Welcome back from your holiday, readers. I'm glad you've survived your turkey comas... as for me, I had some scanning to do when I came out of mine. My overly sleepy list is as follows.
Threadless, as followers may know, has been in the midst of their "Threadless Loves Horror" competition, and it's... well, really boring to me. There's a lot of good illustration without good shirts, lots of cartoon gore and live-traced shadows, and lots of Hot Topic inspiration. It just feels very flat and very un-Threadless. Which I think is why ninety's Horrors, while among the last, is quite possibly my favorite. It has plenty of horror elements... the wolf, the cemetary, the skeleton and ghosts, but it puts it all together in a way that says "oh yeah, that's where I bought this." The style is great, with plenty of detail, but done organically, with a hand-drawn feel. The colors work perfectly as well. And there's a lot to see here... I'm personally loving all the different hands coming out of everywhere. The biggest thing for me, though, is it's not a Halloween design. Most of what has come out of this competition has left me cold because the wearable timeframe is so small without painting your eyes black and becoming an Avenged Sevenfold fan... I really appreciate seeing a shirt that can be rocked year-round without diminishing its relation to the theme, while being wearable even if you don't care for the theme.
Also on the list of things I dislike: text shirts. So I was obviously surprised and pleased to see Off the Grid by dacat. It's the way the art plays with the text that makes it perfect... it could have still been effective even without the lettering, but turning each house into a letter (I especially love the subtle way he created the Fs) adds a dash of extra creativity instead of making it feel spelled out. Also contributing to this piece being a step above other art/text ideas is that there is an actual statement here... it's not just the word "snake" written snakily, it's illustrating a concept and furthermore promoting it in the illustration. Put more simply, the drawing makes as strong a statement on its own as the words do. This shirt is doubly an anomaly for me because it includes a glow-ink use that I find stellar... when the lights are out, the house that is using renewable and natural energy is still lit. It's a subtle detail, but a powerful one, and it helps hammer home the shirt's message, making it a totally worthy print.
After some serious work at Threadless, shirt.woot is all up in my cute grill again this week. The "Thrift" derby was mostly a bust, like other civic or monetary related derbies, and the text allowance as always lessened the quality quotient, but there were a couple gems in the rough, starting with Artulo's Thrifty Fill-Up. I think what makes this for me most is the face on the ketchup bottle... it's simple yet conveys such a blind happiness, not realizing the horror he is putting fort (or maybe he does and is just too sadistic to care). Similarly the packets, by their posture and even simpler "faces," are pretty clearly worried. The variety of red tones against the creme shirt work well for me, also. It's conceptually twisted, with a dose of "how'd someone think of that," and it works ever so well to me.
Somewhat cuter and less destructive is Dekonstruct's Thrift Monster. Depicting the monster as a bit nerdy seems off-base to me considering woot's demographics and glorification of the blindest form of capitalism, but everything else about this is pretty sweet to me. The designer has a way with knowing just how to work cartoony, simple art into an offbeat concept and just make it totally on-point. This is a piece that uses text to skillful advantage. The Generic Village Folk make me think of the boxes my family used to have in the basement full of used and re-used Christmas decorations... it gives the impression that not only did the monster save on his purchase by going generic, but that he's long been using the same box for maximum thrift. More than that, though, is his Box-O-Growl. I really don't think I could love anything as much as I love that concept. If anyone wants to get me something for the holidays, make it a box-o-growl. It'll be the best thing ever.
Finally, to Uneetee, which I've talked up much this week. The sale is still going on, but more important to this post is their $3000 New Year Kickoff design contest. All current entries are eligible, as well as all entries entered from now until December 31st. I, of course, expect to see lots of awesome filtering in, and lots of desperate crap trying to make a quick triple-grand. Until then, there is always the current crop, including Mechanical Island by Boots. I think what I love most about this is how little sense it makes... a fish on a bicycle that somehow powers an island? But it's done in a totally charming style, and the color palette works great on the shirt. I like how it sits on the shirt, also, taking up most of the height, but retaining a slim graphic. It's not always easy to explain just why you like something, but for me and for this, it's a matter of quirky concept and just plain liking how it all comes together. If that's enough for me, it should be enough for you.