Meet the artist finding comfort and recovery in handwritten slogans

Kelsey Landsgaard explores the self with her project A Soft Wrongness.

[“][I] was not made to be subtle” – one of the many powerful phrases you will see being reblogged and shared across the internet by 22 year old artist Kelsey Landsgaard. Landsgaard has been sharing her artwork on the internet from the age of 12. Growing up with anxiety and depression, throughout the years Kelsey has explored a range of coping mechanisms to relieve herself from thoughts but through it all, art has always been her most steady and reliable companion.

In 2015, Kelsey set up a project titled A Soft Wrongness whereby she expresses herself and her thoughts through handwritten musings written on bright coloured paper ripped from books and notepads. Expressing herself through A Soft Wrongness project has not only helped herself but thousands of other people as well. We spoke to Kelsey to find out how this project came around and what’s next for A Soft Wrongness.

“I've been expressing myself creatively pretty much my entire life in some form or another. My main focus for many years being photography. It has allowed me to be involved in events larger than myself without having to actually participate in them."

When did you first start writing your musings?

I started writing a lot in early 2015. It was a low point for me emotionally, and I felt like none of my usual creative outlets were enough to express the way I was feeling. I felt myself bursting with things to say, but too afraid to say them to the actual people who were causing me pain. So I started writing bits and pieces, hardly ever anything longer than a line or two at a time. I didn’t really know what to do with them. They weren’t long enough to make into poems, nor was I musically adept enough to turn them into songs. I thought that note form was a more interesting way to aesthetically display them. Handwritten work tends to give more of a sense of urgency, and I think that’s a huge part of why people have decided my musings are worth paying attention to. I like to use bright coloured paper and sometimes write using all caps or excessive exclamation marks. I think that words are most effective when they are used concisely.

When did you start the project "A soft wrongness"?

I made the blog in May of 2015, pretty much immediately after writing the first few notes. This has been a very, very personal project for me. In the beginning, I didn’t have any followers nor did I necessarily want them.  Posting to a blog that wasn’t associated with my other social media gave me anonymity, which was so cathartic because I felt like I could share anything and didn’t have to worry about being judged by it. This project ultimately stems from my obsessive tendencies and an attempt to control them. It can be extremely difficult not to let paranoid and anxious thoughts devour you.  I started ‘A Soft Wrongness’ because I loved the freedom. it allowed me to bare my truths. It is definitely a form of therapy for me. When I go back and read things I posted weeks or months ago, it sometimes feels like somebody else wrote them because I no longer connect with them anymore. It has taught me how truly temporary every single feeling is.

How did you come up with the name?

The name is from a book called Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor. I believe it was a chapter title, if I’m remembering correctly. The phrase stuck with me for a long time. I am very interested in femininity and vulnerability as an art form. I think that softness is often seen as a weakness, and I disagree completely with that sentiment. To be soft is a powerful act. To embrace my flaws, my “wrongness” without apology is a powerful act.

Your poetry is beautiful and personal, what inspired you to start sharing it on tumblr?

Thank you, I’m glad you think so! I’ve been sharing my artwork with the internet since I was 12 or 13. It felt like a natural progression to share my writing as well. I consider myself first and foremost an artist, not a writer, so it’s pretty intimidating to allow the world to read and critique my words. I have always felt more comfortable expressing myself visually, so I’m really taken aback that it’s my writing that people seem to be connecting with so strongly.

“I am much more transparent in my words. I don't want to shy away from expressing personal thoughts and feelings because I want to be as honest as possible.”

Were you surprised by the huge response to your work?

I was incredibly surprised by the response! I am very grateful for everyone who has sent me messages telling me that my words have helped them in some way. It’s absolutely mind-blowing to think that I could have that effect on people I’ve never even met. If anything, it has only confirmed for me the bond of human experience. We are all born in different circumstances and face different obstacles throughout our lives, but we all feel the same basic emotions. Anytime I’m feeling particularly alone in my pain, knowing that there are people out there with compassion and understanding helps put that pain in perspective. I hope that I make others feel less alone in their pain as well.

How often do you upload notes?

There is no upload schedule. I try not to pressure myself into posting just because there are now people wanting to hear what I have to say. I generally write 5-10 notes at a time and post them all at once. If it isn’t obvious already, I’m not really good at holding back.

Do you have any other plans for 'A soft wrongness'?

I’ve sold prints in the past, but I’m very interested in publishing a book that encompasses the notes that I feel most strongly represent the project as a whole. I want to continue writing, continue making art, and pushing myself to feel comfortable enough in my own skin that sharing my truth isn’t so scary anymore.