Last year I heard an executive from a video game talking about hiring developers. One of the things he said (roughly paraphrased) is that they find a lot of good graphic artists and a lot of good software developers but it is rare to find someone who is great at both. Game companies don’t expect software people to create the outstanding graphics that today’s gamers expect. They hire artists for that. But there is something to be said for software people to know something about art.
Daniel Rasmus, Director of Business Insights at Microsoft – basically a futurist, said recently in a blog post titled The ART of Software that “If you want to code for the web, design for the web, or do any software work that touches people, then take an art class first.” To me it is pretty obvious that customer facing software has to look better and be better designed for appearance than ever before. Not all of us are artists though. I’m sure not. That is why some of us need help now and again. But some basic understanding of art can still go a long way.
But art doesn’t always lend itself to data driven analysis. Dan’s post also links to an article (Google's top designer quits, blames engineers) about a designer leaving Google because of an insistence on pure data driven selection of designs. While I would argue that some data analysis is helpful – I am an engineer by nature after all – I can understand that some things just do not lend themselves to that sort of analysis. Someone with an eye for how things work and and instinct for how people see things can do a lot with a lot less data. In other words, I think sometimes the best thing is to trust an artist.
Yet an other reason that we all need to support art education in schools I think.
BTW I only recently discovered Dan’s Future of Work blog but I really like it. I recommend it to you for a regular read.