Ever since I was a kid, my passion has always been anything art, illustration & design. Today, I rarely leave home without my sketchbook, pens, a laptop with CorelDRAW Graphics Suite installed, and a Wacom tablet. I love CorelDRAW and PHOTO-PAINT. So when I recieved the wonderful invitation from Cecile Brosius at Corel to come visit them at Corel HQ in Ottawa, Canada, I instantly said yes. There was no hesitation at all.
My trip started by getting just 2.5 hours of sleep before getting up in the middle of the night, and heading straight to the airport. I made a stop in London, England and then caught a connecting flight to Canada. I was basically up for 48 hours with just a power nap on the airplane. It was worth it.
As well as being a daily user of Corel´s graphics software, I have been a beta tester of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite since version X4. Through the years, I got to know many people at Corel without meeting them in person: through beta forums, emails and Skype. To finally meet them all was great.
What a great bunch of people they are. I just loved having meetings, talking about hockey over coffee and even giving them a hug or two.
I flew over the Atlantic from Sweden. Cecile from Corel came to the Ottawa airport to welcome me to Canada. She quickly got me a donut and coffee from Canada’s own coffee chain: Tim Hortons. She tricked me into believing they would treat me to a Canadian specialty – a Beaver Tail. After the initail shock thinking I would be treated a real beaver’s tail, this gorgeous animal, she told me it was a pastery and not a real beaver’s tail. Phew! I later went for a cinnamon BeaverTail and a coffee. “It’s a Canadian tradition.”
She drove me to the hotel in downtown Ottawa; a nice, busy area with restaurants, cafés, art & culture and typical American architecture. Tired as she had suspected I would be after traveling across the Atlantic, she let me have the first afternoon for myself. I truly needed to rest after a long trip. I took a short walk around the neighbourhood, stopped at a tattoo shop in downtown Ottawa and flipped through the portofolio of tattoo designs. When talking with them, I was so tired that I was not making sense – they thought I was high, blurping out words covered by a tired man’s mouth. I headed to the hotel and later crashed in bed late in the evening; trying to get in tune with the time zone.
Gérard Metraillier, who is a such a great guy by the way (like every single person I met at Corel), picked me up the next day after breakfast at the hotel, and took me to the Corel HQ buidling. We parked the car in the garage and entered their office. Having used their software – CorelDRAW and PHOTO-PAINT – since 1997, it was amazing to enter the building where they create it. It was like I entered the holy grail. It was great fun to see their logo on the building next to a builidng with a VOLVO sign. I felt at home.
The days at Corel HQ were fun, intense, interesting, inspirational, and emotional; meeting all the people whom I have had contact with for so many years via the beta forum and emails.
Throughout the stay, I had meetings with the Senior Vice President and GM, Corel Software, Nick Davies; Creative Services and PR teams; Development and QA teams; User Designer Experience team; Product Management and Product Marketing teams; and two Dev Team members for Corel Painter at a meeting where I showed how I work using PHOTO-PAINT. They compared my workflow, tools and features with Corel Painter. This was very rewarding. Just the very thought of showing how I work with their software was rewarding. I also met Mark Adam with the camera, and Roger Wambolt with the box of chocolates. The days couldn’t be more intense, fun and always interesting.
After the first meeting in the morning, there was the big pizza lunch. Everyone grabbed pizza slices and a lottery ticket. There were several people who won prices – I won as well. I was very surprised. I planned on buying a new Wacom Intuos 4 or 5 when I got back home to Sweden the week after, when surprisingly, I won a new Wacom Intuos 4; perfect! I also won a ticket to The National Arts Centre, to watch the English Theatre play of Pride and Prejudice. Other Corel employees won the same ticket. So Saturday night I went to the theatre. Way back, I used to work on theatres and the opera as a stage hand in Stockholm, Sweden. So it was quite nice to see a play in Ottawa as well. I felt at home.
I was then asked to hold a speach in front of all the people at the pizza party. I was a bit nervous admittedly. It was fun and felt a bit surreal to actually stand there. I mean I came on a plane from Sweden and then I stood there at Corel HQ, eating pizza, talking and meeting all these great people. The athmosphere was wonderful, and the kind reactions to my visit were great. I can’t thank them enough.
But back to Thursday, it was John Falsetto´s last day at Corel and I was very pleased to meet him before he left for another opportunity. Thursday night, a few of us at Corel went for a dinner at a very nice restaurant in Ottawa’s Little Italy. Food and company were top notch, and the evening had a lot of laughs as well as knwoledgable talks around the dinner table.
The next day, several of us went to a local bar & grill restaurant for lunch; great burgers! Tony Severenuk, a CorelDRAW user experience designer, joined us for lunch. I got to know Tony back in 97-99 on various Corel newsgroups. I learned so much valuable stuff from him, and many others in those groups, about using the software. To finally meet him in person was great.
One day, Mark and myself left the buidling to shoot scenes to use in a video, which also allowed me to see more of Ottawa, which was great. The day before we spent time working on the video on-site at Corel HQ. Inbetween we talked hockey, Volvos, Ibrahimovic great soccer goals (football) and other interesting stuff. And of course, we drank coffee. To talk hockey in Canada, by the way, is never wrong.
Before the journey and visit to Corel ended, I had the wonderful opportunity to hang out with the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite Development team. The Dev team and UI team are two groups I have quite a lot interaction with as a beta tester, so to finally get time to hang out with them and take both a group photo and indivual photos was simply great. Pixels didn’t make it possible to mention everyone, but you all know who you are and I thank you all very much!
Unfortunately, Gérards Metraillier’s surprise for me wasn’t possible due to weather. My wish was surely to do it, but the weather stopped it from being possible.
On the last day, Cecile and I went for lunch at the Hard Rock Café before she drove me to the airport and saw to it that I took off safely and on time. Cecile, like Gérard and John, is someone I have quite a lot of contact with at Corel. She always made sure I was where I was supposed to be and on time. She made my visit go like clockwork. Having such an intense trip and schedule, it was so great to have her to count on. I knew Cecile was always there so I never felt lost during this trip. Thank you Cecile!
The whole gang at Corel made me feel that I was part of their great team. I am so grateful for that, and you know I think you create the best graphics software.
A BIG thank you to all of you. You are the best! I already miss you.