Steambot Studios started with just two members no more than six years ago. “[At first there was] just Thierry ‘Barontieri’ Doizon and myself,” explains co-founder David ‘Vyle’ Levy. The pair went through industrial design school together in France ten years before their collaborative venture. From the very beginning the pair formed a clear ethos for the studio that they have strived to maintain. “The idea was to gather artists under a common cause and protect us from The Man,” he reveals. “We effectively took our future into our own hands.”
The pair had grown a reputation online within the digital-design community, but only as individuals, so both struggled to make any significant impact professionally. However, they soon realised the value of strength in numbers, as Levy reveals: “Having a collective identity was the way to promote ourselves and have more clout than a single artist, who is at the mercy of questionable management.”
From very humble beginnings, with absolutely no capital, Steambot Studios began planning its first intellectual property, Exodyssey. “With only a rough sketchbook at hand, the idea was discussed at a local cafe,” Levy tells us. Here they invented a core commercial idea that would gravitate more and more artistic talent to their cause. The team has expanded beyond recognition since then, to include talented individuals such as visual director Joël ‘Feerik’ Dos Reis Viegas and Montréal studio manager Sébastien ‘rainart’ Larroudé.
Larroudé joined the team with his keen eye for photography, meaning compositing became a big part of Steambot’s style. “For us, Exodyssey became an obsession, a place where we could all gather round and discuss our daily frustrations, our angers, but more importantly our visions,” he says. “It also became an experimental place for us to develop our own characters and personalities through very passionate, often fiery discussions.”
The team continued to overcome obstacles and creative individuals joined who could help conquer production dilemmas. “Coming from the animation business, Joël (Dos Reis Viegas) was adopted pretty much the same day we met him,” Levy says. “He became a real driving force behind our projects too.”
After these initial experimental years, the dynamic within the team changed, responsibilities were adopted and a major turning point was drawing near for the studio. This is when Levy feels Steambot Studios transformed into a true company. Sadly, that meant departures, but Levy himself adopted the role of CEO, due to his experience as an art director in videogames. “I now take care of managing the links between accounting and contracts and do a lot of the customer connections from Los Angeles, where I live and work,” he explains.
Dos Reis Viegas, with his raw talent and punchy vision, became the energy behind Steambot Studios’ image and is now its visual director. Larroudé oversees all projects and clients in Canada and is producing the studio’s future line of products. “Our producer in Austin, Texas, Kristy Tipton, manages our shop and seminars along with her husband John Tipton,” explains Levy. “We’ve also just hired a website manager and a graphic designer. We mostly connect with one another online, as we are for the most part separate by locality.”