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The Devil and Daniel Johnston


Outsider artists come in all flavors, but we prefer ours lovable, childlike, and doomed. So Daniel Johnston is a natural choice.

His medium of choice is permanent marker and his inspiration comes from a lifelong struggle with schizophrenia and violent psychosis. On top of which, he’s one of the better songwriters to emerge from the past 25 years. But let’s tackle one career at a time…

Rizzoli just put out a compendium of Johnston’s artwork that offers a pretty good introduction to the man. He’s still probably best known for his frog mural in Austin (a favorite of Kurt Cobain), but there’s plenty more lurid work that plumbs the less pleasant parts of Johnston’s psyche.

The shots below don’t do full justice to the slapdash nature of Johnston’s work—more than most art, you need to see this in person—but they give some sense of the way his doodles slowly curdle into something darker. Not bad, for magic markers.