Apr 2 2012

#338 Failure? Success?

From Rachel in Harrogate, Tennessee

Just as judgments about beauty are left uniquely in the eye of the beholder, so are appraisals of success and failure. Although Rachel makes a comment on her own piece suggesting that she views this work as a bit of an artistic debacle, I view the work as a triumph of creativity. Ducks, fish, whales and wolves swim together in a sea of imagination, each with its own unique voice and perspective on the interesting situation at hand. How could a work overflowing with so much inventiveness ever be anything but a complete success. In moments like these, I’m reminded of the words of Dale Carnegie who left us with this charge: “Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are the two surest stepping stones to success.”

Dec 28 2011

#242 “Penguin?”

From a stranger in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Well… I guess I’ll go ahead and address the elephant in the room… or the penguin, if you will. This picture is obviously not of a wolf, but at the same time, I love it just as much as any other illustration to arrive in the WBS post office box. While some may see this picture as an example of good-natured trolling. I see the work of a man who knows his skills and talents. I see the work of a man who chose to contribute his artwork even though the focus of the project was not his forte. I see a man who thinks outside the box, who is a pleasantly square peg in a round hole and who likes to shake things up a bit. So… while I don’t see a wolf when I look at this illustration, I do see something just as inspirational. And in the end, I guess that’s all that matters.

Dec 16 2011

#230 “Jordan”

From Jordan in Chattanooga, Tennessee

I believe that whether or not an artist consciously chooses to reveal her true self in her creations or whether she wishes to be deliberately mysterious and enigmatic, there will always be a hint of truth or a vein of authenticity that runs throughout her work. Not that Jordan would try to be purposefully deceptive- I know her personally, and I have always found her to be honest in the extreme. But I make these statements about the inherent truth in an artist’s work simply to say that I could picture no composition that is more representative of Jordan’s personality than what she has produced here. While the whole of her being could in no way be reduced down to a single picture, this work does serve as a nice summation of the nuances of her bright, quirky and endearing personality.

I have been out of contact with Jordan for quite a while, and strangely enough, this project has served as a means of reconnection between us. Although Jordan is not a stranger to me, the time apart has changed both of us, and as a result, when we talked just recently it was as if I was reconnecting with an old friend and meeting someone new all at once.

Probably one of the first things that the viewer will notice about this picture is the antique photograph that serves as a backdrop. Whether or not this picture is an actual heirloom of Jordan’s and holds personal significance, I can’t say for sure. But regardless, this photograph does possess at least some symbolic meaning. You see, Jordan is what you might call an “old soul.” Although she is young, she possesses a unique perspective on life and a wisdom that is typically only gained by people far beyond her years. A brief conversation with her will reveal to you a person whose worldview is one that is constantly curious but consciously deep and full of wonder. Just as the backdrop/photograph is careworn and old, Jordan is an individual who has known her fair share of hardship and has been through quite a bit in her relatively few years. But just as the photograph presents a young, seemingly carefree girl, Jordan also possesses a youthfulness and a thirst for life that is unrivaled by even the most vibrant of children. She has a zeal for new experiences and seeks to drink up all life has to offer, but at the same time she displays a maturity and a shrewdness of judgment that characterize a well developed sense of womanhood.

Moving on to the depiction of the wolf- Just as the lobo is presented in the foreground of this picture, Jordan’s social style and demeanor is up front as well. Like the wolf she is fearless and gallant, and she makes no bones about where she stands on certain issues or what her beliefs are. But as we all know, the wolf is also a mysterious creature that is as complicated and enigmatic as it is bewitching. It is changing and fickle but also marked by enduring characteristics of pride, freedom, and beauty.

And finally, the… um… tree thing(?) in the corner of the picture- In all honesty, I have no clue what this thing is or exactly what is going on here. But just as the other aspects of this picture shed light onto aspects of Jordan’s personality, so does this curious cartoon. As long as I have known Jordan, I have always pictured her mind to be an enchanted forest filled with whimsical thoughts and unique fantasies. Surely it is a place of magic and wonder where bizarre creatures of her own design mix and mingle with weird musings beyond comprehension. This addition to the picture is wild and unexpected, just like the artist herself.

In the end, I’m sure all of this just skims the surface of summing up Jordan as a person. Who can be defined by one picture or with just a few words? I’m sure that no one can, but ultimately the fact that Jordan took the time to create this beautiful work and send it to WBS does offer another hint to discovering who she is. It helps to prove that if nothing else, one simple word for her is accurate. And that word is… “friend.”

Thanks, Jordan.

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 8 2011

#192 “Battle Ready”

From a stranger in Bend, Oregon.

