I'm not a fan of the term "Creative Coder".
Coding is a creative activity. All coding. Which renders the prefix redundant. To call one style of visual coding "creative" implies other forms are less so. Which isn't true. There is no less creativity in, say, database programming than there is in making imagery or interaction. But one gets branded "creative", while the other doesn't. Which is an insult to many of my very highly skilled colleagues. Either call us all creative coders, or none of us.
Ok, yes, I admit "Creative Coder" is a useful shorthand. So if you need a convenient box in which to put me and my ilk I'm not going to chastise you for using it. As long as we all silently acknowledge that it's essentially meaningless semantically, and that there's a neater way of expressing the same concept that involves a few less syllables.
So, with this in mind... Hi. I'm Matt Pearson and I'm a coder.
"Visual Coder" is a more useful epithet. Or "Interactive Coder". These are more specific, and accurately describe much of my work.
They don't necessarily cover all my work though. I make games too. And informational systems. I also bug-fix 8-year-old content management systems, because I have a mortgage to pay. But "Visual" and "Interactive" headline my favourite forms of work.
I think visually. I like to write systems that make machines express themselves visually. I interpret audio input as visual output. Or data, or movement, or brain waves, or whatever other form of input you have for me.
I like interaction too. I make things to be clicked, touched, waved at, danced with, shouted at, or poked. I don't want my work in glass cases behind a velvet rope; I want your dirty, fat fingers prodding at it. Dirty, fat fingers are what the word "digital" means to me.
My approach to design is inherited from my approach to code - the application of generative/algorithmic methods to the process. This enables me to prototype in great quantity and at great speed. This is most useful in some circumstances. When you have a client who didn't like ANY of the 12 designs you've sent them so far, for the next delivery you can give them 12,000 to choose from. It makes a point at least.
Generative Design is about surrendering a little control of the design process; defining a design "space" and automating the exploration of it. It can be a great approach, if you like fresh perspectives and happy accidents. It's not so great if you just want it "a bit more blue".
I'm not going to start calling myself a Designer any time soon though. In 2012 a project of mine won a bunch of design awards on the other side of the globe, for which some agency bloke I'd never heard of took credit. I didn't mind, because I still stubbornly insist I'm a coder. I've never won a coding award. I don't think there even are coding awards; coders don't need that kind of crap to feel good about themselves
Much of what I do comes under the heading of "Data Visualisation". Even my music videos are data visualisations essentially, the data being the audio of the track.
The art of code, when you boil it down, is just about moving numbers around. So all visual coding is about turning those numbers into something that can be displayed and interpreted visually. Whether those numbers are key presses, visitor stats, biometric data or camera input, it's all a form of data visualisation.
The art is in taking the numbers and giving them meaning. This statement applies equally to data visualisation and programming in general.
I always approach a new project as a tech-agnostic. Naming the technology up front can be a trap; it can limit your options. It pays to be wary of any coder who only knows one technology; they'll inevitably be a little blinkered in their outlook. I was that coder 8-10 years ago. I was shite, but I got a lot of work. I'm much, MUCH better now.
It's always healthy to look outside your usual methods and tech. There are tricks that can't be done with that bit of kit you love so much. Tricks that result in your work not looking like everyone else's.
Even with my most personal projects I don't regard myself as the sole author of my work. I use a lot of Open Source tools, so I'm usually standing on the shoulders of some giant or other. But I always have at least two more immediate co-authors. One is the machine I'm working on, or the systems I write, which I like to allow to take over some processes and surprise me with outcomes. A second is the user, who needs to be given space to manipulate what I produce.
The rest might be other professionals; whomever I collaborate with. Designers, engineers, conceptualists, other coders. I like to collaborate, particularly with designers, who I trust to make better aesthetic decisions than I would alone. To my eyes my collaborations are always better than my solo work.
I'm based just outside Brighton. It's nice here. Biking over the South Downs in my lunch-hour is one of the little pleasures that keeps me sane.
Brighton has it's own digital scene, with lots of great digital agencies. If Brighton could keep me busy, I'd never leave. But I do. I do a lot in London, and further afield. I've worked for clients in Soho, Shoreditch, Dalston, Birmingham, Coventry, Newcastle, Tokyo, New York, Perth, Cleveland and Ibiza. Some of those places I've visited. Others I'd like to. This is the 21st Century; so working for someone doesn't always mean using the London train to transfer my meat-self into a certain chair for the day. But I do it when required, because it helps.
Coding on the bar of an Ibiza nightclub is not as glamorous as you might imagine.
If you're nearby, or even if you're not, lets get together and chat. First point of contact, send me an email. Say hi and see where we go from there.