Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with Piper Haywood, a designer and front-end developer based in the UK who makes up one half of the design studio SB-PH. Piper has been running digital coffee sessions for the past month as people across the globe are isolated and affected by Covid-19. Having come across her work with Sam Baldwin before and wanted to get some advice on how a creative might start learning to program, I signed up for a session!
My conversation with Piper was awesome. Talking to someone who also came from a visual arts background was especially helpful insofar as the conversation was not solely centred on the technical aspects of programming. I have spoken to CS graduates before for advice on how someone like myself can get started, what resources I should look into and books to read etc. While this was helpful in its own way, much of what I was trying to do in taking this approach felt a bit pedestrian and prescribed. At the same time I have been trying to run before I knew how to crawl - I don’t know the proper terminology surrounding many things like HTML, CSS and JS, nor do I understand how certain things function or perform. I have been trying to build fully polished things having had little foundational knowledge.
However, despite not having the technical knowledge that a fresh CS graduate might possess, there was one asset that I did have and they lacked. Piper remarked on how having a creative background can be a huge strength when programming and building things, particularly when it comes to problem solving. Where the typical CS approach might be more of a linear A-to-B method, being able to think creatively can start to open up some truly unique ways of working. The technical know-how, while also important, is what Piper described as rote-knowledge - something black and white that just takes continued practice to build up.
Having had this discussion and reflection, it has given me a renewed push towards learning and making. The first step for me is picking up the terms and concepts associated with programming, particularly in front-end technologies, and consistent practice + play!
Part of this consistency is writing down and keeping a record of whatever I am doing. I used to do this religiously in art school and it really worked well for me, so I think it’s about time to pick that up again.
See you tomorrow,