Grrrwolf in case you didn’t know has been around the fandom for an incredible amount of time, longer than most of you been furries. An artist of extraordinary talents, which is sadly a lot of his earlier works these days have been forgotten.
Q: How did you come to find the Furry Fandom?
A: You know how in Scooby-Doo when they would stumble along a revolving hidden door that whirled them into another secret room? I’d like to think of it kinda like that!
During my college years I was taking art classes and watching a lot of anime…and I was addicted to a certain game in the arcades called “Darkstalkers”. Sometime later in 1997 I had my first taste of the internet, and I found myself stumbling through websites looking up art archives on anime, Darkstalkers, “H” (or hentai), what have you. One site I found in particular, http://www.side7.com, was split into two separate sections – one was titled “Anime”, and the other…”Furry”. I was befuddled as to what “Furry” meant, so I clicked myself in.
Suddenly, it was like something fell into place. It was like, “So THIS is what I’ve been all my life!” I soon discovered that there was a whole underground fandom to this, and that it was like a separate society almost entirely. At the same time I met my first Furry by happenstance, in my figure drawing class…
I had walked by a student who was drawing in a sketchbook, back to the wall, and I sooorta looked over to see what he was drawing. I knew I was invading his space, but I saw a male anthro Doberman chained up to a wall. He saw that I was looking, and reflexively snapped the sketchbook to his chest. I asked in amazement, “Are….you?….” and he asked back, “Are…you?” and I was like, “Yeah!” and he said “Me too!” and it was history form that moment on.
I began to meet others who felt a kindred to this fandom. So much comes to mind, but one Furry convention later (Confurence 10), things just begin to avalanche. I went to convention after convention, met a lot of wonderful people and made some amazing friends both online and face to face.
Q: How has it changed your life or outlook?
A: Absolutely it has, and for the better! I’ve always felt that the furry fandom is so beautifully creative and expressive, and our bonds and emotions go deep with one another. We’re not afraid to hug each other and be affectionate, which is something that has been so essential in my life to begin with. Being accepting, outgoing, and active in our community, as well as giving back to others, are aspects that make me proud to be furry.
Honestly there is no other fandom out there as amazing as ours. The love, the support, the appreciation, and the feedback I’ve experienced are all wonderful and magical. We have something truly unique that other fandoms don’t, and it’s not just because of our fursonas!
Q: Is Furry a Hobby or a Lifestyle for you?
A: Definitely a lifestyle! I feel that 95% of my friends and social activities are based in and around the fandom. In January 2016 through the support of my amazing wife, I left my job of 10 years to become a full time furry artist. I feel so fortunate and grateful to be able to work for the fandom I love, doing the art that I feel so passionate about!
In the past I’ve tried to be a part of other fandoms and communities, and though I will not name anything specific, no community has ever come close. I never felt any of the brotherhood, encouragement, support and belonging that I do to the furry fandom. The only other group of people that has come close is the Puppy Play community – which is pretty much a blood relative to the fandom at this point – and I consider them my pack.
Q: Do you have a fursona or two or more? If so, how often do you draw yourself?
A: I’ve had a few alts, but Grrrwolf is absolutely who I am, through and through. The character was based off of Darkstalkers and my years of drawing Tiny Toons. He dyes his fur blue because he’s basically a wannabe Talbain. X3
The name came to be from my then-girlfriend and I trying to come up with aliases for our first furry convention, Confurence 10 in 1999. We had an Irish dictionary, and she wanted the name MuirCait (translation: Sea Cat/s), which sounded phonetically like “Mrrrcat”. I then followed suit and became “Grrrwolf” …with 3 R’s.
Any Grrrwolf with 2 R’s is an imposter! (Just kidding, but it’s a common misspelling that I accept. Three R’s just looks better!)
Drawing Grrrwolf is more of a thing I do to “be” with someone else, be it in a humorous situation or something meaningful; while drawing myself solo is more spur of the moment or by request.
Q: How old were you when you started drawing?
A: I’ve taken art classes throughout all my school years and into college, but I’ve been doing art since I was a sperm! HAH! I’m sure my mother’s womb had drawings all about it.
I grew up reading Garfield comics, and watching Scooby-Doo and He-Man. I watched movies from Disney like “The Fox and the Hound”, and “Robin Hood” with loving interest. Cartoons like Looney Toons, and later, Tiny Toons and Animaniacs, held something very close to my heart – even if it was conveyed by an anvil! From grade school to high school I would spend my free time with the VCR on pause, sketching the subject frozen on the screen.
