About

Background

Hi, I’m Jack. I’ve been a professional Frontend Developer for around 15 years. My favourite aspect of this role is the range of disciplines it borders on. Although it can be very specialised if done correctly, it can also overlap with more creative or technical areas — both of which have their own appeal.

This has led me through a variety of hobbies, from designing component libraries, print/magazine design, to building physical IOT gadgets using Arduinos and Raspberry Pis. My latest focus on pen plotting has managed to find a sweet-spot between these areas and is definitely going to become a long-term hobby.

Outside the world of design and technology, music has also been a large part of my life — both listening to and writing/performing — so will likely feature quite a lot in my plotting work.

Plotting

There are many great tools already available in the plotter community which allow quick and easy design generation. Having to write the code manually is part of the appeal to me, so I’m trying to only use hand-written code.

This means I’m essentially starting from nothing, and am gradually creating a framework of tools, starting by recreating simple patterns and techniques, working towards the kind of designs that I’d consider completely original. I only get a few spare hours a week to work on this, so it’s been quite a slow process so far.

My Frontend Dev day job has me writing a lot of React-based JavaScript, so this is the route I’ve decided to start with for generating my plottable SVGs. I use Storybook as a quick way to visualise my in-progress work as it allows quick tweaking of variables and data in-browser, often leading to unexpected but pleasing results. It’s definitely not a typical plotter’s tech stack, but it's working well for now at least.

Inspiration vs plagiarism

As a definite newbie to the digital art community, I’m concious about not stepping on toes or plagiarising the work of others. The line between inspiration and copying can be very fine and already — on more than one occasion — I’ve created something cool looking, only to realise that it already has a rich history as a technique, or is a style that is very-much attributed to an established designer/plotter.

Wherever I’m aware that I’ve taken an existing idea or technique as inspiration, I’ll do my best to acknowledge the fact. If you spot anything I’ve produced looks like an existing work, please let me know and I’ll add attribution or remove it.

Environmental impact

Pen plotting is not a particularly renewable hobby. I’ve bought a couple of refillable pens, but the time/effort involved to empty, clean, and refill them makes them less than ideal for multi-coloured work. Like many plotters, I can see my disposable pen collection gradually growing, and I can’t quite see past the piles of plastic that I’m going to have to start throwing away over time as the pens empty.

For starters, I’ve decided to donate at least an equivalent amount of the cost of my supplies to the marvellous Ecologi. I’m currently up to 270 trees planted and 18.55 tonnes of CO2e emissions offset with their help.

If you’d like to do the same, this Ecologi referral link will get an additional 60 trees planted when you sign up, or you can always send a one-off donation instead. Send me a message on Twitter if you do and I’ll happily send you a source SVG file for one of my plots as a way of saying thanks.

This site

I strive to build accessible, performant websites which respect user privacy. This site contains no analytics or tracking, and no cookies (including the Vimeo embeds which are set to “do not track”). If you see any areas for improvement, or enjoyed some content and are feeling kind enough to let me know, I’m available — although not particularly publicly active — on Twitter and Instagram.