A Brief Survey of Famous Writers Who Also Made Art

Sylvia Plath’s colorful canvasses from her art school days, William S. Burroughs’ splatter art from his later years, Lewis Carroll’s strange portrait photographs of little girls — these artistic endeavors are often overshadowed by their makers’ well-known literary bodies of work. Alternately, Vonnegut’s doodles seem to be so integrated into his prose, the two mediums are inseparable. In either direction, those toiling with typewriter keys and ink do sometimes pick up the camera, the paint brush or… the shot gun! Let’s take a sampling of the fruits of their doubly-apt efforts and peak at the visual media by some of our favorite authors.

William S. Burroughs

Reluctant godfather of punk, transgressive Beat generation champ and NYC stalwart, William S. Burroughs (1914-1997) always extended his literary practice into avant-garde territories — the cut-up novels and films, the dreammachine, the prose itself. He spent his later years in Kansas, in his backyard, shooting the shit out of spray paint cans with his shot gun onto blank canvases. The bursting, holed pieces were displayed in Chicago and New York in the late ’80s and early ’90s.