Nov 30 2011

#214 “Misfits”

From a stranger in Elk Grove, California

With December beginning tomorrow and the end of the year bearing down on us like a freight train, my mind is consumed with all things Christmas. Even if it wasn’t my natural inclination to focus on the holiday season, I’m not sure I would be able to help it, what with all the decorations in every place of business and constant advertising. But I’m not one to complain. I love this time of year, and I fully embrace every aspect of it, overzealous commercialism included.

Anyway, getting to the business at hand, when I look at this picture of these two playful wolves, I can’t help but be reminded of that timeless Christmas classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Maybe its the particularly round noses that these wolves have, or perhaps it’s the coniferous tree and somewhat smooth terrain that reminds me of freshly fallen snow… but regardless of what the specific triggers are, there’s simply something about this illustration that whispers “Rudolph” in my ear.

In the end, I don’t believe that the artist had any intention of creating parallels between that childhood Christmas tale and this particular illustration, but that doesn’t mean that the parallels don’t exist. For instance, if you were to really study the film, you would notice that solidarity and acceptance are major themes. Similarly, this picture presents not one wolf, but two, indicating that the message revolves around the importance of companionship, love and acceptance. This illustration teaches this lesson with wolves, just as Rudolph taught it with reindeer… and toys. In fact one, of the scenes in the film that overtly displays this theme is presented below. Also, this just so happens to be my absolute favorite part of the film.

Returning full circle, tomorrow is the first day of December, and I believe that a seasonal lesson is in order. With all of the distractions that come with holiday decorating and cooking and shopping and cleaning and weight-watching and family-visiting and traveling, it’s actually very easy to lose sight of one of the most important aspects of the season: love and acceptance for all.

And finally, I’d like to offer a very special thanks to this stranger in California. I know that this project is a bit out of the ordinary, and as a result, I have often felt like a misfit. But the generous donation of your artwork has made me feel valued and loved, and for that I am truly grateful.

Nov 29 2011

#213 “Crazy Combo”

From a stranger in Raleigh, North Carolina

At a first glance, this simple illustration might seem like nothing more than an uncomplicated reference to the collection of athletic teams at North Carolina State University known affectionately as the Wolfpack. However, a deeper inspection reveals that the motivations and focus behind this particular picture are much more complicated and not so easy to decipher. An interesting combination of creative influences are at work here that only the Internet-savvy mind would be able to interpret.

Let’s explore this together: First of all, we’ll notice that the individual who drew this picture is no doubt very familiar with the latest memes that happen to be making their way across the World Wide Web at any point in time. This is made obvious by the fact that this stranger discovered Wolves by Strangers via, a semi-serious subculture “news” website of sorts. But one will also notice that the username is a reference to NCSU which explains why the individual would be enamored with wolves in the first place. But what about the fact that there is a wolf riding another wolf in the illustration? Well, dear friends, to understand this somewhat subtle reference, you must really know your memes. Combined with accompanying text that states, “I heard you like wolves,” this picture is an enigmatic yet overt reference to the Xhibit “Yo, Dawg” meme (which you can find more information about here).

So, in the end, while this illustration may seem simple at first, it is deceptively so. In reality, a variety of influences come together to form a unique wolf soup, flavored with a variety of electronic spices and served up in a meme-based bowl. The NCSU Wolfpack,, Wolves by Strangers and Xhibit. What a tasty treat!

Nov 28 2011

#212 “Wolf!”

From a stranger in Charlotte, North Carolina

Today we’re getting back to basics with this classically cartoonish wolf illustration from the foothills of North Carolina. No gimmicks, no frills, no ulterior motives- what you see is what you get in this simple but inspiring rendition of a playful lobo with a toothy grin. What better time to share a few pearls of wolf wisdom? Feast upon the wolf-related quotes below and take from them what you will. And as always, a special thanks to this stranger for this special illustration. Every one counts!

