Recurse Center

4 Questions with Diana Ilithya

Mai Schwartz

In this series, we sit down with current Recursers to learn about the work they’re doing at the Recurse Center and what they’re most excited about right now! Our first interview is with Diana Ilithya, who’s attending RC virtually from Germany. She’s treating her batch as an artist residency, working on a variety of shaders and creative coding projects.

Diana Ilithya

Diana Ilithya

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I’m a digital artist, a creative developer, and a designer. I’ve been freelancing for about 12 years. I started out in web design and then became a front end developer, so I was always bouncing back and forth between doing web design and front end work for about a decade.

About three years ago, I discovered creative coding and it blew my mind! It changed the whole perspective I had on programming. I had always struggled with my twin interests in design and front end work, but there was no job at that time where I could do both. I always had to pick one and then I would miss the other. When I discovered creative coding, I felt like: Oh, this is where I can apply both things, and also work with the arts, which has always been a hobby of mine.

So I started doing creative development and only taking on front end work that’s related to WebGL, which is more creative even if it’s corporate. That’s where I am at the moment.

Shader with black and white striped snakes on a hot pink background

Snake shader

What brings you to RC at this particular moment in your life?

Since I started to do a lot more visual art and installations last year and really think of myself as an artist, I learned that there are these things called artist residencies where you go and work on something digital art related. I was searching for one all year and I couldn’t find anything that I really liked.

Then I heard about RC from Char Stiles and Sol Sarratea, who also do digital art and work with shaders. They had attended and they said that they really enjoyed their time and that you could work on any project that interests you. So I thought I could go to RC and create my own artist residency there.

Because I’m also a self-taught programmer, when I read about RC, it seemed like the perfect place to do this because I’d not only get to tackle and explore further the art that I want to do, but I could also improve as a developer and do pair programming and meet like-minded people.

That’s why I decided to join RC!

Shader with feathery blue and pink diagonal stripes

Feather shader

What are you excited about right now, programming-wise?

Shaders! When I discovered that a lot of the visuals in concerts are done with shaders, that blew my mind. Music is very important to me; it’s high on the list of things that inspire me. That’s one of the reasons I got into shaders.

The second reason was because I wanted to do more installation work as an artist and shaders are a big way to do that. Thirdly, I can also do shaders with WebGL as a creative developer.

Shader with spinning rainbow helix made of metallic hexagons

Glitch shader

What are you excited about right now, outside of programming?

Probably the most exciting thing is that I’m going back home to Mexico in December. I haven’t been back for three and a half years now because I’m based in Germany. I’m really happy that I’m going to be able to go there and spend three months back home. That’s the most exciting thing I’m looking forward to right now.

You can see more of Ilithya’s work on her website, GitHub, Instagram, and Twitter.

If you’re interested in learning and working alongside programmers like Ilithya, apply to RC!