Wolves by Strangers
Wolves by Strangers
WBS is a social experiment and art project dedicated to collecting wolf artwork from global strangers and sharing it with the world.
WBS is a social experiment and art project dedicated to collecting wolf artwork from global strangers and sharing it with the world. Read more
About this project
When Wolves by Strangers began in the Spring of 2011, I had few expectations. In truth, I was merely looking for a diversion from my day job. But while the collection of wolf pictures seemed like just the next phase in a long list of short-lived pastimes that included everything from kayaking to metal-detecting, it would prove to be much more than just another hobby.
It all began innocently enough. One afternoon while researching what my latest obsession would be, I happened to run across a Q & A website where someone had posted that his hobby was collecting and displaying throughout his home artistic pictures drawn by his friends. The idea seemed fun and easy, but I wanted to take it to another level. It occurred to me to marry art-collecting with a somewhat ironic personal interest in wolf t-shirts. But because I was hesitant to approach my friends and family to ask for wolf pictures, the only solution was to throw myself on the mercy of the general public. And thus Wolves by Strangers was born.
Overall, my plan was laughably simple:
1. Rent a post office box.
2. Distribute fliers.
From March 1st onward, this is exactly what I did. Almost every afternoon, I spent an hour or two walking around my hometown of Chattanooga, leaving small sheets of pink paper with WBS information in strategic locations. During one excursion I placed a flier on top of a trash can in the University of Tennessee Engineering and Computer Science Building. I later learned that this particular scrap of paper would prove to be pivotal in the life of WBS. Within a matter of minutes it was picked up by a young man named Eric who snapped a quick photograph of it and posted the picture to reddit.com. Eric’s photograph quickly achieved prominence on the front page of the website and was picked up by a variety of other sites as well. It went viral through a variety of media outlets. It was even mentioned briefly by Danny Wallace in a publication called Shortlist that is distributed to passengers on London’s immense underground railway system. Artwork soon arrived from more than half of the 50 states as well as from Canada, Mexico, Slovenia, Australia, Indonesia, Germany, England, Sweden, France, Scotland, The Czech Republic, Lithuania, Columbia, Finland, Romania, The Netherlands and Japan (to name a few).
Suddenly I had pictures of wolves of every shape, size and disposition, and I realized that I needed an art gallery. Only a website (wolvesbystrangers.com)would be big enough to accommodate my rapidly growing collection of artwork from wolf lovers around the globe.
When wolvesbystrangers.com was launched on May 1st, I was surprised to realize that I was not alone in my fascination with the wolf. Others from all over the world seemed to be equally enamored with this uniquely appealing creature, and their interest ranged from twistedly ironic to truly passionate and purposeful. I had inadvertantly struck a chord with people on a global scale. I began feverishly writing letters and exchanging emails on an almost daily basis with a variety of individuals who all seemed excited about not only wolves but about the idea of connecting with a stranger through such an unusual avenue. At the end of each day, I found myself in awe of the universal appeal of this strange project and the amazing animal that served as its focus.
From third grade girls with pictures of wolves on their Trapper Keepers to tattooed bikers with wolves stitched onto the backs of their leather jackets, I discovered that there is a wolf in all of us that longs for connection and howls out to belong to a universal pack.
But beyond all of this, I was also struck by the kindness and generosity of those who obliged my unusual request. People from all walks of life and from every corner of the world, adults and children alike, and both men and women participated in something that had practically no personal benefit, no promise of wealth or fame, and no guarantee of recognition. Although drawing pictures is fun, participation in Wolves by Strangers seemed to be completely selfless. But through this spirit of benevolence and childlike whimsy something unexpected and truly remarkable was achieved. Through this weird plea for wolves and the strangers who answered the call, something was created which could have never been planned and which no doubt means something a little different to each person who has taken part.
And in the end, all of this just proves that it’s not about the wolves...
It’s about the strangers.
WHY WBS NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT:
The primary focus of this kickstarter campaign is to raise funds necessary to simply keep the project alive. Money is spent to maintain WBS, but the project itself makes no money. I have chosen not to taint the website with advertising, and from the beginning, this was never meant to be a commercial venture. Since the inception of WBS, I have covered the costs of creating and maintaining the website, producing fliers, acquiring postage for return letters to contributors, buying stickers for the artists and prizes for contests, advertising on facebook, etc. While these expenses have all been worth it for the vast enjoyment this project has brought to myself and hundreds of other people, the financial commitment is becoming a bit overwhelming. In short, I’m not sure how long I can continue to maintain the project without a little help.
Many people have inquired as to why I don’t simply turn the WBS project into a book. This would provide a definitive goal as well as help to achieve some financial gain from the project. While I admit that this is a grand idea and one that I am exploring, I have found that the legal red tape surrounding the production of an art book that features work from mostly anonymous contributors is too extensive to pursue without expert legal council. As such, if WBS does ever make it into a book form... It will probably be later down the road.
To conclude: In less than 100 days from now, the WBS project will celebrate 1 solid year of sharing free wolf art from global strangers with the rest of the world. Not a single day has passed without an update to the website. Please help me keep this project alive!
Questions and concerns are always welcome. Feel free to contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Howls and Scratches,
Before I let you go, I must offer a sincere “thank you” to Victoria Witt of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Victoria is the talented young artist who allowed me to use her incredible piece entitled “Iridescence” as the face for this kickstarter campaign. Her artwork never ceases to amaze me...
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