Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tee-cember: The Shirts Off Your Back

Thanks to Pop Culture Tees for the lead on this'un, which might be one of the more interesting things to follow in 2009.

Do you know this guy? After this year, you might be very well acquainted. His name is Jason, the mind behind IWearYourShirt.com. The concept is what it sounds like... Jason (shown left in his last shirt of 2008) is selling his body out as advertising. Each day in 2009, he will be sporting a new set of threads from a new sponsor. Most of them seem to be corporate... there are some web design companies and charities and even a winery in the first month, but there are some shirt companies scattered throughout as well, and a number of unspecified but sold days, which could throw in an intriguing wild card. Ustream is the first sponsor, getting the coveted $1 spot, with each successive spot costing as much as the day's value (ie: December 31st, the final day of the year, would cost $365). The whole to-do intrigues me for its novel approach to both marketing and generating income, and while I've received enough free promotional shirts to know that most suck pretty hard, I'm interested to see how the year goes for the site. Most of the later dates are still available for purchase if you've got a decent advertising budget and a shirt for Jason to wear. I personally hope to see this ingenious little idea pay off both for its mastermind and those of us tuning in for a unique blog experience and maybe even some swanky tees.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tee-cember: A Minor New-Year Miracle

Two deal-a-days. Two budget tees. Two completely buyable designs. In all honesty, the idea that I could love a teefury AND a shirt.woot on the same day is a fully new and baffling feeling, but one I quite enjoy. My only regret is not being able to buy them.

Above is the TeeFury offering, an anti-humor piece called Life Is Complicated (by Lehel Kovacs). I quite enjoy it, with that bland sigh coming out of the horn's bell. It could be the frustration of playing a new instrument (as Lehel suggests it may), or it could be a joke that such a normally bold and blaring instrument would put out but a sigh, or it could be a French Horn's lament, knowing that to most, it is a frivolous piece of brass. Whatever the case, it's an outside-the-box piece, which is enough to make me love it, even the positioning... what others see as too high, I see as ideal, having the horn positioned about where a real one would need to be to play it.

As for shirt.woot, as the year dies, so does their shirt offering. Dale Edwin Murray is the person responsible here, with a piece called Death Stare. There sure is a lot of staring going on, too. It's a little unsettling, but I love the eyes, simple as they are. I also love the drippy comma-ghosts, each one bringing something a bit different to the party, and I appreciate the blue background, not only for its welcome splash of color, but because it creates a contrast, not only between the shirt and itself, but acting as a canvas for the darker elements of the design, helping them show up against the asphalt, which would otherwise likely swallow them up. In general, this is the sort of thing I'd like to see more of at woot... think creative, attractive, and wearable. Instead of a cute twee shirt, why not have something which is both adorable and a little morbid. Morbidorable. All I can hope for is that I'll be able to snag one in randoms.

As always, remember: TeeFury shirts WILL NOT EXIST tomorrow, unless they get optioned elsewhere at a later date. Thusfar that's been the vast exception to the rule, so if you want this at all, your only guaranteed chance (and your cheapest chance, at that) will be to snatch it up in the next 21 hours. As for woots, you'll probably have a two-week window after today to buy it at $15, but as with all dailies, and indeed almost all woot shirts worth wearing, I cannot presume this particular one will last any longer than that. As always, the early bird catches the worm, so grab it now to make sure you don't lose out.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Tee-cember: Our first Threadless updates.

Welcome back to the blog. Forgive me for my extended absence... 25 days of blogging (and a holiday to recover from) can be exhausting.

With the year drawing to a close, it is sometimes worth taking an inventory of what you've done the year before. In the case of this blog, I've been averaging over 2000 hits a month. I have no clue how many are unique, but for someone who is convinced he's small time, it seems like solid numbers for an upstart, so I'm quite proud, and excited to see what the new year holds. I am also proud of my 17 contest watch segments, largely because in four measly months, 7 of the pieces I talked up have seen print. Those last two can be seen at Threadless this week.

My pick of the week, by far, goes to Death and Colours (week of 10/16) by Thiagob. It made every bit an attractive shirt as I presumed it would, and even with recent Mathiole prints that revel in similar simulated process color splashes, it still stands out as unique against the average Threadless shirt. It's a definite buy as soon as I can justify a new Threadless shirt... I -did- just get my 8 in from the holiday sale.