Q: When do you feel it grew into art?
A: College. Definitely college. I did a lot of artwork that I’m proud of during my high school years, but taking figure drawing was like discovering The Matrix (Whoah!). I cannot stress enough to other artists how important, crucial, and essential it is to take figure drawing. What you take away from classes like that is immeasurable!
I wish I could say I feel I was doing “art” in high school, and though I was, my art teacher of four years really tore me down my Senior year, saying I wasn’t going anywhere, all I drew were cartoons, and that if art was a highway “you’re in the slow lane and even the freshmen are passing you by in the carpool lane.” I’ll never forget that, coming back into the classroom in tears. One of the students questioned out loud, “What did you say to him?!”
Q: What media is your go-to form of self-expression?
A: My mediums range from a simple disposable Bic pencil and digital art, to a little bit of charcoal, oil paint, oil pastel, and colored pencil. In 2015 I finally started learning how to paint with watercolors after 15 years of longing. It’s a lot of fun and also challenging because I have to think and do things in a different order than I’m used to. But my love will always be graphite. ❤
I just recently started using grey and toned paper, as well as graphite powder, blending sticks, shammy cloths, white chalk pencils, and eraser-core pencils – and that’s been A LOT of fun!
Q: Where do you get your ideas from?
A: Anywhere and everywhere! Music and movies, classical art and mythology, sexuality and pornography, fashion and photography, friends and models, other furry artists and artwork – and my personal desires and experiences…to name a few places.
I love submerging myself into the subject of the art I am working on. I will have friends model for me, and on my computer I create folders of reference material and images from the net, plus I’ll put together a soundtrack that reflects the mood and ambience of the project.
Q: Do they start out Furry or do you tweak them?
A: Unless there is a specific commission that calls for something else, my art will always start as furry; the models will always be anthros. I do that in the figure drawing classes I am currently taking, or when I am inspired to draw in public as well.
This is the first year, however, where I have had support and encouragement from the instructor. In previous classes from high school to college, my art teachers would either berate me, ignore me, and/or grade me down because I drew “those cartoon animal people”. The students liked it though, and the models were always amused. I can’t put into words how good it feels to finally have positive reactions from all three for the first time.
Q: Do you have a favourite species to draw?
A: Wolves of course, though I got my start with felines. Pretty much northwestern mammals, but I’m trying to expand out of my comfort zone. I’ve always had difficulty with horses, dragons, reptiles, avians,… and wings. Wings have ALWAYS been tough on me!
I can’t wrap my head around the facial construction of horses either. It’s like a loaf of bread with extra muffins stuck to it! And dragon faces are like drawing pizza wedges with teeth. X3
No offense to any of those species out there! I just have a hard time calculating the geometry of your faces! #^_^#;;
Q: Do you create art outside of the fandom?
A: I do! A few things here or there like portraits, logos, illustration and design work. I’ve painted a lot of miniatures for D&D and Warhammer campaigns, which was very zen to me. I used to draw Star Wars and World of Warcraft art as well, but I definitely prefer drawing anthropomorphic art.
Long story short, I had distanced myself from the furry fandom in 2008, and was searching for other communities to belong to. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I was suffering from extreme depression. I changed who I was and pretended to be someone I was not – a straight, masculine, anti-social male. I was absolutely miserable, but I tried to find a community to feel a part of during that time of my life. I drew art, but I didn’t always feel a connection to it. Though the other fandoms were good in their own ways and I have nothing against any of them, I just didn’t experience the brotherhood and family closeness, or the support and love and encouragement I felt with the furry fandom. =C
It wasn’t until 2014, when the gentle tapping on my shoulder from an old furry friend brought the armor I encased myself in crashing down around me, and I came racing back, arms outstretched to the furry fandom. I was simply astounded at what the fandom had grown into in six years! I honestly felt like I had just staggered out of a cryogenic sleep chamber or something.
I had also found out about James Hardiman’s passing, and that hit me HARD. I looked up to him as a mentor. Meeting him the first and only time face to face at Confurence 10 in 1999 made such an impact on me.
James Hardiman treated everyone with the same amount of kindness and respect, and it was through him that I truly felt that this is how you treat your fans, interact with everyone at the Dealer's Table, and how you conduct yourself as an artist and businessperson. His art had an amazing blend of both realistic and toony. He wasn't afraid to be in your face, quite literally, and he had a sense of humor that worked perfectly with his variety of characters. My artwork was always influenced by his, but now my work is dedicated to his memory. We all still miss you, Jim.
