Off the Map: A look into backyard paradises created by visionary artists around the world
What is Visionary Art?

Visionary art . . . outsider art . . . self-taught art . . . is work made by people who didn’t necessarily go to school to be artists. They usually don’t even think that what they’re doing is making art—they may simply think they’re decorating their houses or yards or painting signs.

Visionary artists make art because they feel like they have to make it —it comes from a strong inner belief, or “vision.”

They don’t pay attention to what other people think of their work, or how other people think they should be doing it. They don’t mind if you don't like their work—that might even make them happy—but mostly they do it just to please themselves.

They use all kinds of materials to make art—everything from chewing gum to bottle caps to matchsticks.

They might spend five years working on one piece of art, like the man who made a ship model using 193,000 toothpicks.

Visionary artists are different from folk artists, who learn to make art from a grandparent or a neighbor, or someone else who already knows how to do it.

Visionary artists come from all over the world and the one thing all of them most like to show in their work is the Garden of Eden - or their own paradise on earth.

Off the Map is all about the visions of paradise that ten people from around the world have created. These people did not consider themselves to be artists — but what they have built is amazing and very difficult to categorize.  

In addition to touring ten visionary paradises, the “Off the Map” web site gives you a chance to build a paradise of your own. The Make Your Own Paradise tool is designed to give you control over a backyard environment so you can create your own vision. We have collected over 150 interesting objects to work with, and lots of control over how you use them. You can email the image you create to your friends or submit it to the “Off the Map” web site gallery.

Off the Map gives you an opportunity to enter a unique view of the world as seen through the eyes of ten incredible visionaries. Once you are inspired by their vision, be sure to build your own online backyard paradise and share it with the world.

Image of American Visionary Art Museum exterior

To see visionary art
up-close and personal visit . . .

American Visionary Art Museum
Vision is the art of seeing things invisible

On the map in Baltimore, MD
On the web at

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