They’re quite EXCELent, if we do say so ourselves.

In the era of a thousand illustration programs, art has endless possibilities to be created. Whether you’re more of a Photoshop magician or an MS Paint artist, we can easily find a program that best suits our needs. In Japan, 80-year-old Tatsuo Horiuchi chose one that may leave you rubbing your head: Microsoft Excel.

It all started when he decided, before retiring, to get into art. However, he didn’t want to spend money on art supplies, which can sometimes be quite expensive.

Woman with parasol, by Horiuchi

His decision to use Excel to create his artwork began when he was at work. “I never used Excel at work but I saw other people making pretty graphs and thought ‘I could probably draw with that’”, Horiuchi said. He also mentioned trying Microsoft Word before committing to Excel, but he found it to be too restrictive when it came to paper sizing.

Horiuchi has truly become an Excel expert since then. A software that is typically filled with numbers, formulas, and graphs is used by him to create breathtaking pieces that mimic traditional Japanese paintings. Beautiful cherry blossom trees, waterfalls in autumn, and the sight of Mount Fuji at sunrise are only a few examples of the landscapes he has created.

RYUZU Falls at Niko area, by Horiuchi

And if you’re wondering what his process looks like, it looks something like this:

© Horiuchi

In an interview for AFP, the Japanese artist explained he didn’t expect to be immediately good at it, so he made a 10-year plan. “For the first three years, I focused on “drawing”, and I drew everything I could see”, he said. “During the next three years, I practiced combining the motifs one by one to make a painting”.


Six years after starting his journey, he entered his first PC drawing contest and won first place. “I was confident and became more involved in production”, Horiuchi said. Since then, he has gotten to share his knowledge by teaching others how to draw in Excel, and his artwork has been featured in the Gunma Museum of Art.

While some of us can’t even use Excel properly for its original purpose (oops), Horiuchi uses it in a truly unique way. He is the living proof that it’s never too late to learn a new skill, and that if you put your mind and your heart to it, you can achieve anything–even without expensive software!