“Throughout the centuries we have projected on to the wolf the qualities we most despise and fear in ourselves.” -Barry Lopez

“Wolves may feature in our myths, our history, and our dreams, but they have their own future, their own loves, their own dreams to fulfill.” -Anthony Miles

“The caribou feeds the wolf, but it is the wolf who keeps the caribou strong.” -Keewation (Inuit) Proverb

“We have doomed the Wolf not for what it is, but for what we have deliberately and mistakenly perceived it to be..the mythologized epitome of a savage, ruthless killer..which is, in reality no more than a reflexed images of ourself.” -Farley Mowat

“We humans fear the beast within the wolf because we do not understand the beast within ourselves” -Gerald Hausman

“Only a mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf.” -Aldo Leopold

“We reached the old wolf in time to watch the fierce green fire dying in her eyes. . . .There was something new to me in those eyes— something known only to her and the mountains. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch. I thought that because fewer wolves more deer that no wolves would mean hunter’s paradise, but after seeing the green fire dire, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.” -Aldo Leopold

“Wolves are not our brothers; they are not our subordinates, either. They are another nation, caught up just like us in the complex web of time and life.” -Henry Beston

“The wolf is neither man’s competitor nor his enemy. He is a fellow creature with whom the earth must be shared.” -L. David Mech

Nov 27 2011

#211 “Little Pig…”

From Justin at the University of Missouri

A couple of days ago I posted an illustration from a talented artist named Aaron which pictured a four-armed Little Red Riding Hood gunning down a wolf in a strangely urban in environment. In my accompanying commentary, I noted how interesting and fun it can be take a classic tale and incorporate our own twists into the story. I’m not going to rehash all of that here, but I do find that this illustration is well aligned with that same idea and delivers an intriguing new presentation of a classic childhood tale. There is a sense of savagery and violence in this wolf that is nicely juxtaposed with the innocence of the landscape and the apparent naiveté of these little pigs. And furthermore, what is really interesting is how all of these elements combine to form a picture that is more or less believable. It’s very strange in a way: the viewer can obviously tell that his picture is a patchwork of several elements, but they fit together so seamlessly that (although the picture is weird and a bit freaky) it feels natural and not forced.

But since we are on the topic of The Three Little Pigs and are also discussing interesting retellings of vintage children’s stories, I figured that I would share another one with you here. If you have never heard the song “Little Pig, Little Pig” by Green Jelly, you’re in for a treat. The “hardness” of the song shares a similar vibe with Justin’s in-your-face illustration and the stop-motion animation also contributes to that indescribable “natural” feeling that combines strangely with a voluntary suspension of reality. In the end, it’s difficult to describe, but this song and video just seem to fit. Enjoy!

Nov 26 2011

#210 “Refocusing”

From Tami in Guyton, Georgia

Well, well, well… 209 “Wolves by Strangers” posts have flown by like the passing of a swift but gentle breeze; it’s amazing how time passes so quickly. I have enjoyed each and every post, and I look forward to many more to come, but after six months of daily posting, I have decided that it might be time to shake things up a bit. November 26, 2011 brings with it a landmark event in the life of this project, for it is the first time that I have every posted a fan-submitted photograph instead of an actual painting or illustration. From the onset of this social experiment, I promised myself that WBS would focus only on original works of art and that no photography would be included. But over time, I began to wonder why I made this rule; I began to question the limitations that I had placed upon myself. I suppose that I had my reasons at the time, and to be honest, there is still a part of me that feels a bit apprehensive about broadening the focus of the project. At the same time, though, I simply can’t deny the power of this photograph.

Ultimately, I feel that this picture offers a much needed breath of fresh air. After dozens of wild, weird, and just plain silly pictures, it’s nice to get back to the heart of the matter, to refocus on what all of this is about. It’s time to recenter ourselves and take a long, hard look at this creature and realize just how magnificent and beautiful it truly is. I know that many times my posts seem a bit tongue-in-cheek and that some readers may not be able to accurately gauge my tone (Am I being serious or sarcastic?). But in the end, anyone who lays eyes upon this wolf will be able to truly trust my words when I say that this animal is awe-inspiring and exquisite in every way. This is what this project is all about- drawing attention to the arresting charm of a wild creature while exploring your own sense of creativity.

Thanks, Tami for reminding us of this. Also, just in case any of you are wondering, Tami took this photograph at a wolf habitat near her hometown of Guyton, Georgia. Also, if you’d like to see more of Tami’s fantastic work, check out here facebook page (here) and website (here).