Earlier than all that (week of 10/9), I talked up another design with a much different but still definite artistry: The Mouse Tamer by Phillydesigner. This one is definite Threadless, mixing the art with humor to bring us a mouse taming an elephant. Or a mouse gymnastic troupe showing off their finale. Whatever the case, it always seemed like it was meant for Threadless to me, and it's good to see exactly that through its printing.

Half the fun of this blogging thing is seeing truly wearable and creative content get its day in the sun. It comes as no surprise, then, that my favorite part is seeing a piece come from a lowly submission to a full-blown print. It's something I hope we can rejoice in together more often in 2009.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tee-cember: Deer Brethren? Hoorah!

For starters, today only, shirt.woot is Random Shirt-ing. Not only that, but right now they're available in ALMOST all sizes. Normally by this point all the best sizes are sold down. Like surprises? At $6.66 a pop, free shipping, it could be worth it. And if not, there's always TeeTrade.

Also worth considering, probably even more so, is Design By Humans, which has launched a post-holiday sale. It's your standard DBH sale-points... approx. 20% off all their tees. Except this sale, we're looking at $10 tees also. This is nearly 50% off on their cheaper options, but there are even some of their higher-priced wares selling for $10, making nearly 60% off. If you've never gone to DBH, NOW is the time. The sale ends Jan. 4, and as I'm sure you recall from the Threadless sale, the faster you bite, the more chance you'll get what you want.

One shirt I am mos. def. picking up is The Suspended by Tervaja. It's awesome, to put it simply, and features a majestic springbok. The illo is plenty nice, and the red elements give it a very modern and unique look, but the horns are the true focal point here. Not only are they very attractively done, but they extend over the shoulders and down the back like long braids. It makes the shirt incredibly unique... maybe not ideal for sweater weather, but when the spring and summer come along, this is the sort of awesomeness that is going to rock everyone who sees you's world. This was a given for me the second I saw it, but $10 for a shirt this special makes it a must buy for anyone who is a bit unsettled by that hideous holiday sweater they got-or-are-getting-later.

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?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tee-cember: Then, One Rainy Christmas Eve

We always go down to my grandparents' place for Christmas Eve. It's an Italian thing, La Vigilia... the vigil, for laymen. It's a religious tradition, the vigil being for the baby Jesus, but the only thing I really know about it is that we eat a lot of fish. We used to have all manner of things, but as time has gone on, and I've become more of a seafood fan, everyone else down that way grew up not being a huge fan. Still, we get the fried salt-cod and scallops and shrimp and my favorite, the pasta with the fish sauce. I presume it's sort of like the Lent fish thing... I don't really know. I'm not really up on my religious tradition.

Point is, when I was younger, my family insisted we could see Rudolph from my grandparents' picture window. We sat by the window, and holy fuck! I totally saw his nose blink! How convenient that there was a radio tower within view of the house... not that I was about to figure that out, but even as I started piecing things together, I'd still check for "Rudolph," and without fail, he'd always be in the area, just waiting for us to get home and go to bed. It was one of those images that always makes me think of the real magic of this season.

It's with this in mind that I chat up Springleap this last day before the day. The boys down in South Africa have finally got their printing back on track, it seems, so for those of you who might be wary of those seemingly lengthy spans of time between pre-orders, pretty much anything you order that's out now should be in stock and ready to ship within the next month. Personally, I've already spent some of my holiday cash before getting it. My sights are on Warholbot's Rein Dance, My Deer, September's big winner. There seem to be a lot of layers to this one... there's the rain dance itself, and the reindeer, but how it combines is interesting. The deer itself is entangled in the rain and clouds, so it could just be a play off the words, but with it clad in gold bands and a crown, it feels there could be a deeper undertone... maybe the deer is a rain god. More attractively, it might be an interplay between how important both the rain and the deer would be to the dancers below... the deer is accented in gold because that is how respected both elements must be for the sustenance they provided. And of course, the art ain't shabby either... it's powerful where the designer is more often odd, but that allows him to show his skill with details and texturing... the deer looks almost glossy under his pen, and otherworldly against the rest of the scene. It's a distinctly wintry deer, but with a palette making it suitable for any day, which makes this shirt perfect both to write up now, and to buy up for later.

