In the blender community some artists do code (plug-ins/ .py), but those that don't do make shader nodes that *are* impressive algorithms - visually coded. And the parameter space of the interface alone is vast. I now find it snobby/lazy to slate this approach as less open-ended.
have you ever worked in Houdini? Even without using VEX, just by adding nodes and clicking around the interface one can get results which are pure amazeballs