Nov 25 2011

#209 “A Little Red in the Hood”

From Aaron

One of the most appealing qualities of those classic fairy tales from our youth is that they are familiar but fluid at the same time. We know them all, from The Tortoise and the Hare to Cinderella, but since their origins are usually mysterious, there seems to exist a universal sense of ownership that allows us to take these tales and mold them into very personal interpretations. In other words, the framework of the story is familiar, the individual details and embellishments lie completely in our own hands. When we become the story-teller, we have the unique opportunity to experience a certain feeling of tradition and nostalgia as well as a thrilling sense of freedom and individuality. And likewise, the listener is able to encounter a tale that is both recognizable and new.

This mind-bending illustration perfectly represents that innate desire to become a unique and masterful storyteller, even if the tale itself is one that has been heard a thousand times. With a little twist here and a slight bending of tradition there, the artist of this unparalleled work has created narrative art that is both traditional and unique. His work is relatable, but it is also groundbreaking and remarkably rare.

This astoundingly refreshing retelling allows us as viewers to take a stroll down memory lane and enter a new world at the same time. It offers a chance to relive a little piece of our childhood but also allows us to appreciate the truly individualistic nature of storytelling and explore the boundaries of the human imagination. And in the end perhaps these are the two most universal desires that exist within all of us: the desire for the comfort of routine and familiarity and the desire to be seen as a true individual.

So, while Little Red Riding Hood may not have packed a Glock or had four arms, this wild rendition of a classic tale possesses a special appeal that simply can’t be denied.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy a classic… with a new twist.

Nov 24 2011

#208 Contest Winner!

From Justin at The University of Missouri

Behold the vision of my wildest dream transformed into reality. The fruition of my efforts in collecting illustrations of wolves from global strangers could be considered complete if I were to hang it all up today and move on; for I have discovered an artist (or rather, he has discovered me) whose intuitive grasp of the power of the lobo is truly unrivaled. With that being said, ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to feast your eyes upon the twisted genius of a man caught in the throws of a wolf-fueled trip like no other. Witness for yourselves the creative grandeur of the “Willy Wonka of Wolves.” I give you… Justin.

Is there any doubt that this piece would be the ultimate winner of Wolves by Strangers’ November Contest? I should think not. This illustration really says it all; the amount of ground covered here is phenomenal. Urban mass appeal is married to the love of nature as wild wolves from deep within primal forests take the world’s cities by storm. Various forms of infrastructure fall beneath their pounding paws; sonic howls topple the tallest buildings; radioactive beasts that were formerly deemed our worst nightmare pale in comparison to these heavenly beasts who rain down a hellish onslaught of all we held dear. But simultaneously, the beauty of their sheer power and the awe that their intrinsic ferocity inspires is pleasantly chilling. Savage or not, the grace and majestic of these creatures is thrilling. They are larger than life, and they will not be denied. These wolves are pictured as you have never seen them before, but simultaneously, there’s something familiar here that just seems to right.

Thank you, Justin, for opening our eyes to a wild world of imagination. Start surfing to pick out the new wolf t-shirt that’s coming your way! You deserve it.

Nov 23 2011

#207 “Transcendental Variety”

From Colin in Chattanooga, Tennessee

There are many aspects of this illustration that I find significant and intriguing, but two of the most prevalent features that speak to me are the inherent ideas of transcendentalism and variety that are on display here. Seeing as how the illustration depicts (in some ways) a creature that is a conglomeration of other animals, it seems that the picture comments on the diversity of life in the world around us. But at the same time, when we take a closer look, we see common threads throughout almost all forms of life. We see characteristics and features that are almost universal to all creatures, whether they be wolf, duck, tiger, horse or human.

In the end, as I lay my eyes upon this drawing which is clearly a celebration of life and nature, I am reminded of two of my favorite quotes by some of the world’s leading scientific minds. Ruminate on these thoughts and enjoy!

“I think nature’s imagination is so much greater than man’s.
She’s never going to let us relax.”
- Richard Feynman

“We are all connected:
To each other, biologically; To the earth, chemically; To the rest of the universe atomically.”
- Neil deGrasse Tyson

Nov 22 2011

#206 “Spinning a Fantasy”

From Hannah in Chattanooga, Tennessee

I’m not sure what the inspiration behind this piece was, but whenever I look at this curious illustration, I can’t help but to be reminded of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s famous poem “The Lady of Shalott.” In case you’re wondering, there aren’t any wolves in the poem, but it’s not the anthropomorphic lobo in the illustration that calls to mind the Victorian work; it’s the unusually romantic web of colors that the wolf is spinning.

