Keep Austin Weird is the slogan adopted by the Austin Independent Business Alliance to promote small businesses in Austin, Texas. The phrase has long been believed to have been coined in 2000 by Red Wassenich, who says he made the comment after giving a pledge to an Austin radio station. He later began printing bumper stickers, and now operates the website keepaustinweird.com and published ‘Keep Austin Weird: A Guide to the Odd Side of Town.’ Despite a challenge from Wassenich, the slogan was later trademarked by Outhouse Designs and used to market T-shirts, hats, and mugs. A recently released book on the topic, ‘Weird City,’ discusses the cultural evolution of the movement as well as its commercialization and socio-political significance.
Austin is the self-proclaimed ‘live music capital of the world’ and the people of Austin reflect a friendly, accepting culture of artistic and individual expression that maintains the city as a vibrant and eclectic creative center and haven for an LGBT community, intellectual community, community of naturalists and environmentalists, and for subcultures and people(s) who are not mainstream. In a mostly conservative Texas, Austin is ‘Weird’ because of that and because it continues to be liberal and progressive politically, socially, in culture, in the arts and in music, among other things. ‘Keep Austin Weird’ moves beyond a mere slogan, to reflect the dynamics that encompass Austin.