As a tangent, depression doesn’t fight fair. It sneaks up on you, gradually getting a stranglehold around you, but you have to fight with everything you got to break free of it! You can’t fight back fair either. This is your life you are fighting for! When you are being attacked in real life, you can’t just curl up into a ball and go meek, hoping they’ll leave you alone. You have to strike for the eyes, the throat, the groin! You have to scream and howl! This is your life, not theirs!
The exact same situation goes for depression. You can’t let it have you! I know it’s not easy, but I lost six years of my life to it, and I’m not giving it another day.
Q: Does your family know you create Furry Art? If so, how do they feel about it? If not, why not?
A: Oh boy…I’ll tell you, when I saw this question coming, I braced myself. This is a hard one, but I’m not ashamed to answer this…so here we go.
No…No they don’t. And they never will, at least not through me. Here’s why…
I was raised Christian, but I knew from age three I was different. I was very sexual, very curious, and very expressive. My family loves me so very much, and though they were a bit over-protective, I’m so grateful for them and the childhood I had.
During college, however, I made the decision to stop going to church. I didn’t feel like I belonged. I felt used, abandoned, and taken for granted, but most of all – I felt like a total hypocrite because of my bisexuality and the lust I had for intimacy.
There have been some close calls with my parents finding out what I draw, and I don’t really wish to go into details about them, but I do my best to keep my two lives separate. I’ve always wanted to be an animator, and my dad worked as hard as he could to get my foot in the door. I’ve even been interviewed at Disney Television Animation (which was one of the most horrible ten minutes of my life). I know this is not the direction he’d want me to go in my career, or in my life.
I’ve learned the hard way to keep my art close and protected. I’ve been harassed physically, sexually, and verbally at jobs when I revealed what I drew. “Whaaat the hell is THAT?! That’s got to be the UGLIEST thing I’ve seen in my LIFE!”, coming from the owner of the silkscreen business I once worked for. I’ve even been blackmailed, “If you don’t want your co-workers to find out what you draw, then you’re going to do this for me.” I had no idea about my rights back then either. I’ve had some rough times in the past.
However, drawing Furry art and being a part of the Fandom what makes me happy. This is who I am.
I feel complete and a part of this community, but it’s been really hard on me to not share my moments of joy and achievements with my parents and family. I was never able to reveal my excitement when I sold at my first con, or my surprise and overwhelming joy when I was Guest of Honor at Conifur Northwest. I can’t tell them about how proud I was when I lead a panel at Further Confusion on anatomy and had four models on stage, or when I had the honor to illustrate the cover for Furnation Magazine. I can’t talk about how I’m inspired by my friend who poses for me, or how much fun the latest art group was. It’s torture.
I remember in High School trying to come out to my sister, around 1993. Back then there was this huge debate over whether or not you were born gay or if you chose to be gay. She said “I don’t see why this is a debate at all. Of course you’re born gay!” I was surprised by this, and started mustering up the courage to talk to her about my conflicted feelings, “Oh wow, really? You think so? Because I…” She cut me off, “Yeah because, I mean, who would actually CHOOSE to be gay?!” I was crushed… “Oh….”
In 2004, it took me three days to come out to my parents over the phone. I was absolutely terrified. One of my friends had come out to his family, and his Christian sister forbade him from ever seeing her children because of it. I was so scared the same thing would happen to me. (Thankfully it didn’t.)
My parents didn’t understand what bisexual meant, so I gave up and told them I was gay. You never forget the sound of your mother sobbing, but she said “Somehow, I always knew…and I felt so bad because you were all alone, but how does a Mother tell her Son something she knows before he does?” My father said “We’ll pray and get through this together”, and then they had their pastor come over. They were supportive and accepting in different ways, however I felt and still feel that my intimate life is private, and there’s just a lot of crossover between my art, my fandom, and myself.
Growing up, friends would say, “come to this party”, “do this thing with us”, or “wanna come over and play Dungeons and Dragons?” Things I knew I wasn’t allowed to do. When I told them I couldn’t, they would say, “Screw your parents! Who cares if they get pissed off!” But that’s not what I was afraid of. I wasn’t afraid of making them mad. I was afraid of hearing, “We’re disappointed in you.”
It’s still something I’m fear to this day, even at 39.
