What Can Software Engineers Learn from Visual Artists?

What Can Software Engineers Learn from Visual Artists

Surprisingly, creativity is one of the most sought-after skills in programming.

The ability to bring a fresh view on the matter, innovate spontaneously, and find unexpected solutions differentiates a regular programmer from a successful one.

All of these things make programmers much like artists.

In this article, we’ll speak about things programmers can learn from visual artists, and you’ll be surprised to see how close these seemingly opposite professions are.

1. Ability to see the big picture

Artists understand how vital every tiny stroke is for the overall success of a project, i.e., a painting. The ability “to see the forest behind the trees” and generalize details into a big picture in imagination is an important skill every programmer can borrow from visual arts and implement in project curating or developing an idea of a new product.

2. Ability to borrow ideas

Every great work of art starts from admiring another work of art, whether natural or human-made. No one blamed Rennaisance for copying the antique styles of ancient Greece. On the opposite – following the tradition and laws of the ancient masters, the artist of the Renaissance brought new life to old goods and made the world richer.

Similarly, a programmer observing a new product can spark an idea of how to make it better, more unique, or usable for a specific category of people. For example, Chinese ridesharing company DiDi, founded several years after Uber, outpaced the model company in Asia and is now the second largest rideshare provider in the world.

3. Dislike of control

You’ll be surprised to learn that teams working on a creative task value freedom over money. Edward Deci, a psychology professor at the University of Rochester, states that incentives or rewards reduce intrinsic motivation, the primary driver of successful creative ideas.

His data shock: any increase in a monetary reward for a task perceived by employees as engaging decreased their motivation by 25%. Moreover, knowing the compensation beforehand decreased motivation by 35%.

If money is not the primary driver of a creative work process, freedom is. According to psychologist Dr. Mike Rugg-Gun, “Control is anathema to the creative process.” Besides, psychology experiments from the University of Exeter prove that workers are more productive if they can reconfigure their own workplaces and thus have the freedom to design their surroundings. No wonder tech companies, such as software development company mlsdev.com, invest in organizing flexible environments for their employees to be creative.

Isn’t that similar to an artist’s workshop?

Legends say that when Leonardo created the “Mona Lisa” on the commission of the Giocondo family, the inspiration drew him away from the original intent, so the family refused to accept the finished painting. As a result, humanity received one of the greatest masterpieces in art history.

Final words

As we see, programmers commissioned with innovative tasks have much in common with artists: they value freedom, borrow ideas, and combine the ability to see details with an ability to see the big picture. Eventually, such an exciting combination of skills made the tech world as we know it today.