Thursday, December 25, 2008

Contest Watch: Week of December 18

Given that it is Christmas, I would like to wish you all a merry one without the PC "holiday" tag. I wish no less of a happy Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or Solstice to those who celebrate, but the day is what it is, and it's foolish to sidestep it. I hope both those celebrating and those not have a wonderful day. And apologies to those not in the Big Four of Winter Holidays above... may your traditions be joyful as well. For now, let us celebrate some possible future prints, culled this holiday from the Big Four of Shirt Contests

We start at Design By Humans, with one of last week's featured artists, Torakamikaze. He has given us a magical world of armadillos with Burrowish. The concept is pretty left field, but still very charming... a magical wish-giving armadillo? Sign me up! When I was in Texas I insisted that I was going to search for armadillos... I think this would be a fair consolation prize for my failure. My quirks aside, though, I love the textures of the character, the flow of the magic lamp smoke and the earthy palette, very appropriate for a critter who is known for his digging capacities. It almost looks like he's cuddling up with magic. Deadly aww-inspiring.

Possibly DBH's polar opposite on the average quality spectrum (AQS, Patent Pending) is shirt.woot, now in the final gasps of an art based derby which is proving that wooters simply don't get art. Nevertheless, there was also the proof of potential in the community, if only people put in the effort, and I feel it could be summed up in DeadFrog's "...been hanging around this old town too long." It's what woot is at its best... a site for amateur designers to wow us with non-amateur-looking work. Here, I'm not entirely sold on the placement... it feels a bit too high, maybe too scootched to the side (though I do quite dig the side option). Still, if it is not the "best shirt" in the derby, nor the one I was rooting hardest for, it is the only one I would consider buying. Maybe it's my creme fetish (and the brown used works perfectly), but what it boils down to is two things. First, I love how it looks... from afar it's gorgeous, or so the mock-up leads me to believe, with a bit of a more rustic feel to the big city, but up close there is an imperfection I really like... style is often in the imperfections. I also like that those lines give a puzzle piece feel, helping the connectivity of the infinity symbol construction. Moreover, the lines make sense. Some of the entries were full of lines for the sake of theme, but here every line is in the construction. Second, though, I like the concept, or at least as I read it. I see the idea that every day in this particular city is exactly like every other.. the same byways and travel routes and eating at the same cafe and taking the same subway to the same job and back and hanging out at the same bar with the same guys every night. I've been to this town, so it resonates.

So, have I mentioned this little contest Uneetee's having? It's basically their regular contest, only they're picking one single shirt currently in the running to win $3K. It was a pretty smart idea, to be honest, because their sometimes slow contest has been a bit brisker lately, and looks to only get better, which can only mean more and better shirts to choose for their regular contest once this promo is over. The fore-runner for the big bucks, though, as far as I'm concerned, is Jimiyo's "Savour the Voyage." I am simply at a loss for words on this one. Jimi's a hell of a designer, but this is one of the few that speaks to me personally. The depth and texture is impressive, for starters... that it could be achieved with Uneetee's four-color limit is amazing. I also love the power in the nautical theme here... there's a whole story being told between the focal point of the ship and the stunning heraldry around it, without really needing to elucidate on that story. As I said though, words mostly escape me. I simply love it, and think it's intensely wearable.

For all you Jokers out there asking "why so serious?" over the last few picks, there is indeed something for your funny bone at Threadless: "I Found the Problem!" by Alvarejo. The illustration here is still top notch... there's a lot of character in the armor, and the lights fade as lights should, much as the shadows fall well too. I'm also a sucker for the color interplay (and I -know- I don't own that shirt color). But what makes it, and makes it so right for Threadless, is the joke itself. The juxtaposition of medieval times with modern. The absurdity of a knight in full armor traipsing through a metal detector. The idea that he can't see the forest for the trees, pulling out a key as the likely offender causing the oppressive sirens. It's an amusing non-sequitor, a scene that appears to come straight from a Monty Python sketch. The only thing I'm not entirely sold on is the size. It feels big, and from me that's saying something. Still, the size of the graphic inhabits the shirt so there's still plenty of negative space, and it makes the whole thing bolder, putting stronger attention on the art and not just the joke. Which, on a shirt like this, can only help, especially at a site which rewards humor and art in equal measure.

Finally, a quick writeup on Jelly Tape, by Kooky Love. A former Threadless contender turned Uneetee entry, it just narrowly missed a writeup the first time I saw it, and I'm not going to be remiss again. I love cassette tapes, even if I don't use them. They provide an immediate nostalgia for me, as I used to put more care into mix tapes than I did to homework. What I love love love about this shirt, though, is the specialty ink idea. The colors shimmer enough as they are, but with gold foil it would do so even more, recalling the shine of the tape itself. Similarly, a white flock would add a little texture to the whole shebang. It's perhaps a doubly tired theme, sea life and cassette nostalgia, but I feel this particular entry does both proud.

I think there might be another quickie in a couple hours, so be on the lookout. And yeah, enjoy the holidays, eh?


alvarejo said...

Thanks so much for that!!! Great blog you have

jimiyo said...

sweet Adder. I was thinking about you and your writing the other day. i was reading some intense brainy blog and i was thinking it could be something you could have done.

I didnt know you had this blog. excellent outlet for your affinity for shirts and writing. frickin awesome actually. a perfect fit! glad to see you be exercising your skill/talent publicly.

all these thoughts were prior to finding your kind reviews on my shirt, so they are real, not reciprocated respect. (curtsy!)

that blog i stumbled on: