Getting started with Creative Coding

I quite get often asked for advices on how to get started with creative coding. These are my most essential tips for beginners.

A man at a blackboard, showing his space rendezvous concept for lunar landings. Lunar Orbital Rendezvous (LOR) would be used in the Apollo program. I know this image makes no sense, but you must admit that it seems funny in this context.

Understand why it is worth it

The biggest challenge in the beginning is the right mindset. You will probably experience that learning to code is mostly not as convenient as learning a graphical user-interface. At the same time it comes with millions of more possiblities that no proprietary software can ever have.

The skilll of programming had a huge impact on my life in many regards. These days coders with design-skills and designers with coding-skills are very demanded. Realize that coding can transform your situation. It is definitely worth the time, if you enjoy it.

Choose an appropriate programming-language

This is very confusing in the beginning! There are thousands of possible directions to go and most people just suffer from choosing one. My opinion: It does not really matter which technology you learn at first, because the principles are the same across all technologies. Nonetheless, if you are interested in art and design, i personally would recommend to begin with Processing, because of a few good reasons:

  • It is very accessible and easy to learn. You can jump right in
  • it is made for designers just like you
  • The community is huge and friendly
  • There are very good courses and tutorials out there
  • It is the perfect foundation to learn any other programming-language
  • You can export any file-format (images, vector-graphics, animations etc.)

Give it a try. I think you’ll like it!

Create a blog and share your achievements

Whether you write about your progress or you share ideas through images and animations: I would recommend to put your work out there as early as possible. People shall see what you are doing! This has many very interesting side-effects:

  • You will develop a practice of rapid prototyping, which is a great skill
  • You will learn to get comfortable with showing your work to a wide audience
  • You will learn to know people that like what you do
  • You will have a portfolio that you can show to others
  • Good feedback boosts motivation

Convinced? So which platform is the right one? I like Instagram, because all my friends are there. But i’ve started with tumblr, which was nice for perfect gif-loops. It does not matter that much. Choose one. And get started.

Embrace technology in general

These times are crazy: There are so many innovations that have the potencial to change the whole game. The longest time of my life i’ve rejected this, because it simply scared me, but today i believe that creatives must explore, challenge and evaluate technologies. It will help you to understand them in general and to find solutions to make use of them in a good way.

Find sparring partners

An effective method to keep your motivation as high s possible is to find people who start nearly at the same level. To compete with somebody can have a strong influence on your learning process. I’ve experienced this with my friend Patrik Hübner: since 2014 we are companions with a deep passion for the same thing: Creative Coding. Once a week we go out to eat and swap ideas about our newest explorations. Sometimes we do not share the same opinions, but that kind of friction is mostly very powerful and inspiring for both of us.

Attend to meetups

Since 2015, once a year i get together with a dynamic group of creative coders from all over Europe to spend a week in a house in the Netherlands. There, we all work on personal, self-initiated projects. For me, that’s a highlight every year and i enjoy it very much. Furthermore i mostly finish something that i would not have the time for in my daily life. If you like to join us, check this facebook-group

Connect with creative coders worldwide

Facebook-groups are the best way to connect with the huge community all around creative coding. Just take a look at this one: Creative Coding with Processing and p5.js

The Space Shuttle Columbia is launched from Pad 39B on a ten-day mission with a crew of five NASA Astronauts and a Canadian Payload Specialist. The Photograph was taken by astronaut Steven R. Nagel from a Shuttle Training Aircraft. Mission STS-52 payloads onboard include the Laser Geodynamic Satellite II.

Conclusion

Generally speaking, becoming good in something is not just about learning the hard skills. The real problems don’t exist in the code, they exist in our daily routines and our mindset. I hope these advices will help you to identify and overcome these obstacles.

What are your thoughts about that? Did i miss something? Please feel free to drop me a line.

All the best,

Tim

    Published by Tim on Friday July 19, 2019

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