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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Contest Watch: Week of September 11

One of the reasons I want my contest watch to actually be up and running on Thursdays is because that is the time when the shirt.woot derby closes. With most shirt contests being ongoing, and woot being, as I've said, my real jump-off point, I feel it is the most logical time to update. This week, woot brought some of its best shirts in possibly months, and in honor of that, I insist on being on time.

One of the greatest concept pieces I've seen ever at woot is ChrisRisse's "Summer Ends With FAIL." Is it solid illustration? Sure. Do the colors work? Definitely. Hell, even the physics seem pretty convincing. What goes in for the kill, though, is how complex the story is. We see the guy having clearly fallen from a ladder, breaking the tree branch. What takes a little longer to see is the spray-painted leaves. From there, it's a brief jump to notice that the accident occurred while trying to tape the spray-painted leaves back onto the tree. Which, as I said, great concept. It's a smart and detailed joke shirt, and one I think could do quite well elsewhere later on.

If you're not funny, or dislike funny things, perhaps EdgarRMcHerly's "Here comes fall again" will be more your speed. Maybe it should be anyway. It takes a bold and decidedly un-fall color and still pays off as a clear representation of this week's autumn theme. I love the laid-back fall-god, just casually blowing against the trees. I love that his beard is the only "colored-in" part on him... it helps with the idea that Old Man Autumn is more of a spirit, an entity unseen by the human eye. There's a definite mythological vein to this piece. Also worth note is the mixture of styles, with the most "realistic" detail going to the leaves, a major thematic element but in many ways a supporting part, while the most recognizable element is done with the most relaxed hand, set against a fairly clinical distressed sunbeam, I would presume to add some contrast against the linework. And really, all other things considered, the design inhabits the shirt brilliantly, with the bulk spread across the chest in a standard placement, but with the leaves blowing out in a nice arc toward the bottom and adding depth.

Elsewhere in contests, Design By Humans has bypassed Autumn altogether in the midst of it's 10K contest (final votes this week, but I don't have to recommend a THIRD time, do I?) and gone straight on to the second installment of their Halloweek. The entries are filtering in slowly as yet, but one of the early horses is "Ghost Pattern" by Spires. It's oh so very DBH, with an all-over print of detailed wallpaper. I can only hope it's custom-crafted. Regardless of that consideration, tho, what I appreciate here isn't solely the wallpaper, because let's be honest, that'd make a pretty gaudy shirt on its own. I firstly like the colors chosen for the pattern/background interplay... bright enough to show up, but dark enough to play against each other. But what I love is the ghosts. Every one seems to have personality... bigger bodies, smaller bodies, different eyes... and there's so much movement in them... they're great to look at. More importantly, though, they're laying under the wallpaper pattern, which really makes them otherworldly, and plays off the idea that ghosts can pass through matter... here, they're lying right beneath the surface. Just a simple decision that makes this a totally sweet submission.

More monsters abound in iQuitt's "Maurice & Harry," despite not being a Halloweek entry. I have to presume that, despite the obvious Harry/Hairy wordplay, the fuzzy cycloppus is Maurice, because I Pompatus-Of-Love him. The expression on his one-eye is great, as if he has never been more concerned than he is at the thought of his skully red buddy tossing that airplane. Sure, Harry the Skulldude is cool too, and adds a nice splash of color, but the real design is all about my buddy Maury. The flow of his 20-or-so legs is mesmerizing, the detail is wonderful, and there is just so much to ask... why would anyone create this weird and wonderful creature? Why is it hairy? Is it floating or swimming? So much remains unknown about Maurice. And he is Maurice. Not even the designer can convince me otherwise.


Perhaps the biggest story this week was not coming across many really mind-blowing shirts at Threadless, one of the biggest purveyors of such quality, especially in a week where I could have included a couple more woots if I'd really wanted to. Ok, sure, there was one, but I think it was a bit too obviously mind-blowing to be fair to include. In lieu of that one, though, there was one solid piece that I knew I'd have to talk about, and one I actually like more for me, even against the clear quality of the other: "Two Novels Collide" by TOSOMB. It is everything a wordy bastard like myself could want... a solid drawing that pits two literary heavyweights against each other. Oh sure, The Old Man and the Sea is a wayyyy thinner volume, and sure, lit nerds like myself will notice it, but I quite enjoy the dreamlike atmosphere of the illustration, as if it exists in a world similar to Toy Story, or those old cartoons where mascots on cans and boxes would start dancing when someone left the music on. Please tell me I'm not the only one who recalls these. The distress scratches help give it an older, classic feel, and while I do not condone the dissing of the Hemingmeister, I can appreciate that this epic battle is taking place between two tomes often known for the sheer repulsion High School classes the world over have for them. Now, if only I could find out what all those other books were...

That about wraps it up for the week. The best part about doing the contest watch on time is that there's more room for an extra entry on the weekend, so I'll try and get something fun up for you. In the meantime and beyond, though, anyone know of some solid and brisk contest sites a guy can check out? I feel I'm checking the biggies, but I also feel like I'd do a disservice by solely focusing on what appear to be the big three.

1 comment:

Angel said...

Thanks Alex for your support and for taking your time to write about my design in your blog.
I really appreciate your comments. :)