go further in that direction, and that's exciting. In fact, now that we have achieved the completion of one animated GIF, I believe our interactive tactile AI hologram of Maurice should be ready pretty soon.
On a personal note, what are some of your hobbies and interests?
I love biking, doodling, nature, and traveling. I'm compulsively curious; I love to learn and try new things. I also tend to read obsessively when something new interests me, like to follow the news, and I'm quite interested in history and how we fit in it. I play video games only very casually and rarely, except for Civilization, which I cannot play at all because it's always "I'll play for ONLY ONE HOUR" and a minute later it’s tomorrow morning.
Other interests include: national parks, craft beverages, je-ne-sais-quois, weird plurals, jaywalking, bongos, brisket & bourbon, prototypes, space-age exotica, dunking donuts, whistling & rocking my feet & jangling my keys AKA acting normal, misinfotainment, goods & services, lavish Philistinism, Zeno of Citium, casually pompous entries in long enumerations, tacos, cacti, and enjoyment.
Please share a few words with our community of IT pros:
I hope you guys have fun reading Sysadminotaur! Your feedback is always appreciated, and knowing that someone got a chuckle out of a comic always makes my day.