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 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, 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 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.

Oct 20 2011

#173 “Hello, St. Louis!”

From “Pseudonym” in St. Louis

I have never been to that sensational city known as St. Louis, but it has long been a dream of mine to visit what I believe to be one of the most vibrant and beautiful metropolitan areas in the heart of America. To see that magnificent arch in person, to stroll through Forest Park on a bright and crisp autumn afternoon, to bite into a juicy hotdog at a Cardinals game- how breathtaking it would all be, how wonderfully “American.” So many incredible aspects of this great country seem to converge in this proud city, this “Gateway to the West” that is nestled peacefully between that mysterious border between east and west.

In many ways this mighty conglomeration of a city is a very suitable place to serve as the birthplace of this unique illustration. The reason for this is because this seemingly simple picture is truly a combination of diverse elements. If you take a good look, you’ll notice that this drawing is unique and interesting, but it is also vaguely familiar. Why? Because the two very different elements that converge to form this one illustration are the very likenesses of our old childhood friends Top Cat and Count Chocula. These two entities are far from similar, but on the Saturday mornings of my adolescence, they blended perfectly in a sugar-fueled binge of wonderment.

I know that I have never actually been to St. Louis and therefore my knowledge of the city is derived mostly from a viewpoint of ignorance, but I can say this: If St. Louis is anything like a crazy combination of anthropomorphic children’s cartoon and a sugary breakfast cereal that turns your milk to liquid chocolate, I’m packing my bags today. Break out the air mattress, Pseudonym. Clear a spot off the couch. I’m on my way!

May 14 2011

#14 “That Lonesome Lupine Cry”

From Frank and the University of Missouri.

There is perhaps nothing capable of raising the tiny hairs on the back of one’s arms and neck to such a chilling degree as the mysteriously plaintive call of the wolf. For centuries humans have been intrigued by various forms of animal communication. In fact in modern times this study has entered the realm of science where no doubt more mysteries than answers will evolve. But no matter how much or how little definitive information is revealed to us about these various communication techniques, one fact will remain: no cry elicits an emotional response quite like that of the lonesome lupine.

When one examines the work of art featured above (which depicts a somewhat disheveled wolfman crying out towards the moon), a certain question is no doubt raised: If the howl of a wolf is able to invoke such an emotional response from man, then what does it suggest about the emotional condition of the wolf? Is it reasonable to assume that the wail of a wolf indicates a certain degree of cognitive emotion within the creature?

Look at it this way:

Generally, as a result of the typical tone of the wolf cry, the timing of it (usually at night), and the circumstances under which one hears the cry (for most people this would occur during activities like camping or removing themselves from their typically urban or suburban setting), the cry of the wolf is often described with words such as ‘lonely,’ ‘plaintive,’ and ‘mournful.’ But… simply because this is the way that the sound is often described and perceived, does this mean that the cry is actually driven by a gloomy disposition within the wolf? Also, would there be a difference in the emotional quality of the traditional wolf and that of the anthropomorphic wolf? One might suggest that since the anthro wolf is a much more rare breed, and since it is trapped between the human and animal world, its cry would be all the more lonesome.

I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this matter. Also, thanks again to Frank from the University of Missouri for submitting this fantastic anthropomorphic wolf portrait.

And finally, if you would like to read more information about wolf howls and wolf communication, check out this link.