Coded Illustrations

By Zach Lieberman

One of the more exciting calls I get as an artist working in the field of new media is for editorial illustration work. It’s rare. I most do generative design as a commercial practice. I don’t have a background in illustration or even a portfolio of this kind of work, so I am always excited when an art director looks at my mostly abstract and gestural animations and inquires about a possible connection. I really enjoy brainstorming and thinking about what images or animation would help bring an article to life.

I am a teacher — at MIT Media Lab, where I help run the Future Sketches group, and at the School for Poetic Computation, and one of the things I teach is a practice of computational sketching. I love to see students engaging with code — seeing computation as a malleable medium they can use for art and design — but one thing I always see students asking is, “how can I use this professionally?” It’s nice to teach young people how to make art and poetry, but also there’s a need to show the practical side. I am always thankful when I can show how you can use this medium to buy bread.

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