An Interview with our Post-It Note Artist

Puget Systems is full of skilled computer builders. But we also have employees with many other talents. One person I'd like to talk about today is someone with a unique talent who has found a way to share it with a few of our customers. Her name is Beth Smasal, who works as a Production Technician.

As computers move through the build process, Beth sometimes notices notes left by our consultants about our customers. These notes often tell us something about how the customer will use their new computer or maybe a game they want to play or application they plan to use. And if you are one of the lucky ones, Beth might create a Post-It note and attach it to your PC, but you might have better odds finding a Willy Wonka golden ticket!

I have admired Beth's work from afar for the past couple of years and decided to interview her for the blog.

Tell me a little bit about what you do for Puget Systems? What brought you to the company?

I have been building PCs and servers for Puget Systems for 3.5 years now. For the better part of this year I have been cutting bracing for the systems as well. Before I came to PS I was working as a webmaster for a local tabletop gaming company, but the place wasn't doing so well, and I was heading back to school. I needed a stable place to work so I started applying around for tech-related jobs, the writing was on the wall. I came across the ad for a building tech position on a job board and the description sounded fun, so I applied. I recall getting an interview and being hired very quickly which was lucky because the tabletop gaming company that I had been at went under a couple months after I left. I'm so happy I found this job, it got me through college and I'm still having an amazing time working here!

When did you get started doing artwork? Do you have a specific style or other artists that inspire you?

I've been drawing since I was a kid, I find it helps me relax. Currently, I do a lot of ink paintings and watercolors when I'm at home, it's a lot different than the cartoon-style Post-It greetings I do for our customers. Lately I've been focusing a lot on watercolor technique because I enjoy the challenge of new mediums. Painting with watercolors is fairly complex and involves a lot of layering to get a nice effect; it's almost like painting backwards because you have to start with light washes of color and progressively work into the deeper colors and harder lines. Some artists that I enjoy are Zdzisław Beksiński, Jan Švankmajer (art films), and my original love Caravaggio.

How did you first start doing Post-It Note art that would go out to customers with their new computer? Do you remember the first one you did?

I started drawing Post-It greetings a couple months after I began working here and a supervisor noticed. I figured it wasn't a big deal, so I was surprised when it was met with such a warm reception.

What materials do you use to create Post-It Note art?

The greetings that I send out are really simple, they're just highlighters and sharpie on post-its. The stuff I do in my spare time is all over the place; I like working with ink primarily because I think it forces me to get better, there's very little that can be done when you mess up with India ink. I have a series of sculptures and puppets I was working on last year that I am proud of as well.

What has been the response from customers?

I don't remember the first one I did, but I remember many of the times when customers reached out to tell me they liked their doodle. In the orders that we get there is something called an "internal note" which says what the system will be used for; I often get inspiration from that information. I recall an internal note that mentioned the customer was a photographer and he was about to go on a road trip on his motorcycle, so I had a little motorcycle on the greeting. Another time I was building for a small business owner and her logo was a flying pig, so I used that as a theme; she was so happy she put the status update on her Twitter!