Sunday, November 23, 2008

Letters to the Editor

Last week, I promised I'd recount the results of the shirt.woot editor's choice week, and to be fully honest, it still depresses me too much to recount. It's not that nothing I predicted made it, but it is that what did make it, to me, shows a retailer spiraling out of control. After this week, I wonder if woot has even an ember of the spark that made them so appealing when I first found them.

The week started with promise, featuring Zenne's "OMG." The acronym, in case any of you just stumbled onto a computer yesterday, is a common net abbreviation for "Oh My God," and this leftover from the Art as Text derby plays off it brilliantly, as Zeus battles Poseidon in epic combat... it's impressive for its illustration and texture, sure, but also how it elevates a piece of valley girl vapidity into something stylish and artful. The letters give it a dash of humor, instead of being the be-all and end all of the piece.

Needless to say, seeing the week start strong triggered my oft-hidden optimism. I was even taken by Lucky 1988's "The Ninja Pandas vs The Diabolical Pirate Octopus," a piece conceptually out in left field and gloriously brimming with generic memetics to the point of being quite humorous. Yet when they finished the week with wookie cookies and a poorly rendered snowman costume-shirt that is too painful to even show you, it made me really wonder: where is woot's sense of quality?

It's a question I find myself asking weekly, sadly, as dailies get blander and the derbies march deeper into self-parody. I think of the first Editor's Choice week, which was exciting for its unexpected existence, and featured pieces with amazing art, solid concepts, and bold executions. I think of the second pair of EC weeks, showcasing a diverse array of past entries, and showed that woot was willing to take risks on shirts that were even proven to have little to no fan support (Turtle Rage had scored fewer than 40 votes, yet was given life by woot). This time around, things just feel sluggish. Whoever woot was trying to reach this week, they seem to be the exact same people who make their weekly line-up feel so stale... the geek vote summed up in Star Wars, the ninja/pirate guys catered to in a piece that, in retrospect, feels chosen for its memes and not its humor, and the illogically large contingent of dullards, drones and soccer moms getting the chance to turn that aforementioned snowman into a sellout. These are the sort of shirts we see every week... god forbid we get something artistic like Fiction vs. Nonfiction for a change. While the editors were at it, they could have amended that pesky line in the FAQ about how "these aren’t somebody else’s leftovers. Woot tees feature exclusive, original designs that you can’t get anywhere else." Sorry woot... most of this week was back-of-the-fridge leftovers, just like so many weekends when we're lucky to see one original, well done design garner votes enough to print. If you invite the masses to bring us a banquet, its their fault if it's storebought or stale. You invite us over to dinner, though, and you'd better make it fresh if you want us to look forward to future invites.

On the positive side, we did at least get one solid shirt for sale through the actual voting this week: rglee129's "The Night Shift." It's a vignette of the classic punch-in/punch-out working week, illustrated here with celestial beings. While it's a bit different from the designer's wheelhouse style, it still packs plenty of trademark charm... look how happy that moon is, with the squat little rainbow and Charlie Brown-esque sun (whose hat is possibly my favorite detail on the shirt) looking quite glad to be checking out. The piece as a whole uses the canvas space well, making it clear what's going on, and is one contagious smile of a design. It's just a shame that woot seems so divided so often on whether or not they're willing to provide such a smile.

As always, it's best to snag your woot shirts ASAP if you're interested... the best quality stuff rarely lasts, so you'll be lucky to see either of these featured shirts once December rolls around.


eyeslikesugar said...

Meh. I wouldn't really call, "A Hound's Tooth" a bold execution... but I am saddened by the choice of ECs, and really, really wanted Fiction vs. Non-Fiction. :(

or Octopussy.

Adder said...

I never thought I'd like A Hound's Tooth until I got one... it really stands out and looks damn good on me. Unsurprisingly. I say bold simply because of the stark colors, huge size, and out-of-its-element nature, being removed from a larger pattern.

And I definitely agree on Fic/Nonfic and Octopussy... both would have really stood out in woot's catalog and made striking (and in Octo's case, truly bizarre) shirts. Guess it's more important to look like a snowman.