Finding Beauty in Microsoft Excel

Over the past few days at work, I’ve found myself neck-deep in spreadsheets. It’s not the first time. Nor do I expect it to be the last. But it still stings. And this time, it’s produced an acute case of Nathanaelitis: “Can anything good come from Excel?

Thanks to 73-year-old Excel artist Tatsuo Horiuchi — Yep. You read that correctly. Excel artist. —  I now know that the answer to my petulant complaining is an emphatic “Yes!” (Also, I now know that Excel Autoshape Art Contests actually exist. I’m…not really sure how I feel about that.)

“I never used Excel at work but I saw other people making pretty graphs and thought, ‘I could probably draw with that,’” says 73-year old Tatsuo Horiuchi. About 13 years ago, shortly before retiring, Horiuchi decide he needed a new challenge in his life. So he bought a computer and began experimenting with Excel. “Graphics software is expensive but Excel comes pre-installed in most computers,” explained Horiuchi.

As I have frequently remarked/lamented in the past, I can’t draw. At. All. So people who can freak me out. Just a little. I’m also freaked out by people who can manipulate their spreadsheets as easily and artfully as an artist wields his brush. So I can’t decide whether to be encouraged that Horiuchi’s doing something I might actually be able to do (at some far lesser level), or doubly freaked out by his abilities.

He’s been at it for years now, and is quite a successful artist. But that’s not even the craziest part. That moniker’s reserved for the fact that you can actually download and examine a couple of his spreadsheets at that original link“Cherry Blossoms at Jogo Castle” (from 2006, and shown above) and 2007’s “Kegon Falls” (below). (Be careful, though. Major time sink warning. So if you’re like me and need to be doing actual …work in Excel, you might want to wait a bit.)

If there is beauty to be found even here, is there anywhere it cannot be found? I might need to reevaluate everything.

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About Joseph Susanka

Joseph has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since graduating from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. A grateful resident of Wyoming, he spends his free time exploring the beautiful Wind River Mountains, keeping track of his (currently) seven sons, being amazed by his (currently) lone daughter, and thanking his lucky stars for Netflix.