Tomorrow, I -should- be around to toss together a Contest Watch, but as you might not be around to read it, I hope whatever you do on your holidays is awesome. This last week of December should be replete with daily posts as well, so definitely check back, because there WILL be post-holiday sales to report, and I, for one, cannot wait.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tee-cember: The Bleakest of Midwinters

Christmas is a time to remember the good times. Y'know, like those times when you got good gifts instead of inevitable boxes of socks or rolls of stamps. Remember when your aunt would get you something awesome instead of a tub of popcorn? Yeah, those were good times. But it's also a time to be happy for what we still have. Consider this sad little dude to your left. All his friends are dead. Makes your shit seem trivial, don't it?

Want to make his holiday happier? Take him home! You can find him at Big Stone Head, a small humor shirt purveyor which, if nothing else, takes home the prize for awesome site names. They also seem to have a couple somewhat fresh jokes, which is not only rare but appreciated. This particular shirt attracted me less for the joke (lol dinos are extinct lol) but more for the awkward and confused look of the dinosaur itself. It doesn't seem to know how to react to the news. The simple style is ideal also... you don't want to over-reach with this sort of idea. More than that, though, I enjoy the cute little guy juxtaposed with a morbid message. The store has other dead friend shirts, which makes one wonder why the poor guys don't get together for coffee and become their own buddies, but this one is the best by a country mile. I do, however, recommend checking out and perhaps picking up their book on the subject. Sometimes we just don't know how good we have it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tee-cember: Hark, Selects and Updates Sing!

In the spirit of the holidays, I'd like to regale you with a couple of T-shirt carols:

Joy to the world, for Jublin prints!
Let Earth receive his tee!
Let every drawer prepare him room
And Designing Humans sing!
And Designing Humans sing!
Designing, Designing Humans sing!

Joy to the Earth, his shirt is called
You Just Can't Kill The Beast!
Its size & style are worth your praise
Perhaps you should buy 4?
Perhaps you should buy 4?
Perhaps, perhaps you should buy 4!

He rules the day with awesome squid
And DBH does prove
The prescience of my contest watch
Dated October 3, Dated October 3
Oh dated, oh dated October 3!

O Fishy Tee, O Fishy Tee,
How truly sweet your graphic?
O Fishy Tee, O Fishy Tee,
How truly sweet your graphic?
This week you earn all our respect
At Threadless, as their new Select.
O Fishy Tee, O Fishy Tee,
How truly sweet your graphic?

O Fishy Tee, O Fishy Tee,
You're titled I Love Sushi.
O Fishy Tee, O Fishy Tee,
I also do love sushi.
You do depict an animal
Both businesslike and cannibal
O Fishy Tee, O Fishy Tee,
I'll wear you out to sushi.

O Fishy Tee, O Fishy Tee,
Your line work does excite me.
O Fishy Tee, O Fishy Tee,
Your color scheme delights me.
You plain and simple rock the house.
I'm glad you made this, Flying Mouse!
O Fishy Tee, O Fishy Tee,
Don't sell out quick to spite me.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tee-cember: A Cold Day in Hell

Shirt.woot has been in what can only be called a slump if you're a kindly soul, so today's offering is incredibly welcome, and not only because I almost went blogless tonight. They call it Nuclear Winter, and it's by Steven Lefcourt. It's pretty solidly a winter shirt, but thankfully winter is a damn long season up in the north. I like the fact that it's artistic finally... not only are the skeletons done simply but skillfully, but the colors are cold. Sure, the white is a given, but the purple/blue used for shading gives me a chill just looking at it. It also has deadly humor (I love the hats and mittens) and a subtle commentary to it. And if for nothing else, the artist insists he did not live trace a photo for this. As woot has stood lately, that should be enough to support this design to the ends of the earth.

You should know how woot works by now... this will be on sale at $10 today only, but you can grab it for $15 until it's reckoned. If you miss it today, grab it right here. Just make it fast... this one is looking pretty popular so far, but there's never a guarantee that a woot shirt will last past its first reckoning... in this case, the first monday of the new year. I'm crossing my fingers for longer, but life, and certainly shirt.woot, knows no guarantees.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tee-cember; God Rest Ye, Limited T-Shirt Deals

A couple limited-time only deals to discuss today. For starters, Uneetee is starting the back-half of the third sale they've had this season, based on the 12 days of Christmas. Today's deal offers all tees at $13, and $2 flat shipping on all orders for US/Canada, but it'll be worth checking back daily, both for new deals and for their $10 Insanitees (today's being Pick Up the Peace, tailor made for any classic rocker who's a fan of The Who).

