The path of my career has often elicited surprise from people: the fact that I went from working as a software programmer for several years, before striking out to pursue art full time. And contrary to what some might suppose, I don't dislike programming. In truth, I enjoy the challenges of working with computer languages and designing program structures quite a bit. Not as much as I love (and need) to create art, mind you, but it's a part of me as well.
Recently, while reading an article about author (and Physics PhD) Catherine Asaro, I came across the theory of "conceptual blending", which illuminates how elements from very different spheres can be combined in the human mind, often in reference to sciences and arts, in creative thinking.
And it got me thinking about how these two seemingly disparate elements of my mind are combined, because I don't feel at odds with them. In fact, I feel like the programmer, and the visual artist versions of me are very similar, and function in much the same way (not to mention many other facets of my personality and habits).
My art is known for being very detail-oriented. Many elements that a viewer can come to and see for the first time with each successive impression of a piece. I spend a lot of time working out the flow of these individual elements, and in how they can merge together to make a cohesive whole. In a way, when I brainstorm and figure out compositions, it is the same part of my brain that designs programs and the architectural structure of code. They are both a form of problem solving, followed by close attention to detail and smaller components.
Artwork has a logic to it. From the mechanical nature of application of paint, and the determination of how exactly and in what order to layer colors to achieve desired effect, to the observation of life references that is required for knowledge of how to represent and depict something. Process is a meticulous thing. More intense in some mediums than others (intaglio printmaking, which I did over a decade ago, for example, is notorious as a very process-heavy technique), but present for all mediums.
And on the other hand, software has a very creative aspect to it as well. Yes, there are algorithms, and well known structures for various optimal implementations, but how you choose to pull all those disparate elements together into a program can be the difference in a clunky hack piece of code, or a wonder of flowing design.
I'm a detail and logic person, as well as being very focused on overall structural design. These elements are evident in my approach to programming, in my art, in my dancing, and even in the way I deal with scheduling and deadlines. It's all wound up together in a multidisciplinary knot, and it all comes from the same place.
How do your underlying traits dictate your creativity?