Feel free to pat us on the back – we’ve greatly increased the beard-to-face ratio of the office. And now we officially feel like we belong in Gastown, with the addition of Pat Dryburgh.

Pat Dryburgh celebrating his bearday

Pat’s past work includes a stretch at Perch, where he worked as Sr. User Experience Designer. In addition to designing the user experience and interface for their iOS apps, he also led the branding process, designed their website and most of the marketing materials, like shooting photos and videos to be used in the app and the website.

For the past year and a half he’s been fruitful in his freelancing endeavours in London, Ontario.

Let’s learn even more about our eighth hire.

Q: What appealed to you about Brewhouse? Why did you want to work here?

A: I have a tremendous amount of respect for Kalv, and so that was the first reason why I was interested in discussing a potential role with Brewhouse. Once I got to know the rest of the team and the values they hold as a company, I saw a lot of similarities to the way I think about building both products and a company culture.

For instance, the vast majority of my knowledge comes from learning online. The web design and development community has, from the very beginning, been an open and collaborative community. Brewhouse has instilled these values of collaboration, transparency, and community into their culture, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to share what I’ve learned throughout my career as a freelancer and now as a Design Director with the community that has given me so much.

Q: Describe your career path. How did you end up in design?

A: I consider myself to be an autodidact, and that really started at the age of 13 when I taught myself how to play guitar. Without even the basic understanding of how to tune the damn thing (I focused on the top 3 strings, tuned to E, G#, and B), I set off on a path that would eventually take me all across Ontario and into several Northeastern states to play in a band. Near the beginning of my musical journey, I realized I needed a website and couldn’t afford to have one built for me. So, I did it myself.

Pat Dryburgh playing the guitar

Credit: Edward Platero

It took me a while to come around to the idea that this newfound passion for designing and building websites could actually be turned into a career. I’d never been an “art” guy in school and can’t draw a stick figure to save my life. However, I did understand problem solving and communication, which in my mind is what design is all about. After leaving a music director position at a church and deciding I didn’t want to pursue religious work any longer, I asked to meet with a friend’s father who ran a small design studio in London, Ontario. What I lacked in formal education I made up with passion and hard-work, and after two years of designing websites and managing the in-house digital printing, I left the studio and set off on my own to become a freelancer.

Two years later, I found myself moving out to Vancouver to join Perch.

While my time at Perch was the most challenging and exhilarating experience of my professional career, it also coincided with one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. In July of 2010, my mother was diagnosed with Mesothelioma. Beating all of the odds, she survived several years beyond the average prognosis, but after 18 months of living with the stress of startup life and the weight of seeing from a distance the demise of the woman who raised me I simply couldn’t take the pressure any longer. I ended up driving home so I could slow things down in my professional life and spend more time being with her. She passed on July 7, 2014, two weeks after I officially launched my new freelance business.

It was only a matter of time before I moved back to Vancouver, and I did so thinking I would be coming to continue to build my freelancing business and perhaps grow it into a full-fledged studio. However, shortly after arriving I received an email from Kalv inviting me to have lunch with him, and now here we are. :)

Q: We’re glad Vancouver called you back! And Kalv asked you on a date ;) Looking out 3 - 5 years, beyond the obvious trends, what do you think will be the next big change in our industry?

A: I think the biggest change will be how users interact with the software we create. For decades we saw the keyboard and mouse as the only way to interact with digital interfaces, so much so that certain mobile devices even had little nubs to control a tiny little mouse pointer. Obviously all of that changed with the introduction of the iPhone and touch interactions, but since then we’ve seen even more advances in natural language input, speech-to-text, and even gestures which require no direct contact with the device. By the time we get to Minority Report style interactions, I’ll have to have really upped my cardio game.

Q: We’re looking forward to that world! So what do you think is the most embarrassing professional screw-up you’ve had?

A: I don’t know whether it’s good or bad that it’s so hard to answer this question ;). I think one of the earliest lessons learned in my professional career is that everyone has a limited amount of energy, and that in order to best take care of business you best take care of yourself.

This lesson was learned when I first took the music director position at Trinity Community Church. I was young and hungry, and had just adopted a team of over 50 volunteers from a guy with a wife, 5 kids, and over a hundred birds in his basement (the kids were on the main floor) who had seemingly limitless amounts of energy. In my first few months of working there, I put in countless hours and several all-nighters planning services and pulling all of our music teams together, but wasn’t spending any time on myself. If Sunday was supposed to be the sabbath, I was owed the death penalty several times over.

All of this eventually came to a head one fateful Sunday morning when, having scheduled myself to lead the music that morning, I failed to arrive until just before the second of three services. Thankfully the team was able to step up and cover for me, but obviously I had let them, our church leaders, and the entire congregation down.

The next day I sat with our lead pastor and one of the church elders to discuss the incident, and was basically told I had one more chance before I would be let go. As part of the conversation, we decided I would be allowed to take Tuesdays off as my own personal “Sabbath,” wherein I would focus on my own personal life and completely avoid all aspects of my work responsibilities.

For the next several months, I spent every Tuesday feeding myself spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. I read veraciously, I started journalling consistently, and I relaxed. My sleep schedule started to normalize and I was finding it easier to wake up for those early Sunday morning rehearsals. But most importantly, I found that I was even more productive by focusing and working fewer hours. Then we made the decision to launch two churches in a month, and those Tuesdays went down the drain until I ended up leaving the church altogether.

That need for rest has been incredibly important to my career and personal life, and I’m incredibly thankful that Brewhouse is a place where the need for rest and rejuvenation is not only respected by expected.

But, now that I think of it, it may have been that time I farted in a client meeting.”

Q: That wouldn’t be embarrassing, at all! I’m sure the client thought it was just part of the creative process. You mention that a lot of your skills are self taught. How do you learn about new information?

A: Mostly through online publications such as A List Apart, Smashing Magazine, and the TutsPlus network. I also listen to a few business and design podcasts such as Let’s Make Mistakes and Businessology.

Q: Nice. And do you have a favourite twitter handle you follow?

A: @thetweetofgod, because it’s far more entertaining than the bible.

Q: Last question. What is your favourite quote?

I'm gonna build stuff until I die. --Loren Brichter

Pat’s Expertise

Pat will be adding design as a core competency of Brewhouse. His focus will be on the design process from a visual, user experience, and strategic branding perspective. He has full confidence that the spirit of collaboration will carry on and that he’ll be able to harness the design thinking already existing in the company to create even more compelling and irresistible products for Brewhouse and its clients.

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