Again, don’t get me wrong, my family loves me and I love them so very much. I just don’t want to make them feel sad or give them something else that is difficult to deal with in the list of problems they already have.
Q: Do you take commissions? If so, how often and what are your usual terms?
A: Absolutely I do take commissions! This is how I make ends meet and earn a living, so I am always open. Speed has been my weak point, but I’m working through my “get in shape” montage and I’m always improving!
All my commission info is here and here:
Q: Do you sell and create physical pieces of art? Prints? Folios? Bookcovers? Comics? etc
A: All artwork that I do starts out on paper or in a sketchbook. I love using physical media. I will usually color digitally, but I try to avoid working in pure digital. I acknowledge the advantages to working start to finish in digital art, but I feel there is something that is lost in the process. It’s like watching a movie made with physical effects versus a movie that is so dense with CGI.
I do have my art available as prints, posters, and more at https://inkedfur.com/creator/grrrwolf plus I am working to have a book of ALL of my art in 2017!
I tried to do a comic that seemed to languish in purgatory for years and years for many reasons, but ultimately I thought I wasn’t good enough to do comic book art. If I could travel back in time, I would slap myself for thinking that way! However, I have plans on beginning different comics in 2017 as well.
Q: I became first aware of you through Furnation magazine. I was wondering would you mind talking about on the project, and your involvement with it.
A: Sure thing, I’m flattered! Mark Fuzzwolf had just started producing the magazine, and he had asked me if he could do a new feature for issue #8 in 2007 that would showcase a gallery of my art. I was more than tickled to oblige.
Later he asked if I could do the cover for issue #9, and to have artwork from the featured story, “Dreamkeepers” by David Little, incorporated into it. After a little bit of planning, I got a local fur friend to pose as a certain cross-dressing fortune teller from a certain animated movie. I guess it’s very subtle to who it is because not that many have identified the character, but I consider that cover to be my masterpiece. =)
Q: Also on a personal note how do you feel about how there is an interest in furry fanzines like Furnation magazine and them being so hard to find even online. I was only able to find 9 of the 10 issues on various sites
A: It’s hard to say. I went to the cons up until Anthrocon ’05, and then dropped off the map in ’08. Waking back up in 2014 and going to BLFC in 2015 was a MAJOR shock. Things had evolved and changed, but it was an amazing, astounding metamorphosis! The quality of work and the use of technology blew me away. Dealer’s tables definitely got more epic, and the fursuits are just jaw-dropping now! It’s wonderful to see the range of talent, and that there’s more of a spread of recognition to other creators and fursonalities outside of just artists who draw. There was a definite, awkward learning curve I had to learn, but I’d like to think I’ve adjusted well.
Going back to furry fanzines…I think that with technology getting to the point where artists can show their work in so many different ways, and websites evolving to accommodate a variety of needs and niches, the dependency on established publishing companies has definitely shifted. In-house printing, Patreon, and on-demand services have really changed the nature of things. It’s quicker and easier to get news and stay informed, and I’ve even noticed that the way communication works and how we interact online is different than it was 10 years ago now that we’re all “mobile”. There is a noticeable difference between ICQ to Telegram on how conversations flow, for example.
From what I’ve read, Furnation Magazine was the possibly the highest selling publication within the Furry Fandom, but there are a lot of reasons why it seems hard to find. Nostalgia, collectability, time, and the huge influx of a new generation of Furries all seem like understandable reasons to me. Coincidentally, I sold off my remaining stock of issues #8 and #9 at BLFC ’15 and Furlandia ’15, but it took a little while.
I’m curious to see what will happen in the next 10 years. The one thing for certain is that there will always be a fandom, and it will just keep getting more diverse and creative! I’m grateful for all the times I had all these past years, but 2016 has been absolutely the greatest year of my life. I look at life in this way…Life will always be challenging and difficult. But I have my arms and my legs. I can see, hear, taste, touch, and feel. I’m eating three meals a day and there’s a roof over my head. I’m doing pretty damn good! Today is the last (insert current date) there will ever be. Make it count!
Thank you so much for this opportunity, Ahmar Wolf. I really enjoyed this interview! All the best!
Here is a list of my websites if you wish to publish those…
My no-paywall https://www.patreon.com/grrrwolf
Buy prints and more at http://inkedfur.com/creator/grrrwolf
grrrwolf6d9 [at] yahoo.com
Telegram (most preferred) : Grrrwolf