Definitely head over to Teefury today as well and check out Edgar R. McHerly's "Stream of Consciousness" (shown left), a thought-provoking and evocative piece. It combines his cartoony and artistic sides in one design. This is the sort of thing that makes this particular designer so exciting... he's not afraid to go hyper-artistic on us, and his unique style and distinct frame of mind give us a glimpse into a totally different world. It's good to finally see more of his signature work printing, as his successes often come from his least distinctive pieces. Even if you're not into the shirt, at least stop by for the beautiful but macabre poem included in his sidebar portfolio. And don't forget, as with all TeeFury shirts, this one is gone-zo forever at midnight tomorrow (EST).

Finally, in the world of apparel the tshirt is king, but over at Inkhound, they're polygamous. Inkhound's new-ish, and actually combine a little bit of both the sites above: they feature one shirt a week (or so), like Uneetee, after which the shirt is no longer available through them, much like Teefury. Also like TF, the rights remain with the designers, so they can market their shirts themselves or anywhere that will take a slightly used design. The difference? Along side each shirt is a hat, with the same sale time and same rights-retention. The current one is from Compete-Tee-Tion's MJ. It's based off an old shirt design, Professor Von Platypus, and while I'd much rather have the monocle wearing, mustache sporting bizarro mammal on a shirt, the contract means it's ever possible, and the hat looks incredibly swank for so limited... the image is embroidered on, for starters, so it's going to look as high quality as your buddy's Local Sports Team lid, but it'll be a lot more fun, loads more distinctive, and start far fewer pissing contests among fans of other animals. With all this going on, surely something out there might strike you today.

Tee-cember: They Call Me Shirt-Miser

Design by Humans has been conspicuous in its absence for the last month in my write-ups. It's partly due to their VonZipper sponsored competition, which announced winners last week. It's partly due to their holiday sale ending before December hit full swing. But it's also because somewhere along the line, DBH seemed to forget they once had a $19 price point. To me, having some shirts debut at $19 made the more expensive ones more justifiable... "well, I've got two cheaper shirts, so I can toss in this 24-dollar one." It was always something a little special, so the price tag was worth it. Lately, it's felt that shirts that would have been cheaper beforehand are just defaulting to $24. It's not a practice I want to encourage, but nevertheless, this week provided a couple tees that just might be worth that extra splurge.

Torakamikaze's Enchanted Nightmare straddles the price line to me, given that it is a good sized discharge print. Even so, though, to me it's more than worth the consideration anyway. It's gorgeous in a dark way. The colors are wonderful together (and it doesn't hurt that the hooded wraiths remind me of Mumm-Ra). I love how the linework doesn't appear to be anything but the shirt itself, which really integrates it into the blank well. I love the details and characterization, the textures on everything and the way the spirits in the background look (a bit of maniacal whimsy) and fill up the scene. Everything about it falls into place just right, and while I'm not fully swayed from appreciation to purchase, it is far and away the most tempting new shirt DBH has put across in a month.

Also straddling that very line: DCAY's "Wild Things." It's got my love this week for a number of the same things Tora did above, but in totally different ways. The colors for example... DCAY goes classic and rustic here, which works wonders with the style and concept of the piece. The linework is also similarly attractive, with simple, delicately lined leaves melding with animals that look like classic woodcuts. The kicker here is the use of transparencies, and the ways those transparencies work... sometimes the leaves are printed over the animals, sometimes they only show through the empty space in the linework, and still other times the animal is obscured, as if the leaf is no longer transparent. It gives a great sense of how nature relates to itself... how ecosystems rely on each other, and how animals can inhabit their surroundings. Or maybe I'm just reading too much into a simple and highly wearable nature shirt. That certainly doesn't make this any less tempting, and the full-frontal print assuages the guilt of the price a tad, also.

Also making things a bit more guiltless: DBH is donating $1 from each shirt sold this season to Toys for Tots. It's no price break for you, the shirt buyer, but it's an easy and painless way to give without even making an effort.

