Saturday, September 13, 2008

Contest Watch: Week of September 4

As I slowly crawl my way to an actual schedule for these posts, please enjoy last week in contests, a slow week but with some definite solid work.

For starters, I'd like to speak of the DBH 10K contest. Hundreds of designs were entered into a contest for $10,000. DBH selected 10. The users will narrow it to 5, and then from those 5 select a single design to score a cool 10-grand. Last week's selection, Radiomode's "Perversion of Paranoid Populace", is one of the designs chosen, so you know my vote's behind that one, but my other vote, if there must be only one, goes to an underdog, "Ekadanta" by Ellsswhere. It stands out not only for the lovely illustration of Ganesh the elephant god, and subsequent Eastern feel, but because of it's muted, tasteful palette and weathered appearance. It stands out against a sea of splatter and loudness, and for that I wish it only good things, and ask that if you can spare a vote for it and PPP, please do this weekend, and next week as well if they make the final cut. (If you're looking to complete a trio, my recommendation is "Fight the Good Fight" by Jimiyo, a stellar illustrator and all around good guy)

On the other side of contests, "Threadless Loves Drawing" has a presumptive winner, or at least I'd presume it. The piece which will unfairly kick my beloved Mouthface to the curb is "The Infinite Struggle," by MINNIM. It's a piece best appreciated riight up close. From afar, it's an oddly textured shirt with a big white triangle on it, which is admittedly kinda stupid. Get up close, though, and one would certainly be impressed as all hell with the sheer intricacy of the doodling. It is doodling, when it comes right down to it, but it's doodling on speed... I'm willing to say without intentional exaggeration that there are probably a good million tiny doodlemen on this shirt, especially if you consider that the back appears to be full of them as well, given the all-over appearance of the print. It's in somewhat bizarre artistic company, since one cannot help but get a vibe similar to some of Martin Handford's more crowded "Where's Waldo" illustrations, especially in that there's a lot of action in the crowds, not just crowding. There appears to be a message going on in the throngs... it's not just any struggle, but it seems to touch on many human rights struggles, predominantly religious freedoms and persecutions. The style keeps the dialogue from becoming strained or overserious (it's just a shirt after all, right?), but the details added to flesh out that subtext make the design more attractive than its doodles alone ever would. I just wish those extra elements were more dispersed... there seem to be massive spots of doodle with nothing particular going on, and spreading those extra icons out a bit could add a lot to the overall impact. It's not a perfect shirt, but it's one that absolutely must be seen for the sheer effort put forth.

Also imperfect, though quite a bit more enticing to me, is "Night of the Fish," a design submit by Aman over at Uneetee. To be honest, I don't understand Uneetee's vote procedure. This particular design had been up there since March when I deigned to stumble over it this week, which is a long time to be available for voting. To be honest, I'm not even sure I -did- vote for it. I certainly meant to, though. While I'm not sure how the alleged gold foil would work, I love the style... you can tell this was sketched up by hand before getting inked, and that scratchyness adds a lot to the zombiefish. They make up quite the group, positioned so some seem to be walking along, others swimming through the night sky, like some truly otherworldly posse of spirits. I'm hoping Uneetee stops sitting on this one now that autumn and Halloween are upon us... it'd be absolutely perfect for the season.

The main reason I went to Uneetee at all this week (as it's never been a place I voted at) was because the derby over at shirt.woot was among the weakest ever (and with what is shaping up to be two winners with no sellout in a row, it's apparent that even the wooters who tastelessly chose the fog are agreeing with that assessment). Thankfully, I'm noticing more and more former woot designs at other sites, which warms my heart, because I think woot's best designers deserve attention from the real shirt community. One such reworking, Dekonstruct's "Space Bees II," found its way to Design By Humans this week. In all honesty, I don't know if this is a DBH design, even with a strong reworking and a big, visible print. I still love it, though, and have since I first saw it. The designer has a brilliant sense of the absurd (seriously, Space Bees?) and knows how to make simple designs pack a wallop. There's a lot to be said for intricate art, but a simple piece with a good concept and a smooth execution is nothing to sneeze at either, and this designer has long been one of my go-to examples of doing that right.

Champion of the week, though, goes easily to Threadless submission "See Otters" by ninety. It's absolutely adorable without being those two scathing insults so often seen at shirt sites: girly and kiddy. There is no gender to this, and the style is sophisticated over cartoony, making it much more clearly geared to adults who still have a sense of wonder, as opposed to children. I could talk about the way the rest of the cityscape is kept sparse to not draw away from the otters themselves, or how I'm fond of the choice of color for the water, but seriously, the appeal of this shirt is summed up by the first poster in its submission thread: "I wish this was a real place!" I agree. And I wish that was my real car. OTTERCAR FTW!

I'll make no promises this week as to when next week's recap will get published. We'll say "general weekend vicinity" and leave it at that. Catch you then, and hopefully before then for more individual tee talk.

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