Why I Am an Artist and A Web Developer
To me, being both is a necessity. Not that I care too much about what people think, but many find this combination strange and unique to people. In one of my previous roles as an e-learning developer, some colleagues expressed surprised when they found out that I am also a visual artist who does traditional media. And some of my other artist colleagues were equally intrigued that I was in IT too.
My responsibilities included taking care of a web portal, writing manuals, and doing multimedia elements for training materials. The work was part graphic design, part computer programmer, part movie making, part artist. Yes, I had to design, edit videos, take photographs, create animations, do some coding, and draw. An e-learning developer truly has to be proficient in using both sides of the brain.
These perceptions are based on observations in the workplace and personal experience, too. I code, paint, collage an do printmaking when I have the time. An artist is usually known having endless creativity in him or her, and a web developer, well, that is just analytical and left-brain thinking.
Ever since I was a child, I was very curious about the computer. I joined the school’s computer club, starting building websites (in the era of connecting to the internet with a 56K modem), and did art on the side. My mother does crochet when she is not at work, so I was exposed to lots of her crochet work at home. She too worked in the tech field, involving in the production of disk drives at a well known IT company.
I did a multimedia course in the IT department of a polytechnic after I left secondary school. While I was there, I did IT subjects and part of the requirement to graduate was that we had to take subjects that are outside of our disciplinary, so I took some subjects in Design and in Business schools, as I thought they were relevant to my study in Multimedia. Around this period I was also interested in street art.
People seem surprised that someone who is interested in computers would also be interested in art. They seemed to think that being a developer or being in tech and being an artist are two separate fields of work. A developer seems as-a-matter-of-fact, precise, methodical, and painting seems to be more fluid, creative, spontaneous, the very exact opposite. Both are wrong. Decimal numbers so precise can be abstract, and there also can be structures and restrictions in art too.
There are many reasons as to why I find and see similarities between developers and artists. Ways of working in both. An artist, and a developer, both start with a blank canvas. You come up with drafts, sketches, notes, it requires a lot of abstract thinking, trying to connect things and creating something special with minds and hands.
I am also in the favour of having more than one career. It offers flexibility and excitement. It all sounds like disparate activities, but to me, a day like that is a stimulating challenge, and exactly the way I like to work. This conglomerate of activities and projects is what I call my “portfolio career.” I see it as a work equivalent of having a diversified portfolio of financial investments.
People use both sides of their brains anyway
Arguing that art and tech should and could remain separate is definitely missing the point. Not all developers are the same. A student developer might be struggling in a difficult math class, where art can be used as a visualisation tool to solve problems.
I can think up of more reasons but this will suffice for now. Over to you. Do you have very varied interests too? What do you do and how do you juggle when you have too many interests?