Nov 11 2011

#195 “Hipster Wolf”

From Amanda in Chattanooga, Tennessee

It’s a strange question as to why hipsters seem to be so drawn to wolves. I suppose that since wolves seem to operate on the fringe of the natural world, hipsters are innately intrigued by their uniqueness and mystery and their unusual combination of loner reputation and deeply social communities.

All of this makes sense until you start to consider the possibility that the average hipster’s interest in the wolf might simply be ironic. In some people’s eyes, the donning of a wolf t-shirt is only reserved for backwoods country bumpkins and southern yokels who are ignorant of more sophisticated fashion trends. The hipster then, in an attempt to show his ability to transcend all societal boundaries and to prove that he exists outside of social norms and expectations, wears the wolf shirt in an attempt to show that he is simply too cool to care about what others might think. And in the end, his ultimate goal is to confound the audience he desperately seeks and to make everyone wonder whether he truly likes wolves or if he could care less about them and just threw on this old t-shirt because he’s “too cool to care.”

But in the end, whether the hipster genuinely appreciates the wolf or whether he simply endorses the creature out of a narcissistic and self-indulgent sense of irony doesn’t really matter. In my eyes, every hipster that throws on a wolf t-shirt is bringing about more awareness of the animal whether he intends to or not, and ultimatley this is all that is important to me.

But before I end this post, and before I condemn the hipster too much, I must admit that the entire WBS project was in some ways the result of a semi-ironic wolf t-shirt collection that I started a long while ago in an effort to playfully mortify my fashion-minded wife. It’s true. I can’t deny it. My interest in wolves was at first a little ironic. However, since that time, the spirit of the wolf has truly taken a hold of my heart and mind, and I can now claim my appreciation for the wolf as being truly genuine. I can now proudly say that my love for the lobo is as real as my own flesh and bones and runs as deep as my very blood. And hey, if Wolves by Strangers started with a semi-ironic wolf t-shirt collection, then who knows what can happen to all the other ironic wolf t-shirt wearers.

Finally, in closing I simply have to share this great article in Paste Magazine by Kate Keifer with accompanying photography by Josh Meister entitled “The Evolution of the Hipster.” You can access the article here.

And of course, I can’t forget to thank Amanda for this hilariously topical illustration. Great work, Amanda. I have a feeling that this picture will be the source of some interesting dialogue for lots of readers.

Aug 21 2011

#113 “Identity Crisis”

From Charlie in San Francisco, California

Labels. We often say that we hate them, but in some ways we all strive for them. Let’s be honest: In reality, everyone is searching for an identity. Sometimes the identities that we seek out are truly unique and individualistic. At other times, our desire is to belong to a clique or group that will allow us to be a part of a collective identity and secure a position of belonging.

Overall, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with a desire to be known as a certain “type” of person. It provides security and safety and makes us feel like we have a definitive of knowledge of our own selves, and most of the time there’s nothing wrong with this. Introspection is something we value, and creating labels for ourselves allows us to feel like we have achieved this even if we have not.

As for myself, I have sought out a variety of labels and identities over the years. In high school I was at first a nerd. Then I turned granola. After this, I dabbled in the stoner or hippie identity with a little bit of southern redneck thrown in for good measure. During all of this, I played the class clown and the sarcastic deadpan comedian with a hard exterior but a heart of gold.

As you can tell, of course, the pictures that are on display today explore a couple of modern labels that have only recently entered into our cultural lexicon. Now, I am not sure if you despise those that seem to adhere to the characteristics of these illustrations or if you are the person who fully exemplifies them. Either way, I think we can all agree that these illustrations are humorously exaggerated but also entertaining in their accuracy.

Over the past several months, I have engaged in a fair amount of communication back and forth with Charlie. I don’t really know exactly who she is because I have never met her in person. So… I couldn’t tell you if she is a hipster, hippie, scenester, nerd, goth, mean girl, yuppie, stoner, wasp, queen bee, wallflower, punk, emo kid, mod, or bla bla bla. But… I can tell you that she is another wonderful contributor to the Wolves by Strangers project and for that I have the deepest respect and admiration for her, and of course, as you can see, she is a very talented and unique artist. Also, I just have to say that I was so impressed when she asked me to send her some WBS flyers to hang up in San Francisco. How cool is that? If you want some flyers to hang up in your town, just let me know, and I would be more than happy to send some your way.

Finally, just as a final note, here is a hilarious website that details 37 different personality types. Check it out and see which label fits you best.