You see, in “The Lady of Shalott” the lady is a mystical maiden who is cursed to reside in a castle tower on an island in the middle of a river that leads down to Camelot. The exact origins of her curse are unknown, but the malediction placed upon her stipulates that she must never look upon the world beyond the tower, lest she die. However, in an unusual twist, the lady possesses an enchanted mirror that shows her a twistedly beautiful version of all the wonderful sights and sounds of the world outside which the lady then weaves into a magical web. This, in essence, is how she lives her life. Then one day a troop of knights passes by on the banks of the river, heading down to Camelot, and there among them is Lancelot, the most charming and handsome knight to have ever lived. After taking one glance at the magnificent knight in her magical mirror, the lady is so enticed by his handsomeness that she simply must lay eyes upon the genuine article. She passes across the room, peers out of the window, and sees the striking knight with her own eyes. With this, the curse is called down upon her, and the lady knows that she is to die. In preparation for her death, she takes a boat and writes her name upon it; using the boat as her coffin, she floats down to Camelot where all the knights approach her with fear and trepidation. All that is but one: Lancelot, the knight of honor and valor approaches the body of lifeless lady and comments on her beauty. And that is where the tale ends.

Once again, I can’t say for certain that this illustration is a conscious allusion to the story, but there are certain elements that seem to fit: the lady, the web of colors, etc. But in the end, I’m left wondering if this illustration is a comment about wolves and their misunderstood nature and the curse of persecution upon them, or if this picture is more of an introspective piece. Perhaps the artist views herself as an outcast like the lady of Shalott because of her love for the lobo. I guess the world may never know the answers to these questions, but that’s ok. Not knowing the answers allows us to weave our own web of fantasy and conjecture, a web of imagination of creativity. And in the end, I suppose that is the most important thing.

Nov 21 2011

#205 “Nightcall”

From Samreen in the United Kingdom

There are only so many words that one can use to describe the beauty of a wolf in silhouette, poised atop a stony precipice, howling towards the nighttime sky. To put it another way, there’s a mystery about that nightcall of the lonesome lobo that defies description and inspires undefinable emotions. Keeping this in mind, I suppose that sometimes it’s best to simply let the eyes and ears do their business and allow the rest take care of itself.

I have featured a couple of Samreen’s works before, and certainly each is special in its own way. I hope you enjoy another piece from this talented young artist as well, but in order to do get the full experience of this illustration, you’ll have to leave your assumptions, reservations and predispositions behind. This wolf pose may be a classic one, but I hope you’ll be inspired to experience it as is if you were seeing it for the first time. To aid in your experience, I decided to pair the picture with a song by one of my favorite electronic artists: Kavinsky. The songs is appropriately titled “Nightcall.” Enjoy!

Nov 20 2011

#204 “I Guess He’d Rather be in Arizona”

From a stranger in Phoenix, Arizona or somewhere in Alaska

The whole notion of politics has always been a bit foreign to me. What I don’t know about policies, laws, legislatures, etc. could fill a book. Well, in fact, it could probably fill several books. I have no idea what the Alaska State Legislature would have done on March 15, 2011 or why there was no session that day. I also have no idea who the artist behind this intriguing piece is or where he/she is from. Obviously, most would think that the artist is from Alaksa and that he/she is employed somewhere in the political realm there. This was my guess at first, too, but when I studied the postmarks on the envelope, I saw that this package was shipped out of Phoenix, Arizona, and not from Alaska. The whole incident is truly mysterious.

I have spent quite a bit of time wracking my brain over this enigmatic situation, and overall I have come to realize that I will probably never know for certain who is behind this simple illustration. But this ok. This doesn’t concern me greatly because in my pondering, I dreamt up a scenario that is probably more pleasing than the truth, and that is just fine by me. The details of the story are a bit hazy in my mind, but I can clearly see a young dreamer who had grown up in priveleged America until he simply decided he could take no more structure and decided to pack his bags and move to Alaska. He wanted to take his life into his own hands. He wanted to breathe fresh air and leave the smog and commercialism of the big cities behind. He said goodbye to his friends and family. He promised to write, and then in a very exciting but much tamer style than Christopher McCandless, this young and free-spirited idealist moved to Alaska. Once there he quickly found work at an outfitters shop or something similar, and for several years he was content to walk upon the state’s unbeaten paths and gaze upon the fine scenery that Alaska had to offer. All in all he was satisfied with the simple life that he had established for himself. He was truly living his dream…

