Friday, January 15, 2021

Letters to a young artist: Outsider


Dear Young Artist:

I was up late last night editing strange, close-up pictures of a burbling stream above my local waterfall called Shadow Falls. And as I edited these pictures, of which I will include one below, because that's how it is for... us, and for people like us, if there are any, ourselves included, I listened to "Outsider" music; Daniel Johnston and The Shaggs mostly. You might want to consider that you yourself might be an Outsider artist. Although deciding you are one is probably disqualifying. As Daniel Johnston wrote:

Everyone and friends and family

Saying, "Hey, get a job

Why do you only do that only?

Why are you so odd?"

But because you are a young artist, you may not have heard of Outsider Art, so allow me to try and explain it off the top of my head without consulting any sources:

Outsider art is Art that is not very good or skillful or knowledgeable or professional or normal, but nevertheless is so earnest, obsessive, innocent, and/or passionate that it ends up being kind of good anyway, all in its very strangeness and by some magical virtue of its unique commitment. But it's usually pretty difficult art, and you have to open yourself to it to like it at all.

You might be wondering:

"Hey, approaching 3,000 daily blogposts to an audience of eleven, with grandiose stories of the gods and of fixing the world, details of working a low level job at a library, inscrutable jokes, weird pictures of creeks, are you an outsider artist?"

You, young artist, will want to pay close attention to this answer:

No. We are here right now at the center of everything. 

It is the World itself that wanders lost in the desert.

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