She-Ra meets The NeverEnding Story and Link meets The Lord of the Rings in the unique fantasy ride of epic, wolfy proportions. If this work is an intentional reference to any particular story or fantasy saga, I am at a loss to identify it, but in some ways I believe the mystery makes this piece all the more appealing. With the backstory left unknown, the viewer is free to fantasize about this magical realm in which sword-wielding, battle ready Amazonian princesses gallop atop pink, vambrace-wearing wolves in a quest for righteousness. The confident gaze of the sovereign warrior and optimistic demeanor of her lupine steed indicate that this pair is surely fighting for the cause of all that is good and just and that they will ultimately succeed. And in the end, perhaps there is a great lesson to be taken from this. Perhaps all of this suggests that if we are assured in our own abilities and resources and have a stable confidence, then we have no need to fear no matter who or what our enemy might be. But then again, this is all speculation. It may be the case that just the opposite is true- that the message is simply an encouragement to indulge our imaginations in a short vacation of pure and utter fantasy without having to search for meaning. Regardless of which of these options is the case, however, this picture is still inspiring and causes the mind to churn with tantalizing possibilities.

But no commentary on this illustration would be complete without pointing out the immense skill that was called upon during the work’s creation. The lines of brush, pen and pastel are frenzied and hectic and give off vibrations that buzz with energy while the unique color palette causes the eyes to exercise their full potential and the mind to reel with wonder at the groundbreaking combination of hues. It’s truly a sight to be hold, and beyond all doubt, the artistry at work here is just as amazing as the unique subject matter.

Congratulations, stranger. You’ve pushed the limits of our expectations, and we have all been rewarded by your efforts. This is one battle with a clear and rightful victor.

Oct 22 2011

#175 “Tie-Dye the Sky”

From Nancy in Kingstown, Rhode Island

Chattanooga is not necessarily a large city, but it’s still big enough that the lights from downtown are able to effectively block out most of the stars at night. It’s a sad thought, really, to know that right up above me is a whole array of brilliant lights twinkling away in a vast universe but that I can’t see them. At times I have traveled to a few places (Fort Defiance, AZ; The Grand Tetons in Wyoming; Segovia, Spain; backpacking trips in The Great Smoky Mountains) that are far enough removed from large urban environments so that I have been able to drink in the beauty of the nighttime sky undaunted, but this doesn’t happen often.

Every chance I get, I love to break away from the hustle and the bustle, from the nighttime sirens and streetlights, and stare up into that expansive blanket of glimmering diamonds, twinkling away into infinity. It makes one feel so small and yet so precious at the same time. Between these sacred glimpses, however, I must be content with my memories. But these wonderful recollections are often helped along with inspiring illustrations like Nancy’s here that help to anchor these thoughts of beauty into my mind. Thank you, Nancy, for painting the sky with a brush of imaginative color, for setting the sky on fire, for bringing it to life. It hangs above our heads every hour of everyday, but how often do we really appreciate it?

Oct 11 2011

#164 “Trippy”

From Laura in Everett, Washington

As a whole, this picture is difficult to describe, but at the same time, the longer I look at it, the more ideas for strange analyses and interesting interpretations come into my head. Every time I examine it, I notice something new, something more gripping than what I saw before. Ultimately, in an effort to try to put my feelings into words, I guess I would have to say that this piece is a kaleidoscopic rorschach of symmetrical ooze, breathing forth creative energy from every square inch. It bubbles with animated vitality and possesses a musicality that I have witnessed in very few other pieces. The smooth lines and effervescent shapes are soothing, but the barrage of color and shape combinations is also overwhelming, producing in the viewer a unique feeling of peacefulness and disquietude. It is mind-boggling different but strangely familiar. It is an elaborate depiction of a mirrored seraphim-inspired wolf, floating independently from time and space on the craziest ring of Saturn.

As I stare at the wonder that is this piece of artwork, I can’t help but here music in my head. As a result, I have decided to post for you three of my favorite music videos that I believe would serve as a fitting accompaniment for this unique piece of artwork, both in terms of the mood and feel of the music as well as in the uniqueness of their visual components.

#1:  MGMT  ”Electric Feel”
#2:  Julian Casablancas  ”11th Dimension”
#3:  Tommy Sparks  ”She’s Got Me Dancing”

Sep 21 2011

#144 “Spicy!”

From the fine graphic artists at Clipper Magazine

Variety truly is the spice of life…

There have been many pessimists over the recent weeks and months who have scoffed at this project. There are those who have turned up their noses and haughtily smirked at this “one-trick-pony” kind of social experiment. “Wolves?” they sneered, “Don’t you think that people will get sick of looking at the same old pictures of wolves all day? Why don’t you focus on something more interesting? Something with more variety?”

