Thursday, December 18, 2008

Contest Watch: Week of December 11

The forecast for tomorrow predicts snow. The thermostat outside states that today is freezing out. But at Contest Watch, you best believe we've got a blizzard of awesome, and it's totally hot. Wrap your head around that for a moment, and follow me.

Threadless was deadly this week. Selecting was difficult, but I decided to start with Backup Band by dpsullivan. It's awash in retro '50s awesome, and looks like something that could come from the title shots of some jazz-era film. I can picture the little blobby guys rocking back and forth as the man plays the piano and the names of old stars I can't place the faces of fade in off to the side. It's all about style here... the idea is fine and good, but it's the classic feel that really makes this worth talking about. It's really a success in that way.

Also dabbling in a much more retro style is Igo2cairo and his piece, The Fantastic Voyage. It's presented as an old-timey ad, and the piece itself seems to come from that very era... it's like seeing some new-fangled flying machine in the paper. I love the textures allowed via the simulated process print, but I also love the bright, aqua portholes on the airborne submarine. They bring in a very welcome splash of color, almost like jewels. Of course, the little seafolk in the windows add charm to the scene... it seems only logical that an old submarine would be a perfect vessel for sealife to travel in. The great thing here, though, is that it's a total class act of a design. Sure, it's done with a sense of humor, setting the sub aloft on balloons and all, but at the end of it all, it's an incredibly tasteful piece more than anything. It sits wonderfully on the chest, it's bold and visible but not loud. The clouds are attractive and interesting, but subtle, making them a solid, unobtrusive backdrop. It's just a very skillful piece, and one that is meant to grace a shirt.

Working the brown-scale in another way is Good Night by Againstbound, who has now graced CW more often than some of my favorite designers. This isn't to imply that AB doesn't do great work, though, and this piece should go some way to proving it. I love the idea of the moon holding a candle in this early evening scene... it looks through the mountains at the small hamlet pictured like a parent checking in on their young child. It's quite touching in an odd way. The browns really help give that idea of a dim, flickering flame being the main light source. Like IG2C, there's a smart use of that lovely aqua color in the lake, and the little houses are incredibly charming... it all feels like it was pulled out of a totally awesome kids book.

Saying hello to us for the first time in a little bit is Design By Humans, which required less decisions but still had more to commend it than could fit in our little blog. One of my choices simply had to be She Dies by Matej. It's the sort of thing I love seeing at DBH... something totally off the beaten path. This is that in spades... the main figure is simply tweaked, like the creepiest little Hummel figurine ever. It's very much a collage piece, but it's one which has more to it... it seems to fit together to tell an untellable story. I think that's one of the best bits to this: there's no definitive concept, but there's a lot to speculate over. It's attractive in a certain brash and unconventional way, too, with the blue webby spans at the top. It's a bit of an oddball piece, but I enjoy how it pushes boundaries... there's no doubt that you have probably never seen anything quite like it.

Much less hard to justify though is Delft, by handsforeyes. The color scheme is reminiscient of antique china... you KNOW your mother or grandmother has a piece with this color scheme, this very blue standing bold against the pure white of the plate. The embellishment at the bottom of the design makes me feel the artist knew exactly what he was evoking here. Instead of pointless pattern and filigree, though, we get a lovely little vignette from the woods. It keeps the innocence such vignettes so often have... there's no question the guy with the gun is about to dispatch the boar to the roasting pan in the sky, but that's not what we're seeing. It's more like a still life... the symbol of the wild, the bounty for the hunter, the retreat for the child, the natural freedom shown via the birds. It's not here to tell us of the hunt, but to build up a nostalgia for everything the simple life may entail. Simple, however, feels a poor choice of word when looking at this. The art is such beautiful whimsy, and very skillfully done... I'd love to be able to see this in print.

Next contest watch comes on Christmas. And yes, you'll be getting it then. I know the next two weeks are probably among the busiest in the year around the world. I hope that when you have a breather, you'll still continue spending it with me here.

1 comment:

derek said...

Thanks for the review! I'm glad you like my design.