The art of pure CSS | BCS – BCS

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Personally, discovering that browser capability early on in my coding career was a game-changing moment. The browser inspector is, to me, the closest thing we have to making abstract code feel real and tangible. Being able to click a chunk of code and immediately see how it’s visually translated is kind of magical, even after all the many years I’ve been using it.

I’m old enough to have lived through the early days of web styling when it was limited only to flat colours and borders, so when I returned to CSS as an adult and saw the huge amount of styling options that were added to CSS, it felt like the sky was truly the limit. It only felt natural that it should be used as an artistic medium.

In the past, you’ve felt uncomfortable with being labelled as a ‘tech’ professional, as what you create doesn’t necessarily use textbook computer science. How does using CSS help you to feel like a ‘master of tech’?

I have almost assuredly become good at the combination of Javascript and UI that is my day job and yet the work that others do with different technologies like backend architecture and ML/AI distracts me, amazes me and makes me feel small in comparison.

I’m obsessed with classical art. I’m especially obsessed with artists from the 1400s, whose work seems to have reached the pinnacle of human ability; people whose work will forever be amazing enough to be public attractions in museums even hundreds of years after their death. I get profoundly depressed thinking about how their work inspired and continues to inspire those like me, whose only contributions to society are making the website buttons go clickety-clack.

I know the reason people have noticed my stuff at all is because it’s better than just ‘good’. I know that I have inspired people. I know that my higher-than-average patience with CSS is probably enough to land me in at least one definition of ‘mastery’.

View an example of Diana Smith’s CSS artwork

While smith’s full portfolio can be found on her website, here is one of the finest examples:

Titled ‘Francine’, this Rococo rendition of the character from TV show American Dad, in 18th century fashion. Be sure to right click and ‘inspect’ to view the code and CSS style sheets which underpin the image presented in the browser.

Another aspect of Smith’s art that makes it unique is the fact that it will display differently, depending on the web browser used. As the image has been optimised for viewing in Chrome, it can look almost like abstract art or even digital cubism in older browsers. 

Tell us about the so-called ‘CSS police’/coding purists. Does their traditionalist school of thought hinder rather than help in the industry?

Traditionalist thinking can easily lead to obsolescence. I cannot imagine the temerity of assuming you know the best way of doing everything; that sounds so boring and miserable.

It’s a common misconception that working in tech and especially with code, isn’t creative. Do you think there’s a place for creativity over rules when it comes to web design?

This industry needs every bit of help from people with different perspectives. I’ve learned so much from working with people who have wildly …….


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