Then slowly but surely, like a blemish rising to the surface of his skin, a subtle but unmistakable doubt began to creep into his mind. He couldn’t quite place its origins. He certainly didn’t want to return to the cities of his youth, but a voice whispered fiendishly in his ear that he was wasting his life, that he was cut out for something greater, something more than just floating along aimlessly from day to day. The young man began to become involved in his local community; he took on projects and became a bit of an activist. He was happy again for a time with his new ventures, and he accomplished much. But then one thing led to another: a hobby became a job, a job became a career, and then a career became a cage. The man looked around him one day to find that he had aged ten years and that the silk tie around his neck really did feel like a noose, no matter how cliche it sounded. The second time it took much more effort than the first, but ultimately he found the strength within himself to start afresh for the second time in his life. He traded the cold winds of Alaska for the still, dry heat of Arizona. He hoped that this time he would find lasting peace. And who knows? Perhaps he will… Perhaps he did…

But once again this is all romanticized conjecture. Pure fantasy. In the end, I’m not even sure why I came up with all of this, but I think that it may lead back to a special affinity that I had in my youth for John Denver (which was instilled in me by my father) and his focus on the seemingly inherent need within all of us to seek refuge and rejuvenation in nature. One song in particular seems to fit well with this whole story. It’s called “I Guess He’d Rather be in Colorado.” Take a listen and see what you think…

Nov 19 2011

#203 “Beautiful”

From Chen in Israel

For those of you who aren’t aware, the name “Chen” means “beautiful” in the Hebrew language.

Chen and I met randomly as I was playing around on the Internet, looking for strangers to contribute their original wolf art to this project. If I remember correctly, she was a bit apprehensive at first, citing the fact that she did not consider herself to be a very talented artist. Well, as you can see (and as is often the case with the humble), Chen’s level of self-awareness and her own analysis of her skill level are clearly inaccurate. This wolf is the very namesake of Chen herself and can only be described as truly “beautiful.”

But what is even more beautiful than the artistic rendering of this marvelous creature is the spirit of benevolence with which it was offered up. The Internet is a often a refuge for depraved predators seeking innocent victims. As a result, Chen’s willingness to hear out my request displayed a natural trust and goodwill that is hard to come by in this day and age and offers a fresh breeze of relief in a world that often times feels like a ship on a stormy sea in a world blown clear of love.

Thanks for offering up your “beautiful” spirit, Chen. As I often say in the email replies that I sent to contributors, this project has become a true passion of mine, but it is only possible because of the kindness and generosity of talented strangers such as yourself.

Thanks very much, and God bless.

Nov 18 2011

#202 “Coco”

From Coco in British Columbia, Canada

Knowing that the name “Coco” is French for “little pet,” one might natural expect that an artist with this moniker would produce an illustration with lofty themes of innocence and purity. Perhaps a mother wolf coddling her young might be appropriate, or maybe even a transcendental vision of a human and a wolf frolicking together in a field of heather, communing with each other in perfect harmony. But as you can see from the illustration above, assumptions don’t always translate into realities, and sometimes our expectations can be shattered so wildly that our minds are left reeling with the difficult task of reconciling our predictions with actuality.

This wolf, although not overtly engaged in any particular scene of violence, is one of the most frightening that I have received. He is not depicted in profile or presented at a distance. This wolf is up close, personal, and in your face. There’s no denying his presence as he locks eyes with the viewer, his fangs and jowls smoking with bloody execution as if he has just finished unseaming fresh victims from the naves to the chops. He is overtly dangerous, chillingly ominous, and certainly menacing.

When considering exactly how I would go about constructing this post, I decided early on that I wanted to pair this illustration with a wolf-related song that was just as sinister and forbidding as the picture. I started researching dark and gloomy werewolf-related compositions and seemed to be having no luck, but all of a sudden the lupine gods stepped in, and with a random youtube click, I had stumbled upon a werewolf melody that was too applicable to be denied. First of all the name of the artist is Cocorosie. I’m sure you can see the connection between the name of the musical artist and the name of the artist behind this illustration. Secondly, this song, entitled “Werewolf,” seems to accurately encapsulate the full experience that Coco offers in her picture. When you listen to the song, you’ll notice a strangely conflicted combination of sweetness and savagery that somehow seems to works all too well. There is an innocence in the voice, tone, and musicality that is very enticing, but the lyrics and theme of the song are undeniably disturbing and fit this illustration like a murderous glove.

