Andrew Jensen

Pen plotter art

Hi there! I'm Andrew. I'm a software engineer and creative technologist. I make code that makes art.

Photo of Andrew Jensen

Let me explain...

Generative art

This is a unique artistic process where the artist creates code, and then the code creates art. The artist's code is made up of algorithms and systems to draw lines and shapes, and the logic incorporates randomness so that the same program produces new results every time it is executed. In a way, the artist "collaborates" with the computer.

Pen plotter

This is a machine that follows instructions to draw with a pen. It uses similar technology to a CNC machine, laser cutter, or 3D printer. Pen plotters have been around for a long time - they go back to the 1950s! Even though they've been replaced by printers for most uses, pen plotters continue to be a unique way to draw, since their output is a combination of machine precision and the imperfection of pen and paper. There's a thriving online community of pen plotter artists around the world.



Is this the same kind of thing as Midjourney?

This style of art is a different branch of generative art from AI-generated art, although there are some similarities.

In AI-generated art, the "input" is a typed out prompt, as well as a huge number of images across the internet that a neural network has analyzed. The neural network takes in these inputs and calculates what the output image should be based on statistical probabilities.

In the style of art that I create, the "input" is computer code that I write and execute. It can be referred to as "procedural art" because it relies on "procedures" or functions defined in the code to determine the output image. There are no other images being fed into an algorithm as inputs.

But there are still some interesting similarities! For example, both styles rely on randomness to produce interesting variations. And my work is still influenced by other abstract artists that might also be used as training data for AI art systems.

Tell me nerdy details about the process!

With pleasure! The flow goes like this:

  1. I write code in TypeScript, using the paper.js framework
  2. The framework exports the design as an SVG file
  3. I send that file to an AxiDraw pen plotter, using the axicli command line tool

Do you collaborate or do commissions?

Absolutely! I'm always interested in doing new creative things with code, electronics, and machines. I've done collaborations with musicians, composers, comic book artists, and even quilters. To get in touch, you can DM me on Instagram or email me.