Seb Lee-Delisle

Seb Lee-Delisle is a digital artist and speaker who uses computers to engage, inspire and excite.

As an artist, he likes to make interesting things from code that encourage interaction and playfulness from the public. Notable projects include Lunar Trails, featuring a 3m wide drawing machine, and PixelPyros, the Arts Council funded digital fireworks display touring nationwide in Autumn 2013.

As a speaker he demystifies programming and explores its artistic possibilities. His presentations and workshops enable artists to overcome their fear of code and encourage programmers of all backgrounds to be more creative and imaginative.

He won 3 Microsoft Critter awards in 2013, including Web Personality of the Year and Voice of the Year (best presenter) and he was Technical Director on Big and Small, the BBC project that won a BAFTA in 2009. Notable clients include BBC, Lego, Sony, Microsoft, Google, MLB, Nickelodeon, Philips, and Unilever.

Seb has a Twitter account, too. Follow him @seb_ly.

Published Thoughts

Finish your projects

I gave a talk last night in London and one of the panel questions was “What advice would you give someone starting out?”, and the answer was three simple words: finish your projects.

Pretty obvious, and hardly seems worth saying, except that most people I know have embarked on ambitious personal projects, and many never quite make it to the end.

I have great sympathy for anyone struggling through a side project, I know what it’s like to get half way through only to find that it’s just not fun any more. The excitement of a new challenge has morphed into the mundane, and now it’s just like work.  

And then it gets even harder — that last 10% of a project is an absolute killer. In reality you’re only half way through — so the last 10% is actually the last 50% (and people tell me I’m good at maths?). At this point you probably hate your project.

So my advice? Keep your projects buildable.

Estimate how long it will take to complete, from start to finish. Now remember that you have a day job and you only have the evenings and weekends available. And also remember that most nights you’re pretty tired, and on the weekend you’re going to see your mum.

But most of all, remember that actually your initial estimate was wrong and it’ll most likely take twice that to finish your project.

This seems like a problem — but it’s not. There are many smaller projects for you to work on, enjoy and most of all finish. My projects often turn into huge undertakings, but they all started from small personal projects. Take Lunar Trails for example — it started as a simple recreation of Lunar Lander that I put on the internet for people to play — a week long project that was finished and released.

And my digital fireworks project PixelPyros began life as a 2 week prototype project hacked together in my spare time (before it turned into a huge laser powered monster of a tour).

Some people like tinkering so as long as they’re having fun, who am I to judge? But for me, releasing a project into the wild is the best part. And if I’ve spent time on a project and not finished it, well that’s just wasted time.

Most people don’t finish their projects so simply by getting it done, you’re way ahead of the crowd. 

So, keep it simple, push through the middle and end stages, and then release it. That’s when it comes alive. And as you watch it blossom and flourish in the real world, you can maybe start considering that next project (and this time, add lasers).