Listen up — we’re about to tell you the story of an artist.
Daniel Johnston wasn’t an Austinite by birth, but he settled in ATX in the 1980s after visiting the city as part of a traveling carnival. He liked Bat City so much, he stayed.
His lo-fi, homemade-sounding music grew a strong cult following. His most famous song, “True Love Will Find You in the End,” was eventually covered by stars like Beck and Wilco.
Jeremiah was just one of many cartoon-like characters invented by Daniel, who was also a talented visual artist and was honored by a Contemporary Austin exhibit last year.
Throughout his life, Daniel struggled with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. He shared his lived experiences, finding an outlet in his art until he died of natural causes in 2019.
Daniel is frequently remembered for his creation of Jeremiah the Innocent, a frog-like creature who stars in one of Austin’s most well-known murals alongside the words “Hi, How Are You.” Despite the recent demolition of the building he’s housed on, Jeremiah has been preserved.
Daniel and Jeremiah also inspired the creation of the Hi, How Are You Project, a local nonprofit dedicated to removing the stigma around mental health. The group offers training and hosts the annual Hi How Are You Day concert on Daniel’s birthday.
Currently, the nonprofit is running the Happy Habit-a-Thon, a month-long virtual event promoting “Happy Habits” like being grateful and practicing kindness. Last year, thousands of people across six continents and 30 countries participated.