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From megabits to art from megahits, Ottawa coder turns to art

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Six years ago, Darcy Whyte was earning a living developing software before he decided to take a step back to focus on some of his side projects.

“I didn’t really, at any point, do this with the intention of turning it into a career. I didn’t decide to do it, I just sort of organically started to move towards it,” admits the self-proclaimed Inventor Artist.

“I started calling myself an artist about two or three years ago but I’ve really been engaging in this space for about six years full-time.”

The first big project Whyte developed was the Squirrel -- a wind-up, rubber band airplane that is popular with aviation enthusiasts, teachers and Cub Scouts all over the world.

When he decided to automate the manufacturing of the Squirrel, Whyte needed to involve robotics so, naturally, he Googled “Ottawa robotics” and found a few groups of enthusiasts that he claims are a key component to his creativity.

“Because those groups seemed to have some sort of proximity to the art community, I just sort of drifted in that direction,” he says.

Now, Whyte makes all sorts of cool products -- clocks and jewellery made out of old vinyl records and CDS, a DIY electric motor kit he calls the Dinky Motor, and a host of other products he says are in the “incubation, exploration, experimental stage.”

For all of his projects, Whyte still relies on his background in software development to keep things moving forward.

“Surprisingly, I don’t believe there’s much difference between the production of software and art -- from the creative side to the problem solving and from the execution/deployment side, I find that it’s all pretty much the same,” he says, adding his projects intentionally are not patented.

He believes one of the reasons the Squirrel is so successful is because he shared it and says being part of a community of like-minded people who can all share and explore ideas is an important part of his creative process.

“Everybody talks and shares their projects. We all just help each other. When you come home from that stuff, you have way more ideas than you have time,” he says.

“It’s like a garden -- you just see which things move forward and which don’t and you put energy into things you feel are moving in a good direction.”

To see more of Whyte's art, visit inventorartist.com.

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