Brendan Dawes
Analogue + Digital

You Are Not a Tool

When I first got a job in the world of design — as a web designer with northern web design company Subnet — my main role was doing things with a new thing called JavaScript. I got into JavaScript back then because I taught myself to code, first with BASIC and then with Pascal. Later, I would discover a thing called Flash which, coupled with my coding knowledge such as it was, allowed me to marry code and visuals to make the things I wanted to make. I never thought of myself as a "Flash Designer". Flash — like other software — was just a tool, one that I used a lot back then, but a tool just the same.

There were however many who did use the term Flash Designer, and it always puzzled me. You're not making Flash. You're making a thing that so happens to use Flash. You're a designer first. Why let the tool define you?

To this day I still don't define myself by the tool or tools I use. I've used Processing a lot in my work, yet I also use command line scripts, the occasional Python script, Nodejs, Touch Designer, PHP, Objective-C and many other things. To me, that combination of many things — of not being tied to one particular tool — is where the power often lies. Most recently my work for Trend Micro is a piece I've done in the wonderful Houdini. Yet I also made use of code I wrote in Processing as part of the tool chain so I could realise this thing in my head.

I've always said do things you don't know how to do. The exciting part is learning new things in the hope it can combine with the things you do know to take your work to new places.

Now, what's this thing called Notch...