Leaving Normal: the Outsider Artists


s social animals, the natural pull is to “belong,” to merge with another belief system already in place, one shared by those whom we respect or at least feel some kind of kinship.

One of the hardest things in the world is to piece together one’s own Truth, inspired in part by what has already gone before, yet here and there altered to fit with a personal code and mores not necessarily shared by those who love you. Now you alone will have to answer for the dips and turns of your life. And when you trip (and you will), you alone will have to figure out how to pull yourself back up.

In several articles on Combustus, I interviewed artists who are doing exactly that. Take a look:



Ryan McGennisken, outsider artist, wanderer…

“I suppose ‘fear of death’ has kind of turned into somewhat of an obsession, and recently it’s coming out a lot more and my research is definitely getting deeper, exploring other cultures’ ways of dealing with death and life, for example, reincarnation.”


Jennifer McCarthy2

Jennifer C McCarthy, Outsider Artist, El Paso, Texas, USA

“I’m not sure where my images come from; it seems as if they already exist and I am just discovering them, excavating them somehow, with the pens, ink, paint, scratches.”

magaly-ohika fi

Magaly Ohika, Painter and Toy Designer

“When I was a child, I pictured the real world as a circus. It was the only way to cope with the ugly reality I found around me.”


Glenn Brady, Painter, Queensland, Australia

“I moved out to live with a bunch of other drunken teens. Around 1982 with no family around, I found punk rock, and got very involved in it. Like being a kid again. And part of ‘something.’ Colorful. And loud.”


Alo Street Artist, East London and Italy

“I’ve always been drawn to those outside society. Myself, I feel I belong most to this side of mankind. I think the criteria people use to make this distinction is deeply wrong.”

Ken Law

Ken Law, Outsider Artist, Taiwan

My color combinations and mixing is nothing more than intuitive and all me. That’s why I call myself an Outsider Artist.  I’m outside of the rules, and that feels right to me.”

Ian Gamache

Ian Gamache: Outsider Artist

“I don’t consider what I do to be ‘whining’, in fact part of me agrees with the ‘pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps’ philosophy; but not everybody has boots, or even legs for that matter.”


Fabio Sgroi, Photographer, Palermo, Italy

“My technique I developed myself. I never studied. Learned everything on my own; and that for me is important. If I travel to a city to shoot, I don’t follow the main street; I go to other small roads that eventually arrive at the main road.”


Keemo, Outsider Artist, Grand Rapids, Michigan

 “I suppose according to the definition, I would be considered an outsider artist. Although, I don’t really give any thought to what label might be appropriate to where I fit into the art world. I just keep trying to make the art that I want to make and that is about it.”


 “I Look for the Cracks,” Faiza Maghni

“I try to create a moment of poetry out of time, an intimate and hushed atmosphere.”
~Faiza Maghni, Algerian painter now living and working in Paris.




Combustus Managing Editor | + posts

My dream: to create a unique vehicle for artists and visionaries from all genres and all over the globe to inspire and learn from one another.

Leave a Comment