Translating Information Technology workday life into Art

I’m not always the most literal person when it comes to art. Things that happen go through the internal filter and sometimes the things that come out are a bit different.

I don’t draw monsters, I draw people, however they look a bit funny and monster like. I am not sure why. My hand just does it and i go with the hand.

The Sprint Demo

“The Sprint Demo” – I was lucky enough to be the test analyst on an agile project. Every two weeks we released a bit of functional software and we got all the stakeholders along to a presentation of view what we’d done. The nature of my team meant that by the end, it went a bit into farce – we at least amused ourselves creating presentations with sounds and special effects. This is a pretty accurate representation of the system analyst and the developer, as they showed the business people what was going on.

So, one of the things I tend to do is view my current job as valuable source material for creating artwork.
Usually the art that comes from work is done by sketching out a drawing based on something that has happened – often  in the train on the way to or from work – then i draw up a rough sketch in pencil on A3 watercolour paper.

I like using the watercolour pads, they are easy to port around and all the same sizes.

I then ink the outline with a fineliner, then i use watercolour to fill it in.  I build up layers, add textures, and and then shadows.

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“The Technology Architects” – this is a pretty accurate summary of what those guys do all day. Lots of balancing acts between software, hardware, future projects, existing issues, and a fair bit of standing around looking confused.

I’m still figuring out watercolour. I learnt to paint with a box of oils, so watercolour is the opposite in approach to this. You have to work out the bits you are not going to paint first and avoid putting paint on the bits you want the brightest.   My mastering of the technique is coming along slowly but surely – i have a long way to go.

My first paintings were very flat, as i’ve been going along I’ve learned to do textures, get depth. I am not into doing the type of painting where you soak the paper and do a wet wash and let it dry and come back later and build up the layers, that just is not how I roll.

Frankly I find the attempt of planning how something is going to look UP FRONT horribly tedious.


“Training, Pertaining, to TI/TPD” – this painting was done after we delivered some software around the way that the insurance was calcualated. The training sessions  were long and complicated and no one really wanted to be in there. The trainer is one of those enthusiastic types who just always looks excited despite the gentle snores from the room.

I like to launch in and do things and see how it goes. Planning tends to happen as I go, based on what I just did, as I work on things they evolve and morph and change. How can you know what something will look like until you start doing it? – This is why I cannot design or make plans up front, it’s a process, and the joy of doing it is in the process.

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“Automation Testing” – clearly automation testing is done by Robots, yes?

It’s easy to go awry with watercolour, you do a little mistake and it’s there to stay. If you can turn them into happy accidents, all the better.

I also need to get better at working out where shadows come from.  I’m getting better. Some of my early watercolours, bow they  look a bit naff to me.

the infrastructure manager

“The Infrastructure Manager” – this was painted for someone who has to keep his fingers in many pies, to control many bits and bobs that make up the technology that all modern businesses use. Plus. ONE EYE! I love things with one eye.

There are so many things that happen at work that are interesting – or that can be TURNED INTO something interesting. Meetings, encounters, bits of work. If you think of it as ‘I go to work, put my head down, finish my work, go home’ – BORING. I would go spare. Work is an ecosystem of politics and incidents and a lot of them are funny, a lot are distressing, and a lot are tedious. I pick out the more interesting bits and say ‘how would i represent this’ and usually it all flows from there.


“The operations of Sisyphus” – Sisyphus was that greek legend dude, he pushed a rock up hill forever. This is what sysops (system operations) do all day, only they are also attacked by unexpected events all day, just to ‘keep the lights on’

Sometimes it’s nice just to get some frustrations out by drawing it. It’s a form of mediation. It’s very soothing to have a rough day and come home and do a bit of art that expresses how you feel.

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“Technology Managers” – they are surfing the crazy wave, heading towards a rocky cliff that has tanks on it. Every now and then you fall into the ocean and the sharks get you, but if you can get back on the board and surf, you should be ok.  

And sometimes i just want to draw or paint so i think of some people i like and do a painting of their area or what i see their job as.


“Documentors Strike back” – the struggle and war between the sorts of people who think truth is in an 80 page document, versus the sort of people who think truth is in the attempt to get what is actually happening and actually needs to happen with a bare minimum of fuss. Guess which camp I am in…

While i am working as a Senior Test Analyst, these pictures are going to keep coming. I enjoy them. Most people at work enjoy them too. That is all the reason that is needed, right?


“Service Desk”  – I ‘m pretty sure Chuthulu works on service desk. you have to have a lot of hands, a lot of time, and a lot of deep, forbidden knowledge, to get this stuff done.


“Refactoring the code” – It’s not a bad thing to change around existing softward/code so that it works better. As a tester, though, i professionally disbelieve anything any programmer tells me they have changed and ‘not changed the way it worked’ until i can prove that.


“The Batch Job, 11.38Pm” – anyone remember when a certain big bank had a certain batch job failure that stuffed up everyone’s accounts one night? I’m sure this was the looks on the faces of the people on support that night as they watched it happen.



4 responses to “Translating Information Technology workday life into Art

  1. I love these paintings – and I can certainly see how all of these have applied to my past jobs. “The operations of Sisyphus” is how most of my career has been, really.

  2. Documentors strike back!
    I can see the need for documenting things, but sometimes it is better to run wild and free! I needn’t bother saying which camp himself is in….

    • Documenting is fine, but using documents as the source of truth, ignores the fact of changes, adaptability, etc. Also the stuff has to have been made up and written down at some point, and many specs are pure fiction, but treated as gospel. This is my issue mostly, i need it written but 80 pages of gaff that no one understands is the norm for a big project, hence why they fail to deliver the needs of the business.

      • Indeed. And specs change like the wind.
        BTW, we need it to make long blacks and lattes too thanks. What, you didn’t know this? But it is in the third appendix to the documenation.

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