Nov 17 2011

#201 “Wolf vs. Wolf”

From Andrew at the University of Missouri

The cyclical nature of interest in the wolf is a phenomenon that any true wolf enthusiast will find terribly fascinating. In many ways it seems that we are currently residing in a sort of “Wolf Renaissance” that is reminiscent of that of the early 1980s. I’m not sure about the rhyme or reason behind it, but the early 80s were a time when the wolf was center stage in a variety of media entertainment outlets. Taking just popular movies as an example, all of the following titles were all produced between the years 1980 and 1985: Teen Wolf, Silver Bullet, Wolfen, The Howling, Never Cry Wolf, The Night of the Werewolf, The Company of Wolves, and An American Werewolf in London. Now, in the last ten years, we haven’t necessarily had a full-blown resurgence of interest in the wolf, but there are signs that a fresh rebirth of lupine enthusiasm is rising like a full moon. Notice the following bits of wolf phenomena as examples: The striking success of the “3 Wolf Moon” t-shirt (seen here), the current obsession with the character of Jacob from theTwilight series, the creation of the Teen Wolf television show on MTV, the cultural phenomenon that is Shaun Ellis and the lifestyle he lives, as well as a variety of other pop culture references to wolves that are beginning to appear everywhere from The Hangover to songs by Let’s Buy Happiness, Bon Iver, The Good Natured, My Chemical Romance, and on and on. Also, going back to movies for a second, all of these titles were released in the last few several years: Dog Soldiers, The Ginger Snaps Series, Underworld, Big Bad Wolf, Blood and Chocolate, The Werewolf Hunter: The Legend of Romasanta, Werewolf: The Devil’s Hound, A Mexican Werewolf in Texas, Rid Riding Hood, and the list could go on…

But all of this makes me wonder what might happen if some of these famous wolves and wolf warriors were to meet upon the field of battle. Andrew’s illustration also seems to bring this idea to mind and causes us to speculate would might happen if these characters were to face off. What could one expect from a battle between the preacher/werewolf from Silver Bullet and Selene from Underworld? Who would you place your bets on in a battle to the death between Marsha Quist from The Howling and Sgt. Harry Wells of Dog Soldiers?

But the pièce de résistance of any discussion of wolf battles throughout the ages would no doubt come down to Scott Howard from the original Teen Wolf and Jacob Black from the Twilight series. Andrew really nailed it with this epic match up, and in the end, I’m not sure if there is a clear victor in this battle of lobos. While Jacob may be downplayed by modern wolf enthusiasts for taking center stage in a series that commands mostly teenage girls as fans, no one can deny his physical prowess. Also, in reference to Scott Howard, he certainly has the cool factor in his back pocket, but is this alone enough for him to steal the victory? Who’s to say? Maybe no one could accurately predict what might happen if these two teenage werewolves were to ever cross paths, but one thing’s for sure: it would be a battle you wouldn’t want to miss.

Thanks, Andrew, this epic matchup has certainly given us some food for thought.

Nov 17 2011

Oct./Nov. Contest: Free Wolf T-Shirt!

That’s right, friends. It’s time for another WBS contest, and this time the stakes are higher than ever.

The winner of this contest will receive the t-shirt of his/her choice from the fantastic selection at You can see all of their unbelievable t-shirts here.

The contest will run for all snail mail and email submissions between Oct. 24 and Nov. 24, 2011. All you have to do is send in your illustration with a valid return address. Works will be judged based upon creativity, originality and general awesomeness, and the winner will be revealed on Thanksgiving Day. This contest is available to domestic as well as international contributors.

Good Luck to All!

See the Contact/Submit! page for snail mail and email addresses.

