Saturday, September 6, 2008

Contest Watch - Week of August 28

So what does one do when they promise a Thursday column on a Friday? Post it late Sunday night, of course! The concept strays a bit from the normal format, but is simple... discuss a couple of the true standouts from the contest scene... a brief overview of the unprinted work I came across over the last 7 days or so. So, without even further ado...

"I Like Books" is a great imaginative piece from EdgarRMcHerly over at Design By Humans. Edgar's a designer I found over at shirt.woot, and this is a reworking of one of his old entries there. To me, this improves the piece immensely, though I liked it fine before... it takes it to a subtler backdrop with a much nicer color palette... I really like the soft blues of the elephant and the thought-cloud, not to mention replacing all the letters with quotes. The message is equally solid... it's impossible not to see the respect for the imagination and vitality of learning in this piece. In many ways, to me, it sums up the artist's unique art style.

To a degree, it's foreshadowing that there would be such a solid entry from woot to DBH, since I found a solid piece in each of their contests from one artist, and one I'm sure to speak more of later, Radiomode. First there's "PPP (Perversion of Paranoid Populace)" which you should definitely click for a larger view. It's a wraparound print of a security station, each screen with a different view of places a camera should probably not be focused on. The varied screens are impressive enough, as is the underlying message (and people foolishly say shirts are disposable), but to me, the real win is the detail on the camera-head man. I just love him, and he looks just as ominous as he surely was intended to be. Then there's "Music Industry", an old Threadless sub that ended up in woot's Work derby. While I'm not normally a fan of the resub in a weekly contest such as that, there's no denying the quality in this... it's a great turn of the phrase, with a futuristic vibe and, like PPP but more subtle, there's certainly a commentary on the "disposable" nature of modern music in this piece.
On to Threadless, and JW's prettydamnepic "The Last Move." There's a lot I love about this, surely more than a brief synopsis can handle. The barren feel is great, especially when coupled with the fully unspecific apocalyptic scene. Something big went down, and while the illustration gives some big clues, it's done in a way that there's no definitive way to nail down what it was. It's a shirt that will have a different meaning for anyone who picks it up, and I think that'll be at least half its charm. In fact, it's one of the few shirts I really feel would benefit from a wall print, not just a shirt... I can see plenty of people hanging this up, and just staring at the story unfolding. BTW, I highly recommend clicking that link for the sub to see the full wrap-around and what's going on in the back. Proof that shirts can be wearable AND artful.

Without a doubt, however, my favorite shirt I've seen this week is "Mouthface" by hands_on_fire. Hands appears to be pretty new to Threadless, but even in her few submissions, there's a huge amount of honing and improvement of skills, and Mouthface is thusfar her pinnacle. It's got some stellar illustration and a totally whacked concept fleshed out with a bit of a gonzo-skatepunk style. To compliment the illo, there's a very skillful use of shirt color in the design. It's impeccably disturbing, and based on the artist's comments, it shows that History class doesn't NEED to be boring. I'm hoping to be able to blog even more pointless lauding for this shirt very soon, because I want it to print very badly.

It's never good to be late for your first day on the job, but thankfully this blog is self-hired. I should be seeing you all Thursday though, on time, for a new crop of characters. Until then, back to our regularly scheduled shirt blogging.

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