Should Programming be considered an Art form?

Programming creative art form or nah? If you talked to me 2 years ago I would’ve laughed if someone told me programming was a creative form and is very expressive. When it comes to programming I think it’s safe to say that the majority of people who are not familiar with programming think of it as something that is majorly influenced by math and overall boring. Majority of people when imagining programming think that in order to build a beautiful and interactive a website, you have to be computer genius or Harvard dropout like Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft. But these beliefs, in my opinion, are wrong and I would love to take this time to open minds on how programming is a logically creative art form.

What is art?

Before diving into programming I wanted to take a step back and explore the subject of art itself? What is art? What are the specifications somethings needs to be considered art?

Imagine your an artist you’ve decided you want to be a painter specializing in acrylics. You begin to try and create a painting. You start with the paintbrush in your hand, and the large thick pad of paper you’ll be applying it to. You have this image of what you want your painting to be are very hesitant to start your painting. It strikes you that you have no idea how to use these tools to accurately represent the vision of artistic beauty inside you.

Fearless, you begin anyway and as time progresses and you lay down different strokes of paint. You begin to discover how hard it is to manage painting with acrylics. The act of painting your vision became really difficult It starts to sink in that this is something completely new you’ll have to master. You come to realize it will take a lot of time and hard work, self-discipline, and self-discovery, and learning from all kinds of different sources you never considered before you’ll be able to use paint for creative expression that matches closely to your original intent.

When you started, you faced a problem as an artist: there was an original, artistic vision of beauty in your mind that you wanted to bring into the world. You found an outlet that can help you express that vision. But when you went to implement the vision in real form, you ran into new problems.

I think something that a lot of people don’t realize is that artist are not stewards of the creations that their tools have wrought, but rather the creators themselves, aided by their tools.

I think what makes a great artist is the skills they have gained from practice and how they use those skills to express their vision.

So how does this relate to programming?

I wanted to introduce the exercise about painting to reflect how an artist creative journey is very much the same as a programmer. A programmer uses the tools she/he has at hand to think of a solution for the current problem and move forward.

When A programmer faces a problem a one needs to figure out a way to get around this problem which requires a lot of creative thinking. Programming is the practice of working through constant errors, breaking down these errors into smaller issues solving them in order to move forward. The route the programmer takes to solve these problems is inventive. Programmers have only a few tools they can use and they need to use these tools to work around the problem. Because they are limited to certain tools a programmer needs to be able to think outside the box, keep an open mind, and explore a problem in many different ways.

The same as any other artist, the programmer faces very real guidelines that dictate what kind of solutions are possible. The best, most creative and clever programmers oftentimes have a great understanding of the rules that dictate what is possible to enact in real form, and a mastery of the computer tools that offer a means of expressing that beautiful solution.

Where the art, beauty, and raw creativity of a visionary programmer shines through is in finding the simplest, most pure, most elegant logical expression which solves a problem.

Programming Tells A Story

Lastly, when viewing paintings or any other type of art form personally I enjoy more the story behind the art than the work itself. I want to know the steps the artist took in order to get to that final outcome, the troubles they had been through and how they overcame it. and I think the same can be said with writing code. It’s incredible how there are so many different ways to come up with one solution. And each solution is different has its own story of how it got there. Each snippet of code holds it’s own story and I think that can be really powerful and beautiful. The beauty in art to me is how creative one can be in expressing their story or vision and I think programming is another way of expressing one's vision. It’s logically creative art.

Fullstack Engineer | Flatrion Grad ’19 !👩‍💻🏳️‍🌈 🇬🇾 | Likes: Traveling, Cooking, Javascript | Dislikes: Systemic Racism, Small Talk

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