What are you doing in your creative work at the moment?
I’m currently working as a freelance web developer. Everyday, I use creative skills to build elegant websites and interfaces for customers. In the applications I create, I value speed, intuition and simplicity in order to give the user the best experience possible.
What are the highlights of your arts career to date?
A highlight for me would definitely be completing my Gold Arts Award, and also developing small scale websites for a range of clients. It’s allowed me to continue building the web development skills which are really crucial for my career.
Earlier this year, I also developed and launched a fully functioning iOS app. I think the premis is based around creative problem solving which is something I think all artists, regardless of medium, use regularly. Here in New Zealand I was getting frustrated at the amount of sandflies around, particularly in the summer. I recognised the problem and designed, coded and laucnhed the Sandfly Map app to reach a solution.
What do you hope to be doing in five years’ time?
My ambition is to be running my own software development company. I would really look to be focussing on high availability and elegant software solutions for interesting clients.
Which levels of Arts Award did you do, and how did it help to develop your creativity or skills?
I completed the Gold Arts Award. As my main project for Part One, I re-designed a website I had previously built. I found this particularly challenging because it’s not easy rebuilding something after you’ve spend so much time on a project. The ability to quickly recognise flaws in both the design and code was a skill I certainly learnt from the Arts Award. Whilst I use this in my job as a web developer, I also think this is a transferable skill to other areas of a professional career which may not be software based.
Similarly, I was able to develop an ability to step back and consider what effects the changes I was making would have. I think this is a really important skill to have, as it allows you to focus on what’s important when developing a product and therefore identify your aims and what you’re trying to achieve at the end of the project.
Having to establish the end goal for my project early on helped me to concentrate on particular areas. I’ve carried this skill forwards into other jobs and it’s helped me focus more efficiently at the task at hand.
What advice would you give to young people who want to follow a similar career path?
Spending time with people who already do that particular job is crucial. If you want to be a designer, find work experience in a design studio. If you want to be a dancer, go to the local dance school. If you want to be an illustrator, get in touch with a like-minded artist. I think most individuals and companies will be very supportive and encourage you to learn.
It’s key to not just let other people tell you what to learn and do that. I don’t think that’s enough. Be active - hunt out your own passions. Develop your own style and learn how to apply it to your work. Voila, you’ve built a brand. Spend lots of time reading, but don’t forget to apply what you’ve learnt to side projects - those are how you best build your skills.