In response to these cynical killjoys, I choose today to offer a response that shows my position more clearly than words could ever tell it. Feast your eyes upon the glorious offering from these fine artists are Clipper Magazine and see for yourself just how much artistic variety the grand lobo may bestow upon those who have opened their minds and hearts to all this mesmerizing creature has to offer. Cynics be warned. Doomsters be damned. Your arguments fall upon the deaf ears of all those who have basked in the glory of these illustrations. Your attacks might as well be the babbles of droopy-eyed simpletons and halfwits.

And yet I do not condemn my critics too harshly. Unfortunately, as human beings who live in a fallible world and are often fallible ourselves, it is somewhat natural to be pulled into a spiral of negativity. Today, however, offers the opportunity for all of use to appreciate the wonderful heterogeneity of the lupine together. Join hands. Come together. Be a part of something larger than yourselves. Cast your reservations aside and join the ranks of the artistic lupine army.

Let’s take a quick glance at each of these illustrations and see just how much variety the world of lupine art has to offer.

#1 (by Zach): Notice the pathos present in the first picture. The sense of catharsis is poignant and striking here. The cleansing power of the tears of the wolf washes over the viewer, creating a depth of vicarious emotion that will not soon be forgotten.

#2 (by Ryan): Pop culture at its finest. The wolf is made easily accessible to the next generation of lupine enthusiasts in this picture of Justin Bieber wearing a wolfskin cap. There is an element of humor and optimism here and a message that the wolf resides in all of us. You don’t have to strip away the fabric of society to find the wolf accessible; it is here and waiting for us if we will only reach out and grab it. Hey kids, wolves are cool!

#3 (by Luke): The classic wolf silhouette placed in front of this glowing moon reminds us of the inherent wildness of this marvelous creature while the poetic prose underneath draws attention to the beauty of the natural world and reminds us that the wolf is both savage and beautiful. This picture is a quintessential representation of the wolf but one that never gets old- a classic dish that never loses its flavor.

#4 (Isaiah): Weird. Twisted. Surreal. This wolf takes elements of innocence and turns them on its head in a wild ride that combines elements of childhood wonder and mixes them with a strange and imaginative sense of terror. It’s like Stephen King’s “It” meets “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” It’s like Loony Toons on crack. No. Wait. It’s like “Fear and Loathing” meets The Island of Misfit Toys meets “Natural Born Killers.” Yeeeaaaah. That’s it.

#5 (by Jake): For those of you who don’t recognize this picture, please allow me to introduce you to Wolf Link. Wolf Link is an alternate form of the popular gaming character which he (Link) is transformed into in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. When Link enters the Twilight Realm, he changes from his normal Hylian form into a sacred beast. The significance of this? Well, simply put, not only does this wolf picture appeal to the classic NES fanboy in all of us, it also represents the magical and enchanted side of this magnificent creature. This illustration accurately presents the notion that the wolf is a creature of wonder that may never be fully understood; it is continually shrouded in mystery and is often associated with the fantastically elusive notion of transmogrification.

#6 (by Danielle): The wolf takes a walk on the wild side in this somewhat racy depiction. Bringing new meaning to the word “untamed,” this illustration demonstrates the uninhibited nature of the wolf in a playfully risque scenario that could cause even the wildest of wolf enthusiasts to blush. Did I hear someone say the words, “Party Animal”? I think you’ve found her here!

Ahhh…. Variety…. So spicy……

Sep 4 2011

#127 “Corbin & Josh”

From Corbin and Josh in Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear Corbin and Josh (and Wolfie),

Thank you very much for your beautiful illustrations. I am extremely impressed with the Sonic Dubstep Wolf that eats evil and crushes peace. He certainly seems to be quite the super-wolf. Although dubstep is not my favorite genre of electronic music (I prefer electro-funk and future-synth/nu-disco), the idea of a wolf that is able produce the wawawawawawawa effect of dubstep is extremely interesting, and I certainly hope that I get the chance to meet him someday.

Your additional wolf drawing of the lonesome lupine standing in the snow is very pleasing as well. I feel like the peacefulness and quietude display in this piece creates a nice juxtaposition when viewed in conjunction withe the “rowdier” illustration of the Sonic Dubstep Wolf. All things considered, both these illustrations are special to me for a variety of reasons, but instead of waxing eloquent on the nature of the illustrations, themselves, I would prefer to answer the questions that you thoughtfully included in your letter.

