Inspiring Figures is a monthly blog column where I share with you people who are catalysts in inspiring and motivating me. They are people you should really know about. Last month featured Natalie Franke, founder of the Rising Tide Society. You can read her feature here.
Just like always, this month’s feature first took place live on Instagram – thank you to everyone that joined in!
This month features, David da Silva.
I am really excited about this feature! As I said on my IG live, this is the first time I did an IG live with a close friend. It felt very natural, sort of just like catching up on Facetime except with 50 or so people listening in. 😆
I first met David through Twitter actually, he had responded to one of my tweets and from there, we eventually met up in person in London (when I went to the Gymshark pop-up actually!) Isn’t it crazy how we connect with the best people through the internet sometimes? Ever since then, we’ve been quite close and so, having him feature for this October’s edition of Inspiring Figures was really fun!
David is currently in the final year of his undergraduate degree in Computer Science, recently starting on his final project. He also works remotely as a part-time Product Designer for Sensa and has a number of passion projects on the side such as Art + Code.
Getting into Programming
At a young age, David enjoyed playing video games with his cousin but just like most of us who grew up loving video games (I know I can totally relate to this!), his parents restricted his gaming time. So once David stopped playing, he started creating paperboard games that reflected on the games he had played, complete with paper controllers. Examples include Sonic Drift and Kirby Super Star.
One day, he had seen his father who was a graphic designer create an animation on the computer. It was a simple animation of a ball going into a basket; intrigued David started learning how to use Macromedia Flash (now Adobe Flash) and tried making games with it, which would slowly get better, as he learned more. From this, he began his programming journey where he started learning bits and slowly went on to teach himself things like what specific functions do etc.
Presently, his interest in Product Design sparked from being able to think of awesome ideas, reading articles on Product Design, and wanting to understand what users feel about certain products. Product Design involves user research, prototyping, wireframing, UI mockups, validating ideas and value to others and making the necessary changes before a product launch. It is a mix of creativity, knowing patterns and a little bit of psychology. Usually, Product Designers do not need to be technical (there are tools for prototyping) but it is a plus as prototypes can easily be coded without the need of a developer.
In the past, David has worked on a mobile game which users who downloaded it loved (resulting in 80,000 downloads!) Creating something that made a huge impact on users was incredible, users had feedback such as:
- Sleep better because of the soothing nature of the game
- A blind girl was able to play the game (which surprised David as it was accessible!)
I have my own personal experience with David’s games that have enabled me to calm down during a panic – it’s amazing what you can do with a few lines of code. I
In September 2017, David started Project: Art+Code.
He had always wanted to explore this but felt that there was a barrier because he had no idea where to start. However, on Twitter, Stephanie Hurlburt wrote a thread reminding folks to ask for pointers to help others with their own projects. Inspired by this thread, David reached out to someone who had worked on
Something people don’t realize:— Stephanie Hurlburt (@sehurlburt) July 23, 2017
Most people, even some with a lot of followers, barely get any messages. And they *love* to help you.
Opened my DMs. Ask me details about Processing, I help develop it. Also interactive installations, math & algos for graphics, Java, Android.— Jakub Valtar (@jakubvaltar) July 23, 2017
This project definitely shows that you can be creative with code!
David has now passed his own knowledge on and created a
“A key thing about learning – programming in this example – is to learn it through doing something that you want to see happen.”
complex is made of simple. there’s lots of possibilities by combining simple transformations, and by altering their order.— David da Silva (@dasilvacontin) October 16, 2018
There are plenty of amazing tutorials online and a whole community of expertise! Go out and explore.
David also advised leaners to break down learning to the basics – step by step!
For those that aren’t familiar with hackathons, they are 24-hour “coding marathons” where participants team up to build something using technology or hardware available to them (usually from sponsors etc) You can read about my own experience with hackathons here – including the time I
When I asked David which hackathon was his favourite to attend, he shared the story of his first trip to the US where he attended PennApps. Flying from Paris (and nearly not attending because of lack of money but luckily he had a friend that lent him some for the trip), he stepped into a huge hackathon with around 1,400 people in attendance. David described the hackathon to being very different to other EU hackathons he had been to in the past.
Upon attending, he spoke to a range of different people from different backgrounds and quickly made friends. This is such a huge barrier for new hackathon attendees as most are worried that they won’t know anyone – but it is so quick to make friends as David demonstrated!
PennApps was his
Once the hackathon was over, David and his team went to his dream trip to Silicon Valley where he met with companies to see if they could sponsor a hackathon that they were planning on later in the year, as well as experiencing the life in the Valley!
David and his team went on to organise HackUPC, a hackathon in Barcelona which has been going on since 2015 where David has been a lead designer for 3 editions.
Outside of Tech: Longboarding
In addition to his love for programming, David also loves to learn how to skateboard. One time David and I were going to meet in Sheffield, at
Recently, he’s enjoyed learning how to drift! Watch him below:
Catch up on the live conversation
You can catch-up with our conversation on YouTube below! A huge thank you again as usual to Clark Narvas for putting these together.