Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tee-cember: We Wish You a Merry Shirtsmas

The holidays are largely about giving and spending time with friends and family, to me. I think that's what it boils down to no matter how you celebrate, or which holiday you consider your own. It doesn't matter if you're giving to charity or your children, spending time with your college friends or your church family, that's still the crux of the season. As such, I feel it's vital to give you a run-down of some shirts out there from my extended "family," the people I've rooted for, the people who have tolerated me, the people I cut my shirt-elitist teeth with. It is my hope that you will, in return, give them your business.

I don't think I could start this little rundown without mentioning We3Tees, a spreadshirt shop which even sounds Christmas Carol-y, featuring the combined talents of wooters twallis, Soothedbyrainfall, and the ubiquitous tgentry (TGWA, to you Threadlessites). Being three wise design minds, it's simply one of the most well-rounded print on demand shops you'll stumble across. There will always be a part of me that wants to give Mr. Gentry a "what were you thinking" shake for not pushing "Mine!" (above left) at other contests, but what he may have lost in prize money, you gain in being able to snag one of woot's most legendary losses right now. Just as legendary in my mind is Soothedbyrainfall's "Barnyard Apocalypse" (above right), inspired by Cake's "Sheep Go To Heaven." It takes a special sort of shirt to entice me into a print-on-demand site, and this is one I've wanted long enough to go all in when I can. In fact, the designers may as well guarantee you'll find SOMETHING you wanted before, or something you didn't even realize you wanted. Definitely worth the browsing.

You'll note, then, that this entry is going to largely feature personal printshops of the on-demand variety, perfectly viable sale options that just don't seem to get the right exposure due to how much clutter there is in the market. The only way to get less exposure, perhaps, is to not promote at all. Former woot designer Gargrazz has a shop with this issue, but also has a shirt worthy of that promotion. "In Case of Emergency, Tear Shirt" is your step-by-step guide to Hulkamania, and a perfect gift for wrestling fans of the non-shirt-tearing variety. In all honesty, though, the humor is such that any survivor of the '80s should be able to appreciate it, especially how the "safety instruction" style is blended with the characterization which makes the joke. Worth checking out, brotherrr.

I've discussed my totally heterosexual love for Dekonstruct before in this blog, but it is worth noting specifically that he not only has a web comic which is sadly on hiatus (though that means it's a great time to catch up!), but also has opened his own MySoti shop. One of my favorites, and I do have a couple, is Space Bunneh. Space Bunneh was an entry in woot's "Line Art" derby, and while there were scads of absolutely beautifully drawn entries, this struck me for being so simple and offbeat. The bunny aliens are wonderful, odd without sacrificing charm, but my money is on the carrot satellite for best detail. Do look through his other work too for more solid ideas in his unique style.

Someone else who knows how to rock the simple is friend-of-the-blog and super-commenter JadenKale, who rounds out the three most logical Print On Demand options with her Cafepress shop. While her Winter Cthulhu cards are totally worth it for the season, they simply aren't shirts, and SingulariCard makes no sense. Definitely check those out, but if you want apparel, her Garlic and Gaelic products are apt to be a big draw as well for anyone of Italian-Irish descent. I imagine it's biggest draw would be with new parents, as Jaden has wisely added onesies and plenty of junior apparel, but there's plenty of garb for the adult crowd, and even other options like coasters and a keepsake box (great idea, Cafepress) for those people who might feel they've outgrown wearing cute on their chest. For those of us who know you never really "outgrow" cute, though, it could be the perfect gift for your friends whose favorite sort of potato is covered in a tomato-basil sauce.

I know there are some of you who might not trust the Print-On-Demand scene, and that's understandable. There are definite limitations and differences from the regular screenprint process, and while I believe their work can and will look great with good shirt care, some people just want the real deal. For those people, I do urge reconsideration, but also offer you a couple "classic" style prints. On the one hand, we have Monster's Throne, a design from Anti-Clothes and woot's illustrious print guru, James Cho. It's selling down pretty quick, so now's the time to snag one, or else toss a reprint request toward the site. Quite the opposite is Robbie Lee's "The Summerai," which just won over at Springleap. Where Cho's is showing a shirt on its way to sold out, Robbie's is a shirt that doesn't even physically exist yet... Springleap doesn't even seem to make the blanks until winners are announced. The con to this is a wait: if you order your Summerai now, it will probably arrive closer to spring. The pro, though, is grabbing a shirt so new that you won't be running into sell-out issues. At least, one presumes you won't. Better yet, when you do finally have it in your hot little hands, it'll be fresh off the presses. It might not be ideal for a Christmas gift, but you should certainly consider it for your post-Christmas money.

This all leads to an important request on behalf of this blog. I am but one set of eyes, and you are apparently hundreds. Are you a popular designer (woot, threadless, etc) with a small print-shop, whether On-Demand or otherwise? Let me know. I'm not gonna love all of you, so I offer no guarantee of mention, but I also don't want to miss out on something I want to share. Have you seen a shirt I've talked up in a Contest Watch up for sale at a more obscure shop I might have missed? I'd love to hear about it. Send me an email at 5songsinc@gmail.com, and I'll get around to it.


Jaden Kale said...

Love the write up and you certainly got a great line up today. I'm honored to be mentioned along with Tgentry, twallis, soothedbyrainfall, as well as Cho, Robbie (grats at springleap again, man), and the others. Awesome job to everyone, especially Adder for enlightening us to some awesome designs on a weekly basis.

soothedbyrainfall said...

Thanks for the write up Adder. We really appreciate the compliments, especially when coming from someone with such discerning taste!

robbielee said...

Thanks, Jaden!

Just now got to your blog, Adder- it's great! And lo and behold- there's me! Thanks for the nod.