Lily Montague on learning Creative Coding

Published by Tim on Friday April 15, 2022

Last modified on January 25th, 2024 at 14:07


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Say hi to the amazing @lily__montague ! They study Creative Computing and Design in London (here) and have been in my community for a long time. I sneaked them into one of my university courses (which was kind of illegal) and we’ve been in touch ever since. I find it totally inspiring to watch a young person enthusiastically making their way into the world of computation. I recognise myself in so many places here.

Our conversation is about the hurdles in the learning process, the community, studying and much more. I’ve shared the full interview (> 1h) as a video on Patreon. Click here

Massive thanks to my man @johnny_ctrl for the huge support in editing, feedback, etc!

AI Transcript


Tim: People experience programming as something very technical, something that is not creative at all. How did you perceive getting into that world?


Lily: Initially, I was just doing things with my computer. Even like opening the terminal on Mac. I had never done that before and I just found it like the scariest thing ever. And I thought that I was going to break my computer and I would never be able to code again, basically.

Sometimes I did just want to run away from it. Like: “I don’t want it! I don’t want to look at it anymore!” But then obviously, the kick of when it does go right and the finished project. Even if it was just a bouncing ball around the screen, you know, or like a ping pong game. Like that just… yeah. I really, really enjoyed that.


Lily: How I choose to explore creative coding is completely different from how the next person in my course will choose to explore it. Because it’s so vast.

Something like Arduino is another… you know, you can be incredibly creative with that. So there’s many different avenues that just take take everyone’s fancy in a way that is depending on what they’re into.


Lily: I do love university, but I find that sometimes it can be quite difficult because there’s a very big, like, juxtaposition. University is telling me: “You can do anything with your life!” “Go be an amazing designer!” “You have all the skills!” “Companies would be lucky to hire you!” you know? And then the outside world is my inbox full of rejection letters and never feeling like I do have the skills. Sometimes I really struggle with the bubble of university.


Tim: Creative coders are totally demanded on the market. So if you are in a position where you kind of combine this aesthetic and conceptual thinking and put it together with technology, these people are highly demanded. You will definitely get a good job. I’m very sure about that.

The value of your work just increases very quickly when you just have some experience in a specific field. This is very powerful and very empowering experience to feel the value of the own work. People are desperately looking for, for… yeah. For creative technologies who are able to work in this intersection of code, or of technology and design. It is a super, superpower.


Lily: With design and computing I just noticed how it’s just so… it can be so separate. And I really don’t like that. Like they’re all so paared. Everyone of them needs everyone else.

I don’t know, I find it funny in my day how I’ll be like making music with coding for 2 hours in the morning. Then I’ll be making a video with coding. Then I’ll be making a poster for someone with coding. Then I’ll be making a website. And then in the evening I’m like talking about coding. It’s like so many different things you can do with it.


Tim: Open technologies, creative work with technologies is a wonderful and important thing in times when, you know, huge companies kind of hijack the whole Internet and how we use it, which is crazy. Yeah, and that’s why I really love this job. It feels like important work.

That’s what I love about processing as well. Or the processing foundations projects, or its mindset. It’s about sharing free software. It’s about diversity. It’s about including people from all over the world. They’re having a very, let’s say… yeah, a super, super colorful community, which I really love. This idea. So it is this an absolute dream. And at the same time, let’s say, promoting critical and skeptical thoughts about technologies. And empowering people to look into the black box to see what’s behind.


Lily: I very clearly remember the first time that I found your platform. I think it was like on YouTube in the evening or whatever. And running downstairs, because I was staying with my mom, like, my parents at the time. “Mom! Oh, my gosh, look what I just found!”. And I was so excited. I’ve stayed up so late that night going through your website. Going like: “Oh, my gosh, wow, I cannot believe that this thing exists.”

And now, I don’t know, being able to talk about it with you… it means so much. Thank you. Thank you for what you do as well.


Tim: My goodness, this is so amazing to hear. I mean, this is the best thing I can imagine that I can do with someone on the other… very different place. Right. Inspiring you and giving you some ideas. Amazing. Thank you so much Lily.


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