Thursday, September 25, 2008

Contest Watch: Week of September 18th

If there's one thing I can be relied on for, it is being unreliable. I've had a weird week, and when coupled with uninspiring weeks from Threadless, Woot and Teefury, not to mention DBH's current slowdown in anticipation of the big 10K winner, it adds up to nothing said. I've hardly found myself at a topical loss so early, and hope to bring you something new and exciting this weekend, but the last week, let's put it down in the record books as "lost".

One thing we can mark as "found" however is a boatload of great designs. The dramatically narrowed down results are below.

Starting off at Threadless, we have the "Get Out of My Mind" award, going to neomonki's "Man's Best Friends."It's an incredibly simple shirt, and there's really not much I can say about it that it cannot say itself. That said, it feels tailor made for me. It's a charmingly illustrated cartoon, and one I can condone the message of. Not only would I get to display my loyalty to beer and bacon (the latter admittedly being the one I am most apt to consume irresponsibly), but it's a DARK BEER. Even if I didn't love this shirt, I would have to give kudos to the designer for tapping into a topic that I personally could never tire of.

Continuing the alcoholic theme, we trade the bottle for the rocks glass down at Design By Humans, where the anticipation for the 10K winner is so high, they forgot to even announce a shirt of the day yesterday. Even with this screw-up, kudos to DBH for printing all five of the finalists, even if only two have come up
so far. By far the fairest way they could have possibly handled a pure vote contest.

An interesting side effect to the 10K frenzy? It's left regular voting a bit shaken in its wake, allowing people like me to find designs like "Croc 'n' Roll" by gloopz, a design that has apparently been up for voting nearly three months. It's a great musician shirt... the colors are attention-grabbing and the size doesn't hurt either, and the design, while not complex, is skillfully done. It's a brilliant spoof illo, and anyone at all familiar with an old time jazz club is going to see this and fall in love. Besides that haze of good music (would that be Crocodile Rock?) and smooth whiskey that the design evokes, my favorite detail is how much the croc evokes Ray Charles. That I can associate a big purple lizard with a classic artist speaks to just how well the designer put his concept together.

Now that I've successfully made myself look like a total lush in the last two sets of comments, it's off to shirt.woot for a glass of milk. This was another week with a number of solid shirts I could have written up, for which I am happy, and a fog that isn't worth wasting this many words on, for which I am sad. The theme: reinterpreted movie titles. There were lots of puns (expected, since the theme all but demanded them) and a severe lack of creativity in the selection of films, which is why I'm noting newbie Drakxxx's offering, inspired by "A Clockwork Orange." It uses perhaps the most overdone film in the derby, but is far and away the best shirt the title offered up. Instead of going simple, the designer had the yarbles to create a clockwork orange. Besides wanting these marketed as toys for the Christmas season, I love how the design completely counters the film's mood with a cheerful little soldier orange. I think that the clock helps anchor the design, for those people who wouldn't immediately get the pretty obvious clockwork elements, but wish the whole thing was a little smaller and used more canvas, something like the original rendition of the design, but with more organic and appropriate details... that could take this to the next level, because the style and skill are clearly up to par. I'm thinking this could be a designer to watch as he gets more and more used to the medium, presuming woot's fickle nature doesn't turn him ultraviolent.

While our last offering took something violent and made it charming, "You've Been Outcreeped!" by gumbolimbo takes something cutesy (seriously, the monster, the title, even the designer's handle is all adorable) and spooks it out. Pimp my haunted hayride would be proud. It's the details that make this totally slay. It has a great use of negative space, but the positive space is used to even stronger effect. The shadows are spot-on, with the ghostly attackers forming a shape one could logically expect from the chair shape, except for those pesky swords. My favorite detail is in the shadow of the clock, where the weights or pendulums (cuckoo clocks are not something I'm well versed in) reflect as coffins. However, my favorite element is the red pattern on the chair... not content to add it as a focal point alone, the designer insists on a flock or suede print, to make it texturally similar to the style of chair it is based off of. It's the sort of small but important detail that makes this design so wholly printworthy.

And finally, a bear fighting a squid. This shirt, appropriately titled "Bear Versus Squid," was created by a guy who goes by the name Slaterock. Apparently, Mr. Rock was of the impression that the world distinctly lacked awesome, and so he created something so mind numbingly epic, no snarky or verbose blogger could sum it up. It closes a wonderful week in the world of shirt contests. If this blog was the Daily Show, it would be your moment of zen. Just stare at it and marvel.

If you made it to this paragraph, you've likely finished drooling. I'd love to give you something else to salivate for and serve up something special for the weekend like I promised last time, but really, all I can promise in good conscience is that there will be entries between now and next week's contest watch. Until then, gawk at the bear and squid shirt some more. Maybe even take a second and vote for it.

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