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.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tee-cember: The Reason for the Season

A hot tip from a half-hour in the future: prolific designer Jimiyo's blog has a hot tip regarding tonight's print at TeeFury, where he helps as curator. Starting at midnight, EST, until midnight Friday, TF will be selling his design, Hope. While normally, I'd be a bit unlikely to talk up a one-day design I didn't love, especially one chosen by its own artist, this one has a deeper purpose: Jimi will be donating his profits to a local charity.

Of course, that alone isn't enough to get a shirt on my blog, but when you're dealing with Jimiyo, there's always a reason to praise the product. He's a master of text, always hand rendered and always thematic, not slogan-y. When he uses it, it's to bolster the illustration, not to explain it. There's also the impeccable detail, the super-smooth lines, and the gorgeous texture. In this piece, the colors kill... the sea-foam green especially makes this unique and pops off the black like nobody's business, yet the unconventional color combo is done skillfully so it looks just right. Also in this piece, it's all about concept... the phoenix coming up from the flames is all about hope, but the flames on the heart bring it back to the human experience, and how true hope burns within us. There's a reason Jimi's so respected artistically... this design helps show it, and with his affable persona and generous intentions on this print, I'm proud to be able to tell you to head to TeeFury any time Thursday and pick this up.

As always, don't forget that TeeFury prints for 24 hours. That's it. Finito. No guarantee you'll see it anywhere again. If this is calling to you, and there are myriad reasons it might, you shouldn't dally.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tee-cember: Carving the Roast Beast

I'd like to thank the fine folks at Cottonable for leading me to today's feature, because it is one of my new favorite things ever.

The store is called Family Dinner For One. The name has nothing to do with shirts, unless you are perhaps a moth, but the store definitely is about them. It's a do-it-yourself operation out of the Boston area, making them pretty local and all the more worth writing about here. The shirts are hand-screened, which certainly is a nice personal touch, but better yet is the sense of tripped-out humour evident in each of their shirts. It's not a huge selection, but there are a number of winners. To me, the standout is the Pizza Or Die trilogy, which I am hoping to see in theaters this summer. You'll note two of the designs at the side; the third involves nunchaku. Awesome? Sure. But not as awesome as a shark and a bass guitar. This should give you a bit of an idea as to what sort of thing you're going to see here; if you're the sort of person who needs your shirts to "make sense," you are incredibly the wrong sort of person for FDF1. For the rest of us, there's something incredibly charming about the juxtaposition of the baker, looking like he was ripped straight from your local pizzeria's box, presenting not a pie but something totally unrelated. It's like a Monty Python shirt... the humor bends reality in much the same way. And it's awesome.

My only problem? Can I justify two nearly identical shirts in my wardrobe? To that end, if I cannot, how does one choose between a shark and a guitar? Feel free to weigh in on this weighty matter, readers. Your efforts will be appreciated.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tee-cember: Threadless Holiday Sale Finale

The final week of Threadless' extensive holiday sale is upon us, and there are some serious discounts. Like what? Like at least 10% off all orders over $50 (as high as 20% for orders over $100, so if you've still got a massive cart, you can be seeing $20, $40, $60 off your bill). I personally like free shipping more, but that's maybe cheap of me. For the rest of you, this is pretty epically awesome.

Epically awesome comes in many forms, but one such form is RED, by Roadkill3d. I shouldn't need to enumerate the reasons why, because it should be obvious. The rendering is perfect... rarely do you see realism as real. The background elements turn back the real, and let the character be the main focus... I love how even the hyper-skilled drawing fades simpler toward the edges. Then again, there's not much to not love. The concept blends fantasy and humor, with a hefty dose of darkness and a little sexiness... it's like one big pulp shirt. Fairytale noir. It takes a child's tale, and makes every last bit of it mature in all the right ways. I'd go so far as to say that hating this shirt is like hating To Kill A Mockingbird: it's beautiful and elegantly composed and sums up all the potential and power of the medium... you don't need to love it, but you need to appreciate what it is. If this was the standard all shirts were held to, we'd need to do way more laundry, because there simply wouldn't be many to go around. Entire sites wouldn't exist. And that's all while thinking the print is maybe a tad too small on the finished product... this would be devastating otherwise. I'll be the first to admit that I'm glad to have simpler fare around, but we should consider ourselves lucky that there are people who can elevate a shirt to more than a consumable, but to something which is both incredibly artistic and incredibly wearable.

