Apr 15 2012

#351 “Twilight”

From a stranger in Chattanooga, Tennessee

For the record, this is the first illustration featuring a Twilight character that I have received from a college student enrolled in a sophomore level history class who likes to doodle on her notes. I just hope she waited until after the test to send this in…

Dec 4 2011

#218 “Patience”

From John at the University of Missouri

Patience truly is a virtue, and no one knows that better than John. While I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, John has been patiently waiting for his illustrations to appear on wolvesbystrangers.com for 218 days, that’s basically every single day since website has been in existence. And if you want to get technical about it, seeing as how he submitted these illustrations several days before the website was even launched, he has actually been waiting for 240 days. I sometimes lose my cool when the drive-thru line has more than 3 cars in it! To have the dogged patience and sense of perseverance that John possesses… what a blessing that would be. What a lesson can be learned here. What an example has been set.

But also, I must say to the viewing audience that I think these pieces have been worth the wait. They seem to represent a spontaneity and impulsiveness that is certainly a key to the success of this project. Contained within these simple lines is an excited willingness to participate in something new and something unusual and a zealous thirst for life that cannot be quenched. But another feature of these illustrations that truly touches my heart is the sincerity and selflessness of their construction. As I said earlier, wolvesbystrangers.com had not been launched when John submitted these illustrations to me, therefore he could have no real desire for recognition and no expectations of attention being drawn to himself based on his participation. He was simply doing a favor for a stranger who has hopefully now become a friend. It was a strange favor, yes indeed, but that didn’t matter to John. He didn’t feel that it was his place to judge. He simply obliged the request with love and goodwill, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Turning to the illustrations, themselves, one will notice wolf-related themes that run the gamut of those typically presented by the Wolves by Strangers project. The first illustration seems to reference this project’s mysterious and enigmatic aspects. Just as my identity is still unknown to most, John’s first submission to the project was one that played upon the ideas of secrets and riddling. The second illustration, which pictures a smiling wolf, is no doubt an allusion to the joy that this project brings not only to me but also to those who participate. While the concept might sound a bit unorthodox at first, participation in WBS is sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face. The third picture is significant because of its topical nature. With the holidays upon us, what better time would there be to display this seasonally relevant illustration of a wolf and a snowman reveling in the inherent joys of Christmas time. And finally, no small collection of lupine artwork would be complete without some reference to the wolf as a predator or natural combatant. This last illustration places the wolf back into his natural environment of the competitive wild, where he is forced to feast upon others for his own survival. It’s predator vs. prey in this simple illustration that explores the true nature of survival.

In closing, I’d just like to say again that I appreciate John’s patience and that I hope this post has been worth his wait. Thanks again, John. Best wishes!

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…

Jun 20 2011

#51 “Zero Tolerance”

From Jennifer at the University of Georgia.

Dear Jennifer,

First of all, I would like to sincerely thank you for the contribution of your wolf illustration. Every single picture that I receive is valuable and special in its own way, and all wolves are equal in my eyes.

Ok. Now that that’s over with I am going to severely scold you for what I believe is a blatant case of plagiarism. Come on, Jennifer, you’re a student at the prestigious University of Georgia. Surely your professors would not stand for you to take shortcuts such as this. It doesn’t even matter if you aren’t a very talented artist; all that I’m asking for is that you put forth your best effort. Now really, Jennifer, does that sound too hard? I didn’t think so.

I know you might be wondering how I knew this picture was not an original. Well, it wasn’t too difficult. By calling upon my vast knowledge of wolf illustrations, I instantly knew that this picture looked familiar. Also, I noticed that the construction of the lines seemed seemed slightly irregular, almost as though they had been traced. From there, it was only a matter of conducting a simple Google search, and within seconds I had stumbled upon the image displayed below.

You know this isn’t the kind of work you want to be known for. I am going to let you off with a warning this time, but I don’t want you to forget this conversation. And of course, I’ll be expecting you to “redo” this assignment.


Dr. “J”


Jun 19 2011

#50 “Airwolf”

From Jason in Georgia.

A couple of days ago I posted a picture from Tam in the UK that referenced the American television show Airwolf (1984-1987). Today’s artful illustration from Jason in Georgia takes its inspiration from the same source. I must admit that I was not familiar with this television series before receiving these pictures, and it is a complete mystery to me as to how I could have missed this “far out” tv series. Having grown up during the time period that the show aired, it seems that I would at least have heard of it, but nonetheless, these illustrations struck no immediate chord with me, and as a result I was forced to research the television show online.

My original plan for this post had been to discuss some of the details of the series, but after listening to the theme song a few times, I realized that this musical masterpiece is where my focus should lie. You see, I have recently become completely enamored with synthesized music from the 1980s and modern music of the same style which is inspired by this time period. This song represents everything I love about this genre of music. It contains strong repeating themes with slight variation and a heavy percussive beat, it is highly synthesized, it contains ominous drones but also features inspirational and optimistic high notes, and finally it simply makes me want to speed down the interstate in a muscle car wearing a white blazer/pastel t-shirt combo paired with dark aviator sunglasses.

Going back to the illustration for a moment, you can see how the picture goes hand in hand with the Airwolf theme song and everything else we hold true about this fantastic decade: the wolf’s strong body language and cocky smirk is reminiscent of the “Me” generation, while the coolly authoritative uniform displays classic 1980s machismo and an emphasis on presenting oneself as “rad” and “boss.” Also, even though this picture is in black and white, it is speaks of the action and drama that defined 1980s entertainment.

This picture is truly the perfect complement to this awesome television show theme song.

On another note, before this post is concluded, I want to share with you a short list of some of my favorite modern songs that seem to be inspired by the music and culture of the 80s. If you like the Airwolf theme song below, check out these other hip tracks as well:

FM Attack: “Old School Daze” and “Dreamer”

Anoraak: “Cloud Rain Love”

College: “Teenage Color”

Electric Youth: “Faces” (From the Valerie and Friends album)

Futurecop!: “Tonight’s Hero”

Grum: “Through the Night” and “Cybernetic”

Kavinsky: “Wayfarer” and “Testarossa Autodrive”

Lazerhawk: “Overdrive”