I spent some amount of time taking art seriously. I do not claim to have accomplished anything in that time, but at least I was invested in its dynamic, nebulous methods and values.
Art might be a series of images on a wall, or it might be a dynamic sculpture that responds to your presence. In the end, one makes art to make an impression on their audience. Artists create something and present it, and it should speak for itself. It’s a tricky problem, and many things can be learned in the persuit.
So, now I write software. Did anything interesting transfer?
At least in a visual industry like the web, aesthetics will of course come into play. Composition, color and mood are the same whether on a screen or on a canvas. Some aesthetic choices have obvious effects on the viewer, and some are more subtle. After some experience making aesthetic choices, the subtler effects become more obvious.
Playing with visual composition shows how a viewer’s attention can be manipulated. Good composition guides the viewer’s eye through interesting aspects of your work, while bad composition leads the eye off of the page altogether.
This can lead to some good ideas in managing source code. Lining up variables allows the eye to scan them for differences more easily. An extra blank line can delineate groups of related items. A comfortable line width keeps the attention in the center of the page, where most of the good stuff happens. The effect of these decisions may be small, but they are tangible. They are the building blocks of readable code.