Editor's note: We asked five members of our creative department to share their thoughts on the relationship between development and interactive design. Tom Gallo, an art director here at Almighty, discusses his experience learning each discipline.
When I first had interest in making things for the Internet I was both utterly curious and completely naive. I didn't see the two disciplines as separate and was equally intimidated and in awe of both. The final product (design + code) was what I cared about most because it was that which told the story. The logical place to begin teaching myself was to take apart my favorite websites. I would start by viewing the source code and tossing it onto my desktop. Then going through the CSS and making image and other asset folders. Finally, I would break it all for fun before doing my best to put it back together. It was both empowering and educational to adapt, transform and reimagine another's work. And it was through that experimentation that I recognized the value in both sides of the process.
I've heard the argument that learning to code can limit a designer's creativity by placing self-imposed restrictions around one's work. There's some truth there, but it's a barrier that can be transcended. Real innovation always seems to begin when you throw the rules away. But, it's having some understanding of those rules that allows you to articulate your vision clearly and produce honest, uncompromised work for people to use and enjoy.
"You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail." — Charlie Parker