Jon Rosen: “A Range of Intense, Peculiar, and Personal Ideas and Feelings”

Artist name: Jon Rosen

Featured Work 1: 4 Misfits Slideshow

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With honest, wavering, organic lines and thoughtful swaths and patterns of color, Jon Rosen brings The Misfits into being.  They stroll, stand, or float on the page, where they have been placed with care in a series of vulnerable, eccentric, and nuanced portraits. The Weary Muse, above, was the first Misfit I ever saw. The muse has collapsed into a technicolor cloth, and all I want is for that sleep to be long and satisfying. As I met more misfits, more neighbors and friends on paper, their mounting specificity and peculiarity made me feel more at home in myself.

Featured Work 2: Giorgianna


Giorgianna feels like my long lost sister.  Reading and viewing Jon Rosen’s misfits reminds us that we are all misfits, and that the world around us is more complicated, sad, hopeful, and individually colored than we sometimes may think when absorbing it through sound bites and the glare of social media. I am glad to know the misfits and will visit their realm in order to better appreciate myself and my own world again soon.

Occasionally Jon Rosen shares his other drawings on The Misfits Museum Facebook page as well:


5 Questions for the Artist:

1. What is art to you?

“I can’t put it better than my favorite writer, Kafka, who wrote in his diary: ‘I feel only too strongly the limits of my abilities, narrow limits, doubtless, unless I am completely inspired. And I believe that even in the grip of inspiration I am swept along only within these narrow limits, which, however, I then no longer feel because I am being swept along. Nevertheless, within these limits there is room to live.’ I am painfully aware of my own limitations, artistic and otherwise, but in the creation of the Misfits I have been fortunate to discover a small territory that allows for the expression (and thus for the “life”) of a range of intense, peculiar, and personal ideas and feelings.”

2. What did you make in the past, and why?

“I have always written—stories, poems, essays, screenplays. When it comes to the ‘arts,’ all I have created (and all I have been able to create)–are the Misfits. When I first began drawing the characters during my high school years, they were very crude–just quick, spontaneous attempts to represent a thought or feeling, usually drawn on a scrap of paper or a napkin. In time, I began taking them more seriously: I realized that in drawing these characters I could explore and express deeper psychological, aesthetic, and philosophical ideas. Eventually an agent from William Morris saw a poster of characters hanging in a friend’s bathroom and contacted me. I suggested a book idea and they found a publisher (Bloomsbury).”

3. What are you making now, and why?

“Shortly after the publication of The Misfits, I put together a proposal for another book called ‘Ineligible Bachelors.’ The book was to be a collection of drawings of bachelors who were romantically handicapped due to some amusing psychological or physical shortcoming, but I couldn’t find a publisher for it. At that point my life took a surprising turn: I began a doctoral program in philosophy at UMass Amherst. I’ve been busy with this program ever since, but have recently begun working again on the Misfits and have been posting them on my Misfits Museum Facebook page.”

4. What are your hopes for the future?

“Not to be dramatic, but I hope, first of all, that I’m in the future. Assuming I am, I hope to continue exploring the artistic, literary and philosophical ideas that I find fascinating and beautiful. I have many ideas for new Misfits, and have thought to put together another book of drawings accompanied with lengthier writing–vignettes about people I have known and other subjects. It would be nice to find a way to incorporate my various interests in one format.”

5. Do you want to add anything?

“I want to thank Julia for taking an interest in the Misfits and I want to thank artists and creative people in general. Cesare Pavese has written: “When we read, we are not looking for new ideas but to see our own thoughts given the seal of confirmation on the printed page. The words that strike us are those that awake an echo in a zone we have already made our own–the place where we live–and the vibration enables us to find fresh starting points within ourselves.” This business of living–of being a human being on this planet–can be a difficult and perplexing and often downright discouraging endeavor. I am deeply grateful for and indebted to those artists who have helped me find “fresh starting points.” If anything, my work is an effort to recapture and to repeat their echo.”

Artist Supplied Background:

Jon Rosen is author of The Misfits (Bloomsbury). He is a doctoral candidate in philosophy and teaches as adjunct faculty at Simon’s Rock College of Bard.


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5 Questions for the Artist, © Julia Travers



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