(Check below to see just  a few of the awesome t-shirt designs available at

Nov 16 2011

#200 “Fear and Loathing in Diablo”

From Christina in Diablo, California

Words like wild, weird, and trippy just aren’t enough to sum up this mind-bending illustration from Christina. It’s like Day of the Dead meets Journey to the Center of the Earth or perhaps like visiting your local zoo while trapped in the grip of some twistedly violent drug. There’s a part of me that wishes that this illustration was in color so that the full effect of its bizarre nature could be realized, but at the same time there’s another part of me that is not sure if my brain could handle so much stimulation. At the same, time, though, when we realize that this illustration was the work of a 13-year-old artist, the mind switches instantly from an association with acid trips and spirit guides to a sense of wonder at the uninhibited imagination of a child. Willy Wonka and Dr. Seuss have nothing on Christina; she is in a wild and wonderful class all of her own here.

One of the first things that I noticed when I received this picture was that it reminded me of one of those  optical illusions that distort your vision when stare at them for a few seconds. I quickly brought one up on youtube and then examined this illustration while my perspective was altered. I can’t accurately describe exactly what happened, but it was akin to some sort of out of body experience that completely lucid at the same time.

I have posted the illusion below so that you may experience this fascinating head change for yourself, but be warned, only those with a high level of mental resistance and a strong psychological fortitude can attempt this without being violently ushered into insanity. Try it for yourself, but don’t say you weren’t warned!

Nov 15 2011

#199 “Praiseworthy”

From a stranger in Brooklyn, New York

It always hurts my heart a little bit whenever I encounter a piece of artwork that the artist seems to feel the need to apologize for. Just the fact that an individual has taken pen to paper and created something unique and original should be enough to illicit praise and admiration from all of us. Producing art is always an action that is risky, and simply because we live in a society that says to us that “anything but the best is worthless” doesn’t make that statement true.

I quite admire this wolf. I think it’s interesting and unique and that it has a certain flare which is fun, optimistic, and hopeful. Yes. I like it. I like it alot, and I certainly do not think it “sucks.”

So to you, stranger in Brooklyn, I encourage you to take to heart the words below once said by John Steinbeck, and I urge you to keep your head up and be proud of everything you do. It’s so easy to live life in the shadows without taking risks, but you have stepped out into the sunshine, and the results of your labors are truly magnificent.

“Unless a reviewer has the courage to give you unmitigated praise,
I say forget the bastard.”

~ John Steinbeck

Nov 14 2011

#198 “Puff Puff Pass”

From Evan in Chattanooga, Tennessee

First of all, please allow me to qualify this post by saying that I do not intend to insinuate that Evan, the fine artist behind this picture, is a drug user. Secondly, I would like to point out that I am not a drug user myself. Thirdly, I am not meaning to imply that this illustration is necessarily about drug use; I was simply led to this idea based upon the fact that the pictured wolf seems to be flying through the air and passing by a smiling moon while smoking some unknown substance.

Ok, now that all of that is out of the way, let us begin:

For decades a sinister gateway drug has held the minds of this nation’s youth hostage. It has led its victims down paths of unspeakable destruction and guided them into states of twisted depravity beyond description. It has caused parents to carry out lives of constant fear and worry that young Jimmy or Sally might fall victim to its dreaded grasp.

Marijuana, you say? Don’t make me laugh. This powerful potion is none other than the very spirit of the wolf, itself. Harder than any drug, more addictive than any chemical, more potent than any poison, the spirit of the wolf crawls into its victim’s veins and courses through the bloodstream with a growling passion. One hit and you’re hooked. One drag and you’ll be howling for more. Wolves: nature’s most dangerous narcotic.

Ok… so wolves technically aren’t a real drug, but a love for the lobo can be highly addictive. So addictive, in fact, that even drawing a picture of one seems to have the power to open the floodgates for a whole variety of drug-themed wolf artwork.

But what can we gather from so much lupine art with inebriation-inspired themes that has been collected since the inception of this project? And more specifically, what can we conclude about the artists of these works based on their somewhat disturbing focus? In other words, if an individual draws a picture of a wolf smoking a joint, does it mean that the artist himself is a drug user? I think the answer is not necessarily in the affirmative, but this option also shouldn’t totally be ruled out.

In many ways the fact that the Wolves by Strangers project initially gained popularity with subculture-seeking college students might naturally lend itself to an association with drug use. Also, on a slightly related note, this project focuses on a creature that in many ways exists on the fringe of society. The wolf is a misunderstood and lonesome animal and is widely viewed as a loner and outcast. In the end, I suppose these particular artists might view the depiction of drugs as a way to showcase this notion. For many who make up today’s jaded youth, drugs function as a mild form of rebellion and a chance to escape a society whose expectations are continually on the rise. So in the end, the fact that young drug users are drawn to WBS and would picture drug use in their artwork just makes good sense. But it also doesn’t necessarily have to be true… It’s just a theory.

