Thursday, October 30, 2008

Contest Watch: Week of October 23

While you're all prepping the last touches on your costumes for tomorrow, here are a couple pieces that may someday make a good addition to your more legitimate wardrobe:

We'll start with a new addition to the Contest watch, an apparently totally new site called Chimpogo. The site seems to have no affiliation with monkeys or bouncing, and their current offerings are rather slim, but they do offer a contest to change that, and among the people expressing early interest is one a.mar.illo, contest entrant extraordinaire. El Pulpo is featured above, and what can really be said about it that isn't obvious? It's an octopus in a luchador mask shooting lightning and wearing cowboy boots, while a bird perches on its head and sings of fire. All this, with only two colors. I should not have to convince you that this is awesome. Then again, with a.mar.illo's distinctive style at the helm of the design, most of you probably knew it was awesome to start with.

Pushing the bar higher with lower, Threadless has been running one of their unofficial Alumni contests lately: a one-color wonderland dubbed "I've Got Mono." The early entries have been extremely solid, but I'm really loving ISABOA's entry, Monocosmic. With one color at your disposal, often it's a matter of bringing the detail, and this one delivers, with plenty of sketchy style offset by some well placed planetary patches of solid color, which give a bold contrast to the finer lines of the piece. The alien, or space traveler, or whoever/whatever this is is well-rendered, and I feel he's set well against that space backdrop, helping give him even more of an otherworldly feel... as if the elongated torso, shrunken-looking head or octopus buddies aren't enough to prove this guy is a little left of ordinary. The sketch provides plenty of intrigue in its details, and the size of the print makes sure you'll be able to see every last one of them. Not only that, but its coverage of the canvas draws the eye in easily, meaning that you won't even really need any color to make a bold statement.

To end the unintentional tentacle-fetish portion of this review, we bring out "You're off the edge of the map, here be monsters!" by Demented, who apparently loves FREAKING HUGE TITLES! That's fine, though, because he also loves freaking huge sea-beasts. I love the bold colors here, with the green and the tans and the grays all popping off the bright, warm blue of the sea/shirt. I dig the placement of the sea serpent and the giant octo, just off the edge of the map... the octopus even looks to be rolling it up as the ship departs, signaling that there is no return... it speaks well for a designer when even secondary characters can be so well planned. The true focal point, however, is the ship heading toward the massive whalemonster, which I find a very nice idea. Not only is he posing innocently as an island, but his mouth opens up as if to lead the ship into a grotto... it's a small but important detail, since the ship's going blissfully straight into it, and it looks ever so nice.

But what if you were more drawn to El Pulpo's bird buddy than Pulpy himself? For the bird faction, especially those who love birds-on-heads, enjoy some ginetteginette. "Hey, I'm sorry but I'm not impressed at all" is a sarcastic tell-off to critics, one of a couple of designs she created based off actual comments she'd received. In fairness, her work is much more avant-garde than most. She loves the weird, and is unafraid to dabble in themes that are far from family-friendly. This particular piece combines many of her more charming themes... cats with three eyes, simulated process, and of course, a party hat made out of a bird. I think this is probably one of her most accessible pieces, for sure, and outside of just appreciating her work to start with, I like the ironic text and the colors and love the bird-hat. But mostly, I love the designer's willingness to push the envelope of shirt design. For me, there are many ways you can impress me artistically, and while I love any designer putting out undeniable quality work, the ones I find myself being most excited about are the ones that don't hold their ideas back... I am always excited to see more from Ginette, no matter what it is, because I know I won't have seen anything quite like it before.

Of course, maybe you like your cats a little less friendly toward their normal enemies. If so, we go to Design By Humans, where herdofbirds' "Clockwork Cat and Battery Mouse" delivers just that. No letting the little guy perch on his head here... clockwork cat puts the kibbosh on BM. Clearly he wasn't sporting Energizers. I like the concept and the colors, and vicariously the cut-away. It reminds me of a book I had as a child. The whole thing is probably the most whimsical take on killing something that I've ever seen, and that disturbs and elates me.

And with that, I hope you all have a disturbing and elating Halloween. That's the whole point, ain't it?

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