1. I'm collecting examples of studios/ projects where programming is used in cooperation with design. Examples: John Maeda @ Media Laboratory of the MIT, his students, Letterror, Typerware, etc. Is anyone else dealing with the issues that are important/influential for you? If so, why do you admire them?

JC: I don't know anyone that's not in this list. I admire Letterror the most. And also Petr van Blokland's approach to design + program. I like the John Maeda stuff too, though don't always agree with the mark 'done with anyone else's tool than mine'. I look at his work more as experimental and artistic in many cases.

2. How did you start with programming, and what was the main motivation to learn it? Which language did you choose and why?

JC: I chose Python because Just van Rossum advised me. He was right ;) In my last days as student (I started a bit late) I was shocked and impressed with Beowolf. "Wow, it changes the shape in the printer..." *That* was what digital typefaces had to be about. It really used the capabilities of the computer. It offered a different approach. Then when we (Typerware) were invited to join the TypeLab in the Barcelona ATypI conference (1995?), Just and Erik were there. I met them and asked about how Beowolf was done technically, and where I should look to manipulate PostScript. Just gave me some useful information, and I started to play a bit, always in my spare time. After some experiments it seemed very limited and complicated. So I decided to start with more flexible programming. Just told me again to try Python. And here I am, learning Python. Python is also the language used in RoboFog, so the choice was easy. And I have to say that there's no program written by me that is more than 50 lines of code, which doesn't borrow a piece of code from Just, Erik, Petr or someone else. Usually, when I can't find how to do something, I drop a question in a mailing-list and get their answers.

3. In your opinion is it necessary to become a programmer if the concept of the project requires writing a programme? What are your experiences?

JC: It's about getting the best by the knowing the tools better. It is this way for all tools. The problem is that the computer can be any tool. I feel like my skills are still *very* basic, so I can't do big stuff and, just as designers can be limited by the software they use, I'm limited by my programming skills, though small things always help. I use scripts mainly for production, and also make small programs to learn programming. I have a
lot of ideas for doing things as soon as I get the skills to achieve them. I don't have my own big thoughts, I simply agree with other programmers ideas (anyone interested in this issue should read Letterror's book, there you have a lot of answers easily explained). There will always be limitations in the designer's work, but the software you use shouldn't
necessarily be one. You have to find a solution, and then physically make the
solution. The problem is people thinking only about the solution that they know how to do. Programming can be useful also in the process of design. It opens up more possibilities. I'm sure many people would find it stupid to waste time for doing things the way I do, but I find it more boring doing the same thing thirty times.

4. How do you see yourself, more a designer or programmer? As a designer, do you feel some restrictions/limits of software you are using and can you give me some examples? If you are a programmer, how do you collaborate with designers? Does it influence your work in some specific way?

JC: Absolutely designer. I hope some day I will say that I'm a designer that can program. But it looks far yet and that's not necessarily but. It's the way, just follow it while you feel comfortable with what you're doing.

5. Self-made programs seem to bring a 'game' aspect to graphic design life? How did you use programming knowledge in both 'for fun' and commissioned projects? Are your projects published on the internet? If so, where? (URL)

JC: For me is a gift to make a script or mini-program for a project. I have fun, I enjoy... but it's not usual. I've to find the way and the time for doing it. I usually program something that's useful for something. Or something that will be useful in the future for learning. Or just for having fun. An example is a program that I made because a sports program in the radio. They make a riddle each week, giving an anagram of the name of a known person in the sport's world. I wrote a program to combine the letters of the anagram and with some variables introduced I use to get the solution in a few minutes each week. In projects it has been a few, and it was small things yet. But I'm patient, someday...

6. What about the computer aesthetics? Do you attempt to reconcile the contrast between the natural and technological looks of your results? How?

JC: I suppose that when you make something really controlled (a difficult thing if you don't control all the programming process) you can expect a global thing, so the aesthetic is controlled, and it hasn't to be necessarily obvious that you programmed something in the process.

7. Are you attracted to exploit the programming in order to help the computer become more 'human' or 'emotional' (to simulate our 5 senses)? What are your results?

JC: Not really by now. I've enough to learn to exploit the power of the computer. I didn't think about it yet, though we were thinking on doing some stuff where the computer learn. I've a colleague philosopher/programmer and maybe we'll do something on it if we find the time.

8. Can everyone learn how to create a programme? python.org gives the programming language and manuals for free for anyone interested…

JC: Of course. If I can anyone can, seriously. Just don't be afraid in the beginning, and you'll feel the satisfaction of seeing that your intuition makes something work.

9. Will you be developing your programming knowledge in your future practice? Do you have any plans in relation to the 'D + P' issues?

JC: I think that programming is nothing more than controlling the tool that every designer uses. So the future has to be to break the limitations of the tools we use in our everyday work (and not only use it for working processes).
Arf, arf. I think that's enough for now. I feel like missing important things, but maybe we'll talk about it.

Thanks, with pleasure. See you on Nov 27 at the Jan van Eyck Akademie!