Of course, the other side of epic is knowing when simple is the way to go, such as kaloyster's "Friday, I'm in Love." Where "Red" should need no explanation to see why it is an amazing piece, this shirt may need some. Not that I'm giving it. When it comes right down to it, though, this is simply the sort of shirt that if you don't get it immediately, you shouldn't wear it. It's concept concept concept, and that makes up for a lot of things that should be flaws. The boxy design is forgivable because it gives it a calendar feel. The simple restroom man that is the main character oddly makes the charades he engages in all the more skillful that they came across so accurately. There is a time and place to use work this simple, and this is that time... the small space of each square makes detail a waste, and the infographic concept of this homage requires a simple, infographic look. It really is a homage to the original inspiration, too... there's clearly care put in, and some great subtle humor (I love the final Thursday, especially). There are lots of smart decisions also, like the consistant refusal to simply clone Tuesday and Wednesday... even cloned Friday at least flips back and forth on every other iteration. It's not something everyone will love, but I can't see how anyone not in on the joke wouldn't at least give a smile.

Get those Threadless orders in quicklike now... they're insisting over there that we won't see this sale come Christmas. This might be a time when your "purchase ban" should be broken, because nothing guarantees a post-Christmas sale, just like nothing guarantees a shirt will survive through the sale for you to pick up later even if there is one.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tee-cember: Have a Pricey, Slicey Christmas

I don't know about you, but I don't know anyone offhand who ever got a new car for Christmas. The auto industry can claim whatever they want in their commercials, but it doesn't happen. Maybe the independently wealthy do it, but they're independently wealthy. They're going to get some ludicrously expensive luxury car, not an everyday road warrior. Even for the rest of us, though, Christmas is often a time to splurge a little for our loved ones. Not ridiculously, but to sort of make a dream come true that any other time of year would be out of the question.

For our purposes, it is, as always, shirts. Anyone who has ever browsed a mall knows that clothing can come at a premium, and the web is no different. The biggest offenders are often foreign, in part due to exchange rates. As such, if you're looking for a shirt to end all shirts for your casual clothing companions, a place like Woven Flesh might be ideal. A shirt like Dagger is going to run you a little over $60, to say nothing of the shipping charges (if you're not in the EU, you'll probably want to make a true splurge and get at least two shirts to justify that one). By all appearances, though, it will be worth it. "Dagger" is a unique mix of Clue and nautical elements. Simple and stark color-wise, there's a lot of simple style going on with the piece. There's some bits mythological, some pure nautical, a number of sea creatures (I love the seahorse peeking out from the rope) and even a couple mystery elements. The anteater thingie is admittedly what draws my eye most, but it all comes together brilliantly.

There is still, of course, the question of how much is too much for clothing. To me, it's a matter of what it means to you. Most of us just aren't going to have a full wardrobe this expensive, but might have a couple special items that are worth it... that pair of pants that fits and feels perfect, the classy business jacket that looks amazing on you, and possibly the graphic tee that just calls to you with its graphic. It should be something special and rare, not something you buy on the drop of a dime. Sometimes that's part of the perfect gift, even if you decide that you're the recipient.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Tee-cember: I Wish Me a Merry Christmas

This time of year, many blogs will give out gift guides. Tech blogs will let you know the hottest gadgets. Amazon will make year end lists of the best books and CDs, as well as clue you into great gift choices. To be sure, the humble shirt blog is no different. If you search the blogosphere, you'll surely run into plenty of suggestions for everyone on your list's chest-covering needs. Here at SingulariTee, however, I wanted to give you a holiday guide with a difference. That's why I'm focusing my attention on a very underserved market: me. So if you have an Adder on your list, get out your pen, paper, and maybe a trusty credit card. I guess you can keep reading if I'm not on your list, too. Or you could add me. New friends!

1: Bears With Saws (shown above) - Pretty much the most epic thing ever. From TopatoCo, featuring web comic merch galore. A great stop for any fans of such strips as Dinosaur Comics, White Ninja, or A Softer World, but just as interesting, and sometimes moreso, to browse through unbiased. Half the fun on this shirt is not understanding the why of the ridiculous collage, and the other half is appreciating it anyway, as well as the sweet text job.

