For a while, I really struggled to find a place in the art world. I wasn’t sure where I fit in. I have no formal training (other than the art classes I had in elementary and middle school), so I am almost entirely self-taught. I have read some artistic “how to” books, but always tend to kind of do my own thing and follow my own style. Even when it comes to picking art tools and supplies, I don’t necessarily go for the “high art” stuff that costs an arm and a leg. For pen and ink work, I tend to use Sharpie markers and pens and for painting, I use moderately priced acrylic and watercolor paints and usually paint on art board (a sturdy kind of cardboard). I do indulge a bit and get good quality sketching pencils, but they don’t cost all that much anyhow. For colored pencil/crayon work I have used high-priced “artistic” brands, but still kind of prefer the old fashioned Crayola honestly.
So when I heard about the genre of outsider art and that it generally refers to self-taught artists, I was immediately interested. I found out that outsider art is also often linked to artists who suffer from mental illnesses or disabilities, which fits me great since I have high-functioning autism and due to that, may tend to look at the world a bit differently than neurotypicals. Of course, I also have troubles with anxiety and depression, so I may qualify on both counts!
Lastly, I have read that outsider artists generally don’t create for the sake of “selling” their art or obtaining commercial work, but instead make art that is meaningful and appealing to them personally, even if it means not selling much work. In no way do I look down on artists who take on commercial projects or create with an eye to selling (everyone has to eat after all), but I myself struggle to do a good job on any artwork that doesn’t cooperate with my passionate Aspie obsessive interests. I am thrilled when I do sell artwork because it means I have kindred souls out there…and that excites me even more than any financial payoff.
So there you have it, my take on outsider art and why I feel I fit in that category. I know there are many art experts who sit around and debate what true outsider art is and if it even exists, but for me, the outsider art community has made me feel at home…and maybe that matters most of all.