But whether all of these conjectures hit the mark dead on or don’t even come close, wolves like this one are still, like, totally awesome, man…

Nov 13 2011

#197 “Classwork”

From a stranger in China

Over the past several months I’ve seen wolves printed on a wide variety of canvasses. Artwork drawn on everything from napkins to tampon boxes to Post-It Notes has arrived in my post office box, but never have I received a picture of a wolf that was drawn on the surface of a desk in a Chinese classroom. I guess there’s a first time for everything.

One of the most interesting aspects of this picture is that it possesses both temporary as well as timeless qualities. The picture certainly reflects a level of talent that is praiseworthy; the viewer can easily tell that the artist has a well-defined skill set when it comes to drawing wolves. And so it is a bit of a shame to realize that this wolf will soon be erased or washed away (if it hasn’t been already). But at the same time, the illustration has been preserved with a thoughtful and well-timed photograph that will preserve it for ages to come. Even though the original work will be lost to annals of time, the photograph will endure.

On another note, when I look at this picture, I’m also struck by the universal nature of artistic expression by children, especially in the classroom environment. At one point we were all children working our way up through the grades, anxiously awaiting the day that we would be finished with our formal schooling and free to take the world storm and follow our own individual desires. Along the way we all doodled on desks and scribbled in spiral notebooks and passed notes to friends and wasted time and flirted with the opposite sex. Things haven’t really changed that much, and I suppose they never will. Whether you’re in China or South Africa or the U.S., school is still school, and children are still children, and there will always be that need for distraction and that desire for a personal creative outlet.

But going back to that earlier point about this illustration being fleeting as well as permanent… I can’t help but be reminded of a sonnet by Edmund Spencer which seems to strike a similar thematic chord. Your homework tonight is to read this poem and discuss it with a friend. Now get to work!

One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away:
Again I wrote it with a second hand,
But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.
“Vain man,” said she, “that dost in vain assay,
A mortal thing so to immortalize;
For I myself shall like to this decay,
And eke my name be wiped out likewise.”
“Not so,” (quod I) “let baser things devise
To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:
My verse your vertues rare shall eternize,
And in the heavens write your glorious name:
Where whenas death shall all the world subdue,
Our love shall live, and later life renew.”

Nov 12 2011

#196 “Scarface”

From Linds in Chattanooga, Tennessee

“Say hello to my little friend!”

Regardless of the bright purple and yellow colors that make up this unique illustration, I still can’t help but to picture the disturbing scenes from the movie Scarface when I lay eyes upon this wolf. I remember that when I was in college, it was considered cool to have a special affinity for the movie Scarface. I, however, could never get to the point where I actually enjoyed watching the film. It’s not that I have an aversion to blood or violence; watching horror movies is actually one of my favorite ways to spend my free time. I’m not sure exactly what it is that makes me find the movie particularly disturbing (maybe it’s the initial scene that depicts a man being chopped up with a chainsaw), but whatever it is, it has stuck with me.

On a more symbolic note, when I consider the fact that Tony Montana had that telltale scar on his cheek, it causes me to think that the blemish must represent a previous life of pain and anguish that drove Tony to take drastic measures in his attempt to prove that he was someone who was worthy of respect. He simply couldn’t let go of the wrongs that had been done to him in the past, and as a result, his scars governed his focus in his present life and led him to a destructive future. Similarly, I’m not exactly sure how this particular wolf received this ghastly wound, but I can guess that the event was not a pretty one and that it has had a lasting impact on this beautiful creature. I do recognize that wolves live in a world in which violence is king and the law of predator/prey rules, but I also don’t think this should save us from pitying creatures that face adversity. While violence may sometimes be necessary, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it should be deemed as something pretty.

Also, taking a second look at this scarred wolf makes me realize that while some of us possess scars that are glaringly visible, others bear their scars on the inside. And just because a scar is no longer visible doesn’t necessarily mean that the pain has faded away. Maybe today we can be mindful of the scars of others (both visible and invisible) and maybe we can begin to heal… together.