John Smith exhibits Excel art at Avon Library |

John Smith exhibits Excel art at Avon Library

Rosanna Turner
Daily Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyJohn Smith creates art using the Excel computer program. His work is on display at the Avon library this month.

AVON, Colorado – The average person uses Microsoft Excel for business purposes, but not John Smith. Despite what his name suggests, John Smith is not your average guy. Smith uses Microsoft Excel to create art. An exhibit of his work is currently on display at the Avon Public Library for the month of October. Smith started making “Excel art,” as he calls it, after discovering it could be used for more than his construction business.

“I started doing construction layout drawings. And as I played with that more and more, I realized that there were all these other tools in Excel,” Smith said. “I use Excel as a pallette. I adjust the column widths to make them the same size vertically and horizontally. I’m obsessed with symmetry. There are a lot of different functions in Excel that I use.”

Smith has built a library of techniques since he began creating Excel art in 2008. He’s now skilled at drawing difficult objects using the software, such as the shape of a guitar or the image of a snowboarder. Smith’s colorful canvases are at once both chaotic and structured. This results in a spastic kaleidoscope that reflects the artists’ intent to alarm us.-

“I saw a great bumper sticker the other day that said ‘Artists are meant to disturb.’ I hope that this is somewhat disturbing,” Smith said.

Smith’s childhood experiences motivated him to create his own artwork at a young age.

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“My parents are potters. I grew up making pottery, sculpting,” Smith said. “I got to go spend time in Colorado artist Angelo DiBenedetto’s studio, which I thought really propelled me forward in my interest in art. It made me see what was possible in art and captivated me so much visually that for a long time I just wanted to replicate that experience, that creative process.”

After teaching a class at CMC in 2009, Smith wants to continue educating others on how to make their own art using Microsoft Excel. Smith believes that creating art with the software has helped him deal with past experiences.-

“All of this is really personal,” Smith said. “I never expected to put in out there in a commercial sort of way. I didn’t think about the end game of being a successful artist.”

Smith’s strong desire to help others deal with difficult issues using Excel art distinguishes him from other artists who are solely devoted to their own individual expression. True to his moniker, Smith wants to prove that even the average person can create art.–

“I am always focused on how this can be an expression and an instrument to creating a community, as well as teaching others to do it as a therapeutic modality,” Smith said. “I think it’s a great learning tool… it’s so captivating when you get going, the opportunities, the colors, the flexibility of the program once you learn it.”

John Smith’s Excel art is on display at the Avon Public Library until the end of October.

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