Programming for Artists

PLEASE NOTE! These pages work best on Chrome. The code examples might not be visible on other browsers.

Aalto University – School of Arts, Design and Architecture
Department of Media
Aalto Media Lab


Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

What this course is about?

  • Beginner-friendly course for learning how to use code as a creative medium.
  • Learning how programming works on a basic level.
  • Understanding that you can do a lot with just a little bit of knowledge, lots of trial and error, and a bucketful of patience.
  • Thinking about the possibilities and limitations of programming as a form of art.
  • Learning how to find information and help.
  • Understanding that there are existing libraries that allow you as an artist or designer to focus on the creative side of coding without having to build everything from scratch.
  • You will be working on your own project where you implement the things we learn during the course. The project can be an interactive installation, generative artwork, simple game, data visualization etc. Pretty much anything goes as long as it implements programming in a creative fashion.

What this course is not about?

  • This is not a computer science course. We will be writing code, but on a level that is not so terribly concerned what is the most efficient way. If it works for the desired outcome, it works.
  • You will not become a software developer just by sitting through this three-week course. Learning programming is a new way of thinking and a new language. It requires long-term practice.
  • Also do not expect to get all the information you need during the lectures. You have to spend time outside the classroom to really understand how things work. You will not learn how to write code by just passively listening.
  • We use a specific programming language (Processing), but it is not really about mastering that specific language. More important is to learn the logic of programming and give you the confidence to add it to your set of tools.
  • It is not about browsing Facebook while I try to explain how a for loop works. If you are bored, please use your time going through more advanced topics or example code.  A teacher’s secret: You would be surprised how accurately I can tell what you are doing on your computer just from the look on your face.


3–5 ECTS = 80–134 hours

  • Lectures: 24 hours
  • Tutored assignments: 12h
  • Time for reflection and self study: 36 hours
  • 8–62 hours of independent work. (The student keeps track of the time they use on the final project and the assignments.)

Suggested Reading & Resources