Five Great Outsider Artists and Musicians

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The following creators are not necessarily mainstream in their music or their art. But all are insanely prolific (sometimes literally) and driven by darkness.

All of them push their creative abilities to the extreme to exorcise their own personal demons, be they mental illness, emotional abuse, or a fear of the unknown. All have carved out a niche in the avant-garde or outsider arts, often combining music, prose and art as an all-inclusive creative statement.

While their efforts might not receive the attentions of, say, Lars Ulrich's lavish fine-art habit, their output deserves no less respect and attention.


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April Brem Patrick
5. Dan Melchior
Melchior and his wife Letha are from what has been described as "the most artistically productive household in the country." In Dan Melchior Und Das Menace, the two have churned out some absolutely top-notch post-rock-influenced blues, but both are also tremendously talented artists.

Letha was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, which has made touring with acts such as The White Stripes, The Fall and Interpol difficult for the couple. Melchior makes his living is an intensely productive musician with more than 40 albums and EPs in the last two decades.

If you know anything about a working musician's salary, you won't be surprised to hear that they have also set up a donation fund to help with medical costs. Unfortunately, the stream of donations has slowed recently, so the Melchiors also depend on Dan's even more expansive visual-art repertoire, available for sale online.

Abandoning his usual dark sense of humor, his 2012 album The Backward Path dealt with staring into the uncertain void that is his wife's illness, and came released in a limited "art edition" with handmade artwork.


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4. Tyla
In the early '90's, Tyla fronted what was possibly the least misogynistic hair-metal band, Dogs d'Amour. Rather than the ashtray manners of a trashy party boy, he carries himself with a sense of whiskey-drenched romance.

Tyla cares about the entire listening experience, crafting special artwork for each of his releases, like 1993's All or Nothing, which came with limited-edition postcards. His most iconic image is the lonesome, wandering Guitar Man that has graced many of his album covers over the years.

His style has grown less cartoonish and more refined over the years, but the subject is always often a lone figure wandering a desolate landscape, a possibly ruined society in the distance. He adds text that evokes a poetic sense of yearning, and has said that he "always wanted to read stuff and see pictures while I've listened...every time you look at it you might see something different."


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3. Nick Blinko
The guitarist and lyricist for Rudimentary Peni has always made his artwork an integral part of his creative vision, and Blinko's incredibly detailed ink drawings bear the same macabre imagery as the messages in his songs.

Having been diagnosed with schizophrenia, he often forgoes treatment, believing that it negatively affects his creative output. Blinko has published several books that incorporate the text of the stories into his hand-drawn illustrations. His work has been shown in several international exhibits, including "Encritue en Delire", a show which also contained works by the "Realms of the Unreal" creator and outsider-art icon, Henry Darger.


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