how coding my website improves my art

by     /    November 11, 2009   

This past week I’ve been hard at work on my website, improving the backend and adding new features. I am adding keywords to all my photographs, so that you’ll be able to explore my art in a new dynamic way. You will also soon be able to save your favorite photographs to a “lightbox” that you can retrieve at any time. This will make my site a much more versatile tool for planning design projects, or just exploring.

Did you know that I build my website myself? Oh yes! Coding my website has always been a great pleasure. I’ve been making websites since 1994, and have always enjoyed its unique combination of visual design and programming. I love being able to transform an idea into a working tool out of the raw materials of code and files. The detail-focused problem-solving nature of coding also provides a wonderful counterpoint to the more free-form nature of making art.

A snippet of code from my website.

A snippet of code from my website.

I create my website the old fashioned way, typing the code in by hand. I often get incredulous looks from other artists about this. Why would an artist want to be messing around with something so geeky, so “not artistic”? But I don’t believe that making art and coding websites are so at odds with each other. By tapping into different parts of my brain and using separate sets of skills, these two creative skills help me maintain a creative and productive balance. Frankly, if all I did was make art all day every day, I’d go crazy. It’s just too much of the same thought process! I need to turn my artistic brain off from time to time in order to let it rest and recharge. And doing nothing doesn’t achieve this: even at rest, my artistic brain is still churning, working. I have found that I really need to switch gears, to dip my hands in some code, and force my brain to think and work in a different way. By coding my website, I allow my artistic side to quiet down and regroup. Then when the coding burns me out, I can return to making art at full force.

Alternating between art making and coding allows both processes to be better, stronger. The craft of coding informs my art, helping me logic through a problem, transforming a flash of inspiration into a workable idea. And the spontaneous expression of art making informs my website design, allowing me to see possible solutions before I even know how to make them.

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Comments on 'how coding my website improves my art'

Roberta  (November 12th, 2009):

I totally agree with you. Designing a website is also a creative process too, so while the technical side is totally different, there is still this aesthetic side that satisfies the artistic senses.

Mark  (November 14th, 2009):

I am impressed by anyone that can do it by code alone.

However, I am not convinced that there isn’t a bit of crazy in that effort also. :-)

Tim Parkin  (January 2nd, 2010):

As another photographer developer, I can really understand that. There is beauty in coding; just like photography, simplicity pays too.