Tatsuo’s Second Act: Turning Data Into Art

On the verge of retirement, Tatsuo-Horiuchi-Senior-Planet Tatsuo Horiuchi was trying to adjust to the idea and decided he needed a new challenge in his life. That was 13 years ago. Today, Horiuchi, 73, is making his name as a digital artist. His tool? Microsoft Excel!

“I never used Excel at work but I saw other people making pretty graphs and thought, ‘I could probably draw with that,'” Horiuchi told PC online. “Graphics software is expensive but Excel comes pre-installed in most computers.”  (Quotes translated by Japanese-culture site Spoon & Tamago.)

Horiuchi bought a computer, learned the program that most people associate with boring spreadsheets, and started experimenting (he also tried using Microsoft Word, but found it didn’t offer the flexibility). In 2006, he won the Excel Autoshape Art Contest and later started exhibiting his work in a local art museum, as well as producing large-scale pieces. Ten years into his new life, Horiuchi is gaining a reputation for his intricate renderings of traditional Japanese scenes.

The Japanese site Kotaku says, “Other artists have used Excel to draw and paint, sure. However, how many of them are senior citizens creating traditional and stunning Japanese motifs? Not many!”

On his website, Horiuchi includes instructions for using Excel to create digital works and also offers free downloads of his Excel files; once you download and open them, you can mess around and make your own versions. Of course, the directions are all in Japanese, but if you click the “translate” button at the top of your screen, Google will spit out a rough estimation of the steps in English. Click the images to download the Excel files:


Cherry Blossoms at Jogo Castle (2006)



Kegon Falls (2007)

Anyone up for the challenge?

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