When Yann Le Gall (Class of 2010) was a student at Pitt receiving his Masters of Science in Computer Science, he didn’t have an opportunity to take the computer graphic course with the abundance of electives offered by the program. Now, he’s using his expertise in coding to create generative art, or art that has been created by a program, rather than by hand.
Le Gall works as a software engineer at job search firm Indeed, where his team handles authentication, login, and registration. He said he started spending more time creating computer-generated art during the initial COVID-19 lockdowns, where he had more time to pursue his hobbies, including the intersection of programming and visual art.
“It’s been really fun and I think what it does is it allows me to use my coding skills and knowledge in another domain,” he said. “It allows me to do these visual algorithms and do something that’s creative without necessarily completely changing my career.”
Though Le Gall started to post his generative art on his Instagram during the pandemic, his love for art started with more traditional mediums, such as drawing and painting, before transitioning into digital using Photoshop and other digital tools, and then generative art, for which he uses a variety of platforms like Blender and Houdini.
“[Creating generative art is] a learning process, if I see something or I imagine some piece in my head I’m like ‘how would that be made by a computer? Forget about doing it by hand, but if I had to tell a computer to do it, what would be the instructions?’ That’s a fun challenge and a fun way to approach art,” he said.
In addition to posting his art online and sometimes taking commissions, Le Gall has ventured into one of the hottest topics in tech — cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs.) He explained that NFTs are a way to prove ownership of digital art and said he wanted to try minting his own.
“The NFT thing is still relatively new. It hasn’t been around that long. For me it was just like, I don’t want to be left out. I see this new thing going on that everyone’s crazy about, let me try it,” he said.
For those interested in creating their own generative art, Le Gall suggests they start the same way he did: by looking up Youtube tutorials. In particular, he suggests The Coding Train, run by New York University professor Daniel Shiffman, as the place to go for beginners. Le Gall said he knew many fellow students who became interested in programming because of their interest in video gaming, which was also one of the factors that propelled him to explore creative coding.
“It’s not just video games but, even if you want to do VFX for movies or product renders for commercials, there’s software there that’s doing those things. It’s a really intricate space, I probably only know a small part of it. It’s been really fun to start with these basic programs that let you do these creative coding frameworks.”