Becoming a Creative Coder — Designer vs. Developer #7

of the projects you worked on Sweaterify. I think I’m
pronouncing that right. And it kind of amazed
me that looking at code from an artistry point
of view, like code is an art form or as a medium. And what you think about that? MARIKO: Yeah, so the Sweaterify
was basically browser-based way to experiment and test
a knitting pattern and then visualize
it in front of you before you actually spend
time on knitting stuff. The way I came
across was that when I was making knitting pattern,
knitting comes in two forms. It’s like a graph
paper, pretty much visualizing the blueprint
of what it looks like. Or it comes in the form
of written instructions. So it’s cast on
this much stitches and then knit this pattern. It’s in a written language. And then when I noticed was
that it is really close to code. It was very much knitting code. So I was like, oh, I can just
put that into my JavaScript. I was working with
JavaScript in my work then. So I can do it in JavaScript. And that’s how that it
kind of got started. But then realized
that I can quickly iterate my creative process,
because it is in code, and all the variables
were all in. And the place I can
tweak the variables. I can see what it’s like
in 100 different versions. And I find it
really interesting. Then I discovered a
creative coding community, that does a generative art. So the art is the output. But then they write code. And they kind of experiment
with different algorithms and tweak the variables
and then see what happens. It’s a really different approach
from software engineering. In software engineering– I
work in software engineering– it’s just like you don’t
really want unexpected result– [LAUGHTER] –and forget what
you need to have. It’s all defined, and then
you write a code for it. But then when you
think about the coding of the creative
process, you start to introduce fun to like,
oh, what if I change that to negative 1? MUSTAFA: And the
fear of the unknown, while you’re embracing– I know I want to create
something interesting, but I have no idea what that is. And then you just let
the pieces fall in. MARIKO: Yep. MUSTAFA: I mean, how do you
go about sketching that stuff? Because I mean,
when a designer’s– I mean, I can’t
design in a browser. I don’t understand
how anyone can. Not necessarily
literally sketching. It could be anything, like
writing code, comments, or whatever. But I mean, how do you– because that’s the
bit which I find so difficult to understand this. If I look at the
code, and it looks like looking at
the matrix, I don’t understand how you get from– it’s almost like, write
code, question mark, profit. Do you know what I mean? It’s like how you
actually get to– what’s the process of actually
designing the thing? MARIKO: Yeah. Designing the thing. So I feel like
there was iteration, like anything with anything,
there was iteration of stuff. But I start with paper,
actually, so I have an idea. If I was creating some kind
of art or visual or something, I would go for, like, I
want to have this circle on this page or a visual set. Pretty much it comes
from a visual mindset. So I can’t start from logic. I just start from
like, here is the thing I want to see on the screen. Granted, it will not end up
like that at all at the end. But then I get to code after
I have some basic ideas of how my visual wants to look like. And then there is
another design iteration of negotiation between whatever
technology that I’m using, usually browsers and JavaScript
and Web API that like– I thought I want to make
this interactional paper, but it doesn’t really
work on browser because I changed the medium. And that’s my medium. And negotiation between
technology and my creativity of, how can I achieve what
I wanted to do in my head on this medium that is
usually the browser for me? And sometimes it’s impossible. Or sometimes it’s not
reasonable to do the interaction that I thought I want to
make on my head or paper. And I’m like, all right. And then sometimes,
I discover, like, a new API or a new
thing in browser and being able to like, oh,
actually, I can change that. This is quite interesting. I can change my original design
to do something different. So it’s usually ended up like
a completely different thing from what I originally sketched. But I quite enjoy the
discussion and negotiation between technology and me. It’s kind of like a game
of, like, I have this plan. Can I do this in browser? And will browser let me do this? If not, can I find a loophole? Is there a kind of
querying up the level? MUSTAFA: And playing
a game, basically, with the technology to help
discover what is possible and what isn’t. I mean, also, you can often take
lessons learned from that art into your– I mean, it may
not be like you’re doing some generative pattern. But it’s like a
technique or coding thing that you can bring back
in, which is, like, invaluable. Right? MARIKO: Mm-hmm. Totally, totally. I learned so many things
like code snippets that I ended up using in my
production code for my job. MUSTAFA: So do you
recommend knitting as a way to learn how to do it? MARIKO: I do. It’s quite a rhythmic,
quite algorithmic process. I recommend anybody to do it. It’s quite binary, knitting. I’m going into
super geeky stuff. But in knitting,
there’s two versions of stitches, which is like
pulling the yarn from the back or pushing the yarn
from the front. And that creates a different
face of a knitwear. And the combination of that
creates complicated patterns. So it’s basically binary. And how are you
arrange that binary and how you repeat that
binary pattern becomes the final product. So when you are designing
the knitting pattern, it’s quite like exercise
of defining the algorithm to get to this pattern. MUSTAFA: For a designer to get
to a [INAUDIBLE] of see code as like paint or whatever,
or once you develop it, it’s just embracing
the unpredictable. I mean, what advice
would you give to them? MARIKO: So I think
every time I do creative projects, the question
I get, or the feedback I get, is like, so what, or what
does it do, how is it useful. And getting over those mentality
of like if you do code, you have to make a useful
tool that everybody’s going to use and get
so many GitHub stars and you get VC funding
and start a startup. MUSTAFA: Yeah. MARIKO: I’m like, you
don’t need to aim for that. You can just use coding
as a creative expression to flex the creative muscles. And once you’re thinking
about what I’m making, it doesn’t have to make money. It doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to
help somebody else. This is purely for
my fun and discovery. And it gets a lot
easier to experiment. It gets a lot easier to– I don’t know– get
into code and just make 100 different versions that is
not [INAUDIBLE],, don’t get past them. That’s totally fine. SPEAKER 1: Providing a
perfomative experience is something that requires
close collaboration between two sides. I don’t think I’d ever seen
skeleton screens as a concept until I started reading blogs
the designers were working on. SPEAKER 2: Yeah.

9 Replies to “Becoming a Creative Coder — Designer vs. Developer #7”

  1. "Getting over the mentality of if you do code, you have to make a useful tool that everybody is gonna use and get so many GitHub stars and get VC funding and start a startup; You don't need to aim for that. You can just use coding as a creative expression to flex that creative muscles. Once you think about what I'm making doesn't have to make money, doesn't have to make sense, doesn't have to help somebody else. This is purely for my fun and discovery…"

    Love it!

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