Art meets tech – Enabling change with DVT

Tuesday, 12 December 2023 14:38
Art meets tech – Enabling change with DVT

Daniel Botha is a Senior Frontend Developer at DVT. He’s also a visual artist. While technology and art don’t typically go hand-in-hand, Daniel has found a niche where he can enjoy both of his passions. As the cherry on top, he is also changing lives by doing what he loves (educating others), which is all anyone can ask for, really.

Recently, Daniel was invited to host one of DVT’s BrightSparx talks and spoke about ‘The White Horse, an Open Source Example’, which featured his Art Engine called HashLips. These talks are open to DVT employees and are a great way to share innovations and knowledge while also espousing those within the organisation who are doing exciting things. Daniel says, “The fact that DVT not only lets me do this, but actively encourages me and supports me, is just very cool. Not every employer would do that. So, I’m grateful for that.”

Not only is Daniel the creator of the Hashlips Art Engine, an NFT art generator (HashLips Art Engine), but he also hosts a YouTube channel where he teaches coding and encourages an open source-style of debate, discussion, and collaboration among his followers. It’s a full-circle way of living that allows him to feel fulfilled, enjoy his passions, and help others.

At the start of his career, Daniel was a full-time artist and 3D animator. He moved to China for three months with five other artists from all over Africa and travelled, learned, and represented his continent and his art. It was a formative period filled with new experiences and exposure to a culture that reveres art and artists. The effect this time had on Daniel’s outlook, and the way he thinks about things, is significant.

Upon his return, Daniel realised that the life of an artists was not sustainable by itself, and he found his way into programming and coding thanks to a natural aptitude, the ability to learn quickly, and his varied experiences. He found himself creating educational apps for children and discovered another passion – teaching others. At the same time, Daniel discovered NFTs. These gave artists a way to make a living and gave Daniel a way to blend technology and art in a new and stimulating way.

Open source is a wonderful tool as it grants free access to anyone looking for code, programmes, or help. You can use whatever you find in open source, with no payment or obligation. Anyone who can offer a better way of doing something, an improvement, or even just a new and different solution, is welcome to add to the discussion. The opportunity for collaboration is unmatched and is the basis for some truly inspirational solutions and inspired pieces of code. It’s about teamwork, and this is what inspires Daniel. He does caution users to do their own research and find a good, solid community to join, but once the undesirable elements have been weeded out, it is a platform that has much to offer.

For those looking to learn how to code, Daniel shares free lessons on his YouTube channel. He is open to discussion and wants this to be a space where people can learn the basics, refine their ideas, and collaborate. Much like open source, his channel provides a base for a community to form. His content challenges you to think differently, be innovative, and learn a new skill. He says, “I don’t think everyone needs to know how to code or programme, but I do think we are reaching a point where everyone does need to understand the basics, like how to programme Excel or use AI prompts to code, for example. What I’m doing is giving people a taste of how coding can enrich your life and impart different skills. It’s like electricity – you don’t need to understand it to be able to know how to use it.” He adds, “There’s a sort of creativity in coding, and a unique experience that allows for learning and creating and thinking outside of the box – which is often where you find innovation.”

Daniel says, “All of these things are about enriching people’s lives, their skills, their professions. They’re about supporting someone’s endeavours, allowing them the freedom to express themselves, giving them a way to explore their creativity and, with all of this, maybe even earn a living doing what they love. For me, it’s important to share your own learning journey in order to teach others. And that’s what I’m trying to do, help others first.”

You may not be able to change the world for everyone, but teaching everyone how to change the world for themselves is a gift, and it is one that Daniel gives freely.