Tech+Art Podcast: Vera van de Seyp


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Welcome to the new Tech+Art Podcast!

Join us on this adventure as we meet & speak with: artists, makers, researchers, designers and creators from all background and fields.

Our objective is to understand their creative perspective, dive into their workflow & creative process, be inspired by new ideas and their work – and stay one step ahead of cutting-edge industry developments.

"Once you have this idea, it’s important to balance it between something that is experimental and something that’s maybe too simple. And somewhere in the middle is always good to maybe end up."


In this episode, we’re chatting with Vera Van de Seyp, a designer and creative coder currently based in Amsterdam.
Through her work and projects, Vera explores how new technologies and digital tools are able to push media forward. 
She joins us to share insights from her work, her process for building rule based, creative systems and much more.

Question 1: When did you become aware of design and creative coding?

[ 4:00 ] – Already in the first year, when I was studying there, a lot of the design that I did was really system-based or really rule-based, but I did everything by hand. So if there would be a set of rules I would spend hours filling the rules and actually making something out of it. And I think at some point I followed a Processing course, like an elective, and I think the first class for me where it really clicked […] I was just looking at the examples and I felt like ‘ok this is really it. If I learn this, I will actually be able to do the same type of rule-based design, but spend much less time on it and making it much more concise.

Question 2: What kind of work do you do today (for clients, for yourself) and what really goes into it?

[ 5:43 ] – It really depends on the project. So I always try to find the tool that really fits the purpose or the destination of the project. So I think I still use Processing quite a lot – also because I’m teaching now so I think it’s a really great tool to get into programing at a low level. I also use a lot of web languages […] But then also, for instance, recently I’ve gotten more interested in programming with Python because a lot of machine learning applications are written in that, so it really depends on the project.

[ 6:36 ] – Each of the projects, or most of the projects that I do, even if they are for clients, they’re really based on having a certain set of rules or a certain logic and that forms the entire visual outcome. That really is something that I’m busy with or really invested in all the time. And for me the challenge is also really finding a system that really fits with the project or the client and the goal that it has.

Question 3: Can you share a few examples of the types of projects that you’ve done?

[ 7:07 ] – So I do really mix work for clients and more individual work or work that I initiated myself. And yeah, the outcome can be a lot of things. It can be a physical installation , it can be a poster, it can be a website, it can be a movie, it can be even a tool that I program and then let a client use to make their own content.

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Question 4: You mentioned the identity of a project - so the style, the feeling, the design - making sure that it’s clear that it’s based off code or a system of rules. How do you approach that as part of your process? How does your exploration of these new technologies, these new ideas - how does that lead you to design that style or communicate those new ideas?

[ 13:17 ] – So most of the style really comes from my design background. So I really learned some things that work well: how composition work, how to use type. And I think that really fuels into the code through these rules that I make in my head. So I think this is really something that fits with me in the end. That I really like to approach these things in a very pragmatic, very clear way. So I think the visual side really – or at least originally intended idea – really comes from an idea in my mind that’s visual […] but then of course I think also each tool has its own visual restrictions. So this is also why I use different tools for a different project. […] That of course also really influences the outcome in the end. But I really try to from the beginning of the process, I try to approach the design from both perspectives.

Question 5: The second topic I wanted, which is more around the concept of a rule based system - as you’ve mentioned several times already. How do you explain this concept to students and clients that you’re working with? And then how do you put it into practice when it actually comes down to designing a solution for a problem or objectives that one of these clients might have? How do you balance creating a rule with the more creative side of being more creative?

[ 15:41 ] – I really try to see with each project what it would need to tell a certain story or to reflect a certain idea. So that in the beginning especially follows some conceptual rules.

[16:35 ] – Once you have this idea, it’s important to balance it between something that is experimental and something that’s maybe too simple. And somewhere in the middle is always good to maybe end up.

Question 6: What’s some advice that you would share with someone else based on your own experience?

[ 22:01 ] – […] if you’re good at programming, it doesn’t mean that you know the answer to everything, it means you’re good at problem solving.

[ 22:11 ] – The second thing is find people that you like that are doing it at the same time so that you can share and make your own small community to support each other.