1. What is your favorite type of wolf?

Asking this question is tantamount to asking a loving mother to choose which child is her favorite. In truth, all wolves are precious to me in their own way. I love the classic universality of the Grey Wolf. I love the dark mystery of the Hudson Bay Wolf. I love the earnest look of the Interior Alaskan Wolf, the purity of the Mackenzie Valley Wolf, the primal nature of the Honshu Wolf, and the strangeness of the Golden Jackal. I love them one. I love them all. I’m sorry that I cannot be more specific than this in identifying my favorite. I suppose I never will be able to pinpoint one wolf that reigns supreme among them all in my heart, but I can tell you that lately I have been particularly drawn to studying the Alexander Archipelago Wolf.

2. Do you know a lot about wolves?

I wish I could say that I was an expert in all things lupine, but this is simply not true. My obsession largely lies with their aesthetic appeal, although I must say that I do find the scientific study of them very intriguing. In some ways I am afraid to delve too deeply into the realm of objective wolf education. While I do (perhaps) possess a lupine knowledge that surpasses that of your average person, I am afraid that studying too deeply would cause a portion of my passion to be sacrificed. In short, one of the aspects of the wolf that I enjoy most is its mystery, and at this point, I am simply not ready to give up that alluring secretive appeal for cold, hard fact.

Thanks again, Corbin and Josh. I hope these answering have been satisfying. Please write back soon.

Post Scriptum: I hope you enjoyed the picture of the wolf that I sent to you in return.


Aug 14 2011

#106 “Indescribable”

From Jessie (?) in Chattanooga, TN

If you are a frequent reader of this blog, I am sure you are familiar with the fact that I enjoy analyzing and responding to each individual submission that comes my way. I have, however, discovered that sometimes there simply are no words.

With that being said, I can muster only one simple response for Jessie, the demented genius behind this mind-bending masterpiece: thank you. Consider my mind successfully blown. Perhaps someday I’ll have the intellect and creativity to wrap my feeble brain around your otherworldly illustration, but for today, I will leave the analysis of your work in more capable hands. Please don’t take this as neglect; it is just the opposite. I respect your work to much to degrade with an inferior interpretation.

Carry on my creative friend. Carry on.


Jul 22 2011

#83 “Huh?”

From Jeremy in Atlanta, Georgia

Just one question for you to ponder today.

Who is more strange: the man who collects pictures of wolves drawn by strangers -or- the man who draws a tiny wolf in the corner of a Post-It Note, wads it into a ball, places it an envelope with a short, scribbled through copy of an Allen Ginsberg poem on the back and mails it to the first man?

Jul 10 2011

#71 “Beyond Words”

From Owen in Cambridge, England.

Sometimes an artistic work comes along that is lightyears beyond what any audience would have anticipated and completely revolutionizes the art world as we know it. These works are so rare, so special, so groundbreaking and important, that they often possess the power to bring people to tears but also drive others to the point of madness. So… feast your eyes on this post if you dare, for today I deliver unto you just such a work.

Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the sketch that will define the euphoric dreams and worst nightmares of an entire generation. I give you the brainchild of a man in the twisted throes of a beautifully artistic seizure. I give you the bastard love-child of Salvador Dali and Dr. Seuss, of Andy Warhol and Where’s Waldo?, of Alan Moore and Jackson Pollock.

I give you… the elegantly disturbing artwork of a man simply known as Owen.

What dark reaches of his brain was Owen forced to explore in order to bring about a piece with such a unique perspective on the wolf? In what realm of surreality did he delve? Did he perhaps wade too deeply in the swamp of a perverse imagination? Examine this work and dare to decide for yourself. Before you lies a world of mechanized madness, of nerdy wolf octopi, of creatures beyond description, of things which cannot be believed and hitherto have not been conceived.

It is yet unclear what the history books of tomorrow will share regarding this revolutionary artwork of today, but I challenge you this: remember this hour, remember the moment that you laid eyes upon this freak of the art world, so that years later as your grandchildren gather at the feet of your hovering jet-powered rocking chair, you will be able to tell them of this momentous day, the day you first made contact with the work of Owen.

Jul 6 2011

#67 “Wolf Wackiness”

From a group of strangers in Georgia.

There’s a lot to be said about the insanity that is apparent in these illustrations and a lot of conjecture that could be presented here in relation to them. Perhaps these pictures are the result of imaginations which simply ran wild, or maybe they represent the whimsical fancy of artistic children. On the other hand, could these illustrations possibly be the offspring of brains that veered off the tracks of normality in a more serious manner? Are they the deranged product of sick minds steeped in an unhealthy surrealism?

The world may never know the answers to these questions, but whenever I encounter something as wild and weird and these pictures, I like to reflect upon the words of one of the most strange and unique writers of all time, Stephen King, who said, “I think that we’re all mentally ill. Those of us outside the asylums only hide it a little better – and maybe not all that much better after all.”

With that being said, I think I’ll go fix myself a heaping bowl of ice-cold Wolf Cream.