On Van Gogh

What can Van Gogh teach us about startups and technology? Here’s what I learned by visiting the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Personal Growth

You don’t have to be a master from the start, it’s always a process of growth. He started his artistic career late-ish at 27. He needed a perspective frame to flatten images on to the canvas, he used tracing and projection tools as well.

Van Gogh Museum (2014). @coreylatislaw.com



Each masterpiece was preceded by many studies in sketch and painted format. Much thought and care went into each production. His style evolved over time with lots of practice. The software field could learn from this.


Hung out with other artists sharing inspiration and techniques. Moved to Paris to learn from the greats and the community. Sought out others to learn and share. My skill and passion for tech has grown as I’ve found my community.


He learned from many classic and contemporary techniques, but made them his own e.g. varying pointillism with differing strokes. He studied the technical aspects of the trades of the laborers that he painted to better capture their work. Loved the use of texture and color, makes it feel like you could touch the Birds’ Nests (1885).

Van Gogh Museum (2014). Implementing existing design into your own art. @coreylatislaw.com

On Accessibility

He was interested in making his art accessible to all people, strove for clarity in his style. Wanted the painting and colors to speak for themselves.

Self Study

Realized he was behind other’s technical skill in painting at university, but decided to pursue his own studies. Thought technically perfect paintings lacked soul. He was inspired by and rejuvenated by nature. Travelled and painted in new locations. Used wool yarn to experiment with color combinations.


He painted on the back of several of his paintings to save money. Painted self portraits and still lives because models were expensive. Just needed a mirror to experiment with portraiture.


He tried not to ‘see the bleak things bleakly.’

We are too short sided in tech and venerate the people who spend all their time coding. There are more important things in life also technologist can greatly benefit from the inclusion of other disciplines (e.g. Jobs’ obsession with fonts).

2 thoughts on “On Van Gogh

  1. Clever remarks! I’ve been recently to this museum and I was very happy to see the visibility they give to his letters, what makes it possible to have an idea of his view of the world.

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