A Studio Art Major’s Thoughts on Coding

To Code or Not to Code…

I am all for humanities students learning how to code. 

In fact, I am all for all students learning how to code, regardless of their major or disciplinary focus.  I used to think that coding was only relevant to those that wanted to work in software engineering or tech.  However, in the past five years especially, I’ve witnessed the increasing value of having foundational knowledge about the web-based media around us.  For example: How is company’s website made?…Now I know that there are multiple layers to web development, and that a website is a combination of both back-end and front-end work to create the interface that we see as consumers.  Or: What are the different kinds of decisions made in the creation of a website, such as striking a balance between aesthetics, functionality, and navigability? …Now I know some of the creative choices that are made in CSS.

As a studio art major (one that has only ever worked in the fine arts), I considered my discipline to be as far opposite from coding as one could be.  Fine arts are manual and slow; coding seemed solely iterative and automatic.  Fine arts are creative and defined by the human touch; coding seemed to be distant and removed from human individuality.  However, I am now starting to see where studio art and coding may overlap.  Both involve a sense of creative problem-solving, engage in mimicking or alluding to the world around us, incorporate aesthetics, and involve many intentional choices that result in how the final product is presented to an audience.  As Kirshenbaum said, “Programming is, in fact, a kind of world-making… such an activity is connected to the long traditions of humanistic thought I encountered in the classes devoted to my major…many of us in the humanities miss the extent to which programming is a creative and generative activity.”

Prior Coding Experience (or rather, lack thereof)

I had no coding experience until today (I took the introductory HTML and CSS courses on HTML Dog).  I was always so intimidated by coding, so it was truly a pleasant surprise to encounter these easy courses that “held my hand” step-by-step, and even incorporated humor!  I particularly enjoyed the CSS course because that’s when I could start bringing in more artistic choices such as color, text style, spacing, etc.

Code Sample (ft. Sayles)

I wasn’t quite sure what it meant to include a code sample that supports my position, so I’ve simply included a piece of code I completed in my introductory HTML course:

the code
the result



  1. Very interesting post! I don’t know a lot of studio art, but I never would have thought about it overlapping with coding.

  2. Similar to Alejandro. I am curious to know what other art projects and possibilities you are excited about that involve coding! Your posts makes me wonder how coding can be made accessible, so people apply it to more fields.

  3. I know how code can be intimidating for people who have never coded before! I’m glad how you felt that coding is a crucial skill for modern people to have, and I totally agree with you! I really like how you elaborated your own experience in the field of studio arts to develop your arguments about how all students should learn how to code. I had a great time reading your post!

  4. Hi Grace, I liked your article! I’m not a studio art major, but I’m really interested in the visual arts and I agree that coding can be a very useful artistic tool. If you come across any interesting uses of programming in artwork let me know…

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