Data’s new leading edge role in creativity

The Next Rembrandt is one of this year’s most talked about artificial intelligence meets creativity projects. A group of art historians, material researchers, data scientists and engineers – led by J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam for client ING and technical partner Microsoft – spent 18 months to take on a controversial challenge: how to teach a machine to think, act and paint like Rembrandt.

The result is The Next Rembrandt - a 3D printed painting, made solely from data of Rembrandt’s work. The painting consists of over 148 million pixels and was created using deep learning algorithms and facial recognition techniques, based on 168,263 painting fragments from Rembrandt’s oeuvre. Bringing the Master of Light and Shadow back to life to create one more painting. Only this time, data is the painter, and technology the brush.

The painting was unveiled on 5 April 2016 in Amsterdam and immediately caught the zeitgeist, becoming the global trending topic of the launch day - reporting 10 million twitter impressions. Since then The Next Rembrandt has started a global discourse on where data and technology will take us next. And data’s new relationship with creativity. How data is now inspiring creativity; how data is now becoming part of ideas.

The project has been reported on globally since launch, with over 1,400 articles and counting, including The Guardian and The Telegraph, NPR, The New Yorker,TechCrunch, Fast Company and the Wall Street Journal, to name but a few. 1.8 billion media impressions have been achieved in the first month after the unveiling of The Next Rembrandt.

Adding to the ongoing global conversation about the meaning for our industry and the future of creativity, the technology developed for The Next Rembrandt will now be used for the restoration of damaged and partially lost masterpieces. In addition, parts of the code will be made open source to benefit future innovations.

After winning a total of sixteen Cannes Lions during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2016, including a Grand Prix in both Cyber and Creative Data and the Innovation Lion, the Next Rembrandt represents the new, leading edge role of data in creativity.

ING - The Next Rembrandt:

Grand Prix

  • Creative Data A10. Creative Data Collection & Research
  • Cyber A08. Financial Products & Services

Innovation Lion

  • Innovation A02. Creative Innovation


  • Outdoor F05. Digital Poster Craft
  • Outdoor D04. Live Advertising & Events
  • Digital Craft D03. Data Visualisation new


  • Design C04. Data Visualisation
  • Creative Data A01. Creative Data Enhancement
  • Creative Data A04. Data Storytelling
  • Direct D01. Use of Data
  • Promo & Activation D02. Sponsorship & Partnership
  • Cyber A11. Corporate Image


  • Creative Data A05. Data Visualisation
  • Digital Craft E04. Innovative Use of Technology
  • Digital Craft D02. Data Storytelling new


  • Creative Data A06. Data-Technology
  • Digital Craft E05. Technological Achievement in Digital Craft
  • Cyber H01. Integrated Multi-Platform Campaign
  • Direct A08. Financial Products & Services
  • Direct B04. Use of Ambient Media: Large Scale
  • Cyber D04. Other Video
  • Cyber G02. Spatial Tech