You can make art out of practically anything, but sometimes the source of some masterpieces can surpise even the most creative individuals. One man, Tatsuo Horiuchi, began creating art from what could be the most unlikely medium – Microsoft Excel.
The 80-year-old Japanese native has been making breathtaking works of art in Excel spreadsheets for the past twenty years. It started as a challenge, but he now makes a living off his work. What would Pablo Picasso or Vincent van Gogh think?
A Post-Retirement Challenge
Twenty years ago, Horiuchi retired from his job in the office supplies and medical equipment industries. He knew that he needed a new hobby to occupy his spare time, so he turned to visual art. However, he soon found that he wasn’t skilled at drawing or painting. He also didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on art supplies now that he was retired and lived on a strict budget. Instead, he decided to use his personal computer to make digital drawings using Microsoft Excel.
“It [Excel] has more functions and is easier to use,” Horiuchi explained, stating he prefers Excel over the Microsoft Paint software. He also experimented with Microsoft Word, but he found it too restrictive with the type of artwork he wanted to create, as well as the paper sizing. He commented, “I saw other people making pretty graphs and thought, “I could probably draw with that.”
A Lengthy Art Process
Horiuchi has perfected his craft over the past 20 years, but it wasn’t always easy. He had to figure out how to make designs and intricate details with Excel’s numbers, formulas, and graphs. For the first three years, he practiced by making drawings. He started with vegetables, including carrots and Japanese radish, and wild grass. He commented, “I drew everything I could see.”
Then, after he mastered the art of drawing, he moved on to making paintings. Horiuchi said, “During the next three years, I practiced combining the motifs one by one to make a painting.”
Horiuchi’s artwork closely resembles traditional Japanese paintings, including artwork depicting cherry blossom trees, waterfalls, Mount Fuji, sunrise sceneries, and more landscapes. He creates graphs on an Excel spreadsheet—where every square is a different color.
Known as “mathematical expressions, It’s a long process that requires several months just to create just one piece of artwork. But, Horiuchi says he enjoys the process and the experimentation, even if it’s challenging at times.
He commented, “I don’t know when the picture itself will be evaluated by subtracting the unusualness of drawing it in Excel. I don’t know when it will be a nice picture. I struggle.”
After six years of practicing and making art for fun, Horiuchi decided to enter a PC drawing content. He was shocked when he won the grand prize. This encouraged him to be more confident with his designs and to share his work with others.
Horiuchi’s artwork has been featured in numerous art galleries, including the Gunma Museum of Art. In addition, he teaches classes on how to draw in Excel. The art projects allow him to concentrate on a specific activity, which is essential to his enjoyment during his retirement.
Horiuchi has learned the importance of having a fun activity during the “second chapter” of his life. After retiring from work, it’s important to stay busy and start hobbies you never had time for when you were working.
“There are a lot of people who do nothing in their second life,” Horiuchi said. But with his digital artwork, he always has something to do. He can be creative and free to express himself however he pleases. He added, “The colors and shapes can be freely adjusted, and the appeal of painting is endless.”
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