When Zane Wylie was 5 his mom gave him a canister of Play-Doh and Zane Wylie ate it. When Zane Wylie was 8 his mom gave him a pack of colored pencils and a spiral sketch book and Zane Wylie traded the pencils for a couple Hot Wheels and used the book to smash ants and flies at recess. Then one Friday--the Friday after Thanksgiving when Zane Wylie was 12--Zane Wylie's mom was about to hack up a turkey carcass to make stock, and Zane Wylie was like, "Hey can I see that for a sec?" Reluctantly, his mom handed him the bones and a knife, which Zane Wylie used to carve the entire illustration of that kid's leg getting eaten by a boa constrictor in Where the Sidewalk Ends along the turkey's backbone. An artist was born.
The moral of the story: don't let your mom pigeon hole you with Play-Doh and paper products. Find a medium that speaks to you and turn it into art. (My mama would like to add this medium should preferably be one that earns enough money to get you your own place, or at least chip in on the groceries every once in a while.)
The medium that truly speaks to Zane Wylie, presumably not discovered until some years after his turkey awakening, isn't carcasses but skulls. Human skulls. Real ones. He carves them, intricately and elaborately, with themes ranging from Celtic warriors to Asian dragons to Russian sea captains. The skull featured above depicts the life of Vadim Konyashev, a salty child of the Laptev Sea who grew up on the bow of his father's ship. On the day his father died, Vadim took a bottle of vodka from the man's 3-fingered hand and realized he was raised with such crudeness and tyranny so that he would learn to be strong enough to carry the legacy of leader of men when this moment came. Wylie continues the story:
His father's blood, now starting to freeze to the outside of the bottle glistened as Vadim held it high and drank it empty. The crew's cheers were cut short as the empty bottle shattered against the forehead of a crew member. "Next man who thinks celebrating is more important that working eats this glass!"
Who knows if the tale of Vadim Konyashev is real or not--maybe it's total BS like my tale of Zane Wylie--but either way, the captain's immortalization as etchings on authentic dead head bones seems fitting. And pretty awesome.
All of Wylie's real human skull art is available for purchase through his Website below. He also sells carved replica skulls.