Find out about Arnaud's career path: artist, freelance developer and instructor at Wild Code School

Published on 10 February 2021

Reading time 3 minutes

Freelance developer, web developer instructor and artist

Hello Arnaud, could you start by telling us what you do for a living?

I'm a freelance web developer; I currently work at Wild Code School, where I supervise, with other instructors, Web and mobile development courses on a work-study basis. I am also an artist, a student at the École des beaux-arts de Paris, which I joined this year.

What has been your journey so far?

I graduated from an engineering school, University of technology Compiègne. When I left school, I didn't immediately work as a developer: I started out in my first positions managing development projects, then producing statistical analyses. I then moved to web application development to get in direct contact with the product manufacturing - that I was missing at the time. I started as a freelance developer in 2016, alongside the drama courses I was taking at the Paris Conservatory. This theatrical practice (acting, directing, and writing) gradually turned into a practice of artistic experimentation.

Linking art and web development is possible!

Could you shed some light on your artistic practice?

Usually, I collect data, manually or programmatically, and format it in a more or less transformed way.
For example, I used Markovify (Python) package to automatically generate a fake yoga lesson from authentic lesson texts available on the web.
In another project, I wrote scripts that automatically harvest images, movie replicas, song lyrics from selected sources, and randomly paste them together. I then manually selected the portions that I deemed most meaningful to make the printing plates for a magazine-style publication.
I also produced an installation that consists of a fresco of animated gifs projected on a screen, built in real time by spectators via an ad-hoc web application that allows them to search for gifs by keywords. I also use the web as an artistic medium: I created a fake online store, The People’s Store.

Does coding influence your work or is it just one of the many tools that you are using?

Sometimes I have a pre-determined vision that just needs to be realized by programming it. Other times, I don't really know what I want to achieve but I move forward progressively by programming scripts that give me results, and make me go in one direction or another. It's similar to the agile development of a product: if you don't have an exhaustive vision in mind, you forge ahead in one direction, and the work of each iteration depends on what you've observed from the previous one.

According to you, what is the difference between a functional website and an artist website?

For a ceramist, it is the same as the difference between a vase and a sculpture: on the one hand there is a functional object, and on the other hand an object with an aesthetic or symbolic meaning.

Any advice to our Wilders in light of what was said earlier?

I'm a poor designer myself, but I've noticed that a talented designer is actually a hard worker who remains focused and motivated in the face of every difficulty he encounters in finding the right representational techniques. And I know that the same is true for the developer: a successful developer is above all someone who is able to stay focused in the face of constant difficulties. Software development is a craft based on trials and the techniques that come out of those trials.
I also have a piece of advice for those who want to build up a portfolio of projects: make a myriad of small, well-finished projects rather than wanting to start with a humongous project. If you can manage to complete small projects, it will seem natural and realistic to tackle larger projects.

Find out more about Arnaud's artistic work on his website.

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