n. Vagabonds, Itinerants, Men of no settled Abode, of a precarious Life, Wanderers of Fortune, such as Gypsies, Beggars, Pedlars, Hawkers, Mountebanks, Fidlers, Country-Players, Rope-dancers, Jugglers, Tumblers, Shewers of Tricks, and Raree-show-men. —A Dictionary of Thieving Slang, 1737
For every culture there are those who live outside and in opposition to it, defining themselves as “other”: artists, musicians, makers, misfits, and innovators in every field, those who shine brightly on the edge of discovery and create worlds of their own rather than accepting the status quo. They have been called many names over the years; in this generation those iconoclasts are the strowlers. This term was initially applied in a derogatory way by the talking heads that represent the dominant culture, but gradually it was adopted as a badge of pride by the same people it was meant to insult. Not all people who might be called Strowlers describe themselves as such, however, and there is no central Strowler movement. The most that could be said is that there is a loosely connected network of friends and associates. Not all Strowlers are magic users; in fact most of them are not, but they do usually share a belief that the current system is unjust and that magic should be for everyone.
On many levels, we are all strowlers. The visionaries who create, the mystics who imagine, the fans who witness such creativity in action… we are our own audience. Perhaps the most inspiring concept behind the Strowler series is its real-life foundation in visionary subcultures forged by people who refuse to be content with dull, pre-packaged lives.
Although the Strowlers series is fictional, the concept of “strowlers” is quite real. For every culture, there are people who live outside of it, and in opposition to it. Defining themselves as “the others,” such people—artists, makers, wanderers, tricksters, rebels, and other tribal visionaries—shine brightly on the edges of discovery. Strowlers depends upon such people, not only as characters in this fictional world of magical mayhem but as the creators and the audience for the series itself.
Several years ago, inspired by early concept development for this series, three underground music-festivals embraced the Strowlers identity and created something wonderful between the cracks of the everyday world. Now, the spirit of those creative innovations continues, in part, through the efforts and support of the people behind those festivals and the folks who enjoyed them.
Here’s what several real-life “strowlers” have had to say about the concept behind this series:
Strowlers choose ‘a path less traveled’ because that’s what’s true to the individual’s soul, despite the consequences of differing from mainstream society.
Being a “Strowler” isn’t something you watch passively. It’s something you DO. It’s who we are. We’re the people who take the biggest step of all – from creating NOTHING to creating SOMETHING. That sense of action is essential to who we are and what we do.
Each Strowler is a hypercreative malcontent: compulsively creative and eternally dissatisfied with what passes for the status quo. Our only response is to make our OWN status quo.
This is a renaissance in the pride of handcrafted goods, of making something with your own work rather than with having something handled to you by someone else. It exists both for the maker of art and for the seeker of that art. Strowlers are crafters and originators; Strowler art can be anything that moves you.