What Does the Term ‘Outsider Art’ Mean to You?

Every now and then I like to twist myself up into knots thinking about the term ‘outsider art’; what it means in today’s context and whether we should even be using it anymore. You can find some of my thoughts under the ‘Outsider Art: Theory and Thoughts’ category (or by clicking here), but in this blog post I wanted to share some of the thoughts of artists who have recently featured on the blog. A while ago, I started asking artists what they thought of the term outsider art, and, if they didn’t think it was appropriate or relevant, was there a term better suited to describing their work?

I’ve had some really interesting responses, and some equally interesting new terms. Maybe it’s time we listened to the artists we are categorising under this term.

Daniele Valeriani, Vanitas 1 (detail)

Daniele Valeriani, Vanitas 1 (detail)

Daniele Valeriani: Dark Surreal Art
“I could consider myself an outsider for sure due to the fact that I do not care about fashions or easy solutions. In fact what I create is not conditioned or calculated but simply what I like the most. I don’t care about judgments except from other artists I admire, and only then so that I can learn or increase my technique or cultural view. In my case Dark Surreal Art is the term that I find more akin to my art because better emphasizes my style and themes. Outsider is a broader term.”
More of Daniele’s work is coming soon on the blog

Mario Soane, Que horas son corazon

Mario Soane, Que horas son corazon

Mario Seoane: Symbolic Automatism
“I’ve been an outsider all my life and in every aspect it. If there is a place in art for me, I guess it would be on the outside. But I like the term Art Brut better (not sure if it is because of the French sound to it or what). I believe that art is about brutality, even if it’s about hiding it. We are all animals, brutes. All our actions, as much as they are masked under the shroud of civilization, are brutish in nature. Art is no exception.”
Click here to see more of Mario’s work

Anonymous, A Cold Heart Melts

Anonymous, A Cold Heart Melts

Brendan Liam: Nomadic Art
“Nomadic Art is closer to street art than fine art. It is always artist-less, or by Anonymous. This is partially because knowing the name attached to a piece of visual art arguably clouds one’s ability to objectively view the art. Naturally some artists are so unique they may not need to sign and thus may not avoid the subjectivity issue addressed normally by anonymity. The thing to note is the credentials attached to the art here – which are none. No artist means no resume, and all that goes away with that.” Click here to see more on Brendan

Frank Heiler, Don't Look

Frank Heiler, Don’t Look

Frank Heiler: Dark Surrealism
“I think outsider art fits well with some of my work, especially my more experimental pieces. Although I do draw influences from other artists, I always try to keep a foreign, outside element to my art, something chaotic and new, with my own influence. Dark Surrealism is probably a better term to describe what I do, however.”
Click here to see more of Frank’s work

Mr Bartle, The Cellist

Mr Bartle, The Cellist

Mr Bartle
“Like all art classifications it’s useful in grouping together work with similar characteristics, but the term is defined differently in different places. If outsider art is art created by untrained artists, then that’s not me. If outsider art is only art created by people on the edge of society, then that’s not me. Why I feel comfortable with the term and am happy with it as a classification regardless of other people’s ideas of what it should mean, is that I ‘feel’ like an outsider. I’ve never known where I’m supposed to fit into everything. So much of it doesn’t make sense to me – the way I’d like to live, depression.”
Click here to see more of Mr Bartle’s work

Beatrice Roberts

Beatrice Roberts

Beatrice Roberts
“Well, due to my own life experience, I feel like an outsider most of the time. I’m not a ‘people person’ and some of this is, I’m sure, due to my past. I was bullied for many years and my self-confidence was eroded to a massive extent. I still have anxiety issues because of it. I was also isolated from family, friends and any support networks, so I got into the habit of being self-reliant. These days I have a wonderful partner and I am slowly but surely healing, but as my art is me, and I feel like an outsider, it is probably a reasonable term to use for my art.”
Click here to see more of Beatrice’s work

Let me know what you think. Do any of the terms above resonate with you? What do you think of the term outsider art? Do you like being referred to as an ‘outsider artist’? Post any thoughts in the comments below.

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