Creative Coding Conversations | Jie Qi

This summer, we’re interested in diving into creative coding — a playful, collaborative, and open-ended approach to exploring and creating with digital tools.

With so much emphasis on coding and computer science, we wanted to explore what these ideas look like an a creative context. What does it mean to play, experiment, and create with code? How might educators, facilitators, and artists bring these ideas into their practice? We’ll be hosting a professional development workshop at the Brightworks Annex in San Francisco in August to figure out these ideas together.

In anticipation of the workshop, we’ve been asking friends, mentors, and inspirational thinkers who work with creative coding to share their thoughts, as well as an image of what creative coding means to them. We’re excited to share their reflections and learn more with our Creative Coding PD participants, and to continue the conversation beyond August!

Meet Jie Qi


Tell us about yourself and your work.

JQ:  I'm cofounder and creative director of Chibitronics. I design our toolkits, write resources (our Circuit Sketchbook and new Love to Code Vol 1 book), make videos, teach workshops, give presentations at conferences, and generally try to learn from our community to make better tools and then spread the word! 

What does creative coding mean to you?

JQ: Creative Coding means using code/programming to make things. To invent things that weren't there before. Like artworks or projects that are presents for friends or tell a personal story. Using code to solve problems can also be creative. It's about using it in a way that is meaningful and interesting to you. And preferably lets you play while you create. 

What does creative coding look like in practice?

JQ: For me, creative coding means playing around and often not knowing if something is going to turn out a certain way. So even with a goal in mind, being open to not knowing how to get there but trying things out, learning something new, being surprised, and eventually arriving at something you're happy with. It means being stumped a lot too (since that's all part of the process... if you don't know what's going to happen, you're sometimes not going to know what's happening!)

What would you tell someone who is just starting with creative coding?

JQ: I say be patient. With yourself, and trust that by playing around you'll discover something interesting, even if at first it feels confusing or things aren't working out the way you expect. And that it can be fun to start by remixing something rather than going at it from nothing at all.  Also it's totally okay to ask for help or even start out as a collaboration: I've found that it can be so much more to fun create with a friend (it doesn't have to be lonely), though good communication and trust (that you're working together) is important here!  

Ryan Jenkins