Python for (typo)graphic designers

Joancarles Casasín and Gustavo Ferreira:

Software is developed mainly by engineers, not by designers. This makes the designer constrained by the engineers’ thoughts and ideas, not by his/her own. Programming gives the designer more control over his/her tools, and therefore over the design process. It allows one to follow the own workflow and think beyond the resources included in the software.

Probably you don’t need to know how to program to be a better designer. But it might help. And it won’t hurt, for sure.

“And it won’t hurt, for sure.”

I’m not so sure. And I think I know why these kinds of arguments back and forth about design and programming ring a bit of a bell and seem honestly somewhat tired.

I design mostly for the web, and I know its languages reasonably well. But I’m afraid that I will always find my own eye for design and taste informed by things like “build quality” and my design ideas strengthened and stunted by my knowledge of the possibilities of the medium. There’s a tradeoff: I know intimately what can be done and so am more likely to push the medium based on my own understanding of its limitations. I also always have the feeling that my creative instincts may be cut short by that same understanding.

The back and forth sounds old because it reminds me of questions like:

  1. Do musicians need to be able to read music to be great musicians?
  2. What is the role of technique in the work of a great painter?
  3. When composing dance, do we need a set of already-established movements, or should we create new vocabularies?
  4. Should we first learn and master the rules so that we may later break them? Or should we commence with open minds and experimental hearts, discovering and rediscovering as we go?