2: Captured Nostalgia - A simple drawing of a camera, but with much more impact. The black-on-white linework is stark and perfect, while the small stream of color gives a focal point to the piece. This shirt is perfect for photographers and dreamers and obviously me, and due to Threadless's swanky holiday sale, it's an easy and cheap decision to slip one into your cart while checking out for yourself. What's an extra $10, right?

3: Bees - Probably more logically titled "Elephant Head Man," this Heavy Tees shirt is something I dig for the bizarre factor, as well as the weathered feel and the colors. It's something I'd rock happily yet am tentative about biting the bullet on, which could make it a perfect surprise gift for anyone who loves oddities and surprises.

4: Das Einhörnchen (shown right) - It's adorable. It's a little evil. It's bloody well drawn. This little squirrelcorn is ideal for nearly anyone on the cute spectrum, whether in love with fuzzy bunnies or preferring a mix of creepy with their sweet. It's from A Better Tomorrow, which is a German site, so you'll give the extra gift of not making your loved one have to figure out German to get it.

5: The Great Gatsby - I've got to hand it to Urban Outfitters, the unlikely purveyor of this classic literature tee. It's easy to pass off retro film, music, even cartoons as hip fashion, but to suggest those same hipsters embrace classic literature is a pretty ballsy move. Still, it helps when the cover art is so gorgeously translated into a shirt, eschewing boxiness and opting for a navy backdrop and full-size print. As a lit nerd, I'd wear this proudly, though I'll be the first to admit part of my desire for it is to give me the proper kick in the pants to finish The Great Gatsby once and for all. If you have a Fitzgerald fan who is less of a slacker, or really any bookish sort, this could be a quite unique gift idea.

6: Avocado Man (shown left) - This one's specifically for my own sake. You're probably not going to come across this shirt.woot cult classic, because it's been reckoned away for well over a year now. Still, like those massive Lego space stations I always knew I'd never get, I have to include it. Part of the appeal is being outside the realm of what i'd normally try to scoop up. Part is the color combos. Part is that I want to imagine avocados looking like this in the wild. But what it comes down to is a desperate hunt... one of the ones that got away. If you find a copy, score for you, but if it's a men's XL, I will so hunt you down.

7: Intelligently Designed - You really can't get much simpler than this godly Cotton Factory tee. It makes a statement while remaining wearable and keeping an air of maturity in the mix. While evolution is certainly the theory of choice for the overwhelming majority of the educated, intelligent design IS evident in the tee, where the black outline and gold ink play against each other to give a brown look to the star of the shirt. A solid idea if you're looking for one more stocking stuffer for your favorite science-type, animal lover, or a gag gift for the yankee swap your Baptist neighbors are throwing.

8: Taft in the House - Love history, politics or bathtubs? Consider Amorphia Apparel, which also sells a handful of other tongue-in-cheek presidential designs. Taft's is the most family-friendly, but then, Taft is funny in general. The simple icon of an image helps keep the whole thing attractive, and while I, once again, stand by Amorphia's default suggestions, both in brown and blue, you can even create your own custom color combos. Just play it safe.

9: The Retort (shown right)- An exercise in absurdity, and frequent readers know I love me some absurdity. Big, Bold, and Colorful, like any good Design By Humans print, the designer sums it up as "a collage of public domain imagery with patterns and a touch of snobbery." Two out of three ain't bad for me! The color choices, the eyecatching patterns, and the big-ass fish make this ridiculously wearable and wearably ridiculous, but the speech bubble is the point of the shirt. Might be perfect for your favorite fisherman, but might be even more perfect for your favorite economist.

10: Black Ceremony - I don't understand "streetwear," which I believe this alleges to be, but I cannot help but be drawn to this Tank Theory tee. It's a double sided print with bold colors, beautiful flowing lines, and creepy shadow silhouettes. It's a great example of how a shirt can become wearable art. It also looks oh-so-very rockstar, which on its own is reason enough for me to be drawn to it. And because it's priced for indulgence only, it makes for a much more special gifting experience. Especially for the shirt-addict blogger who might not be able to afford it otherwise. Not that you know anyone like that.

Hopefully I've provided some fresh new ideas for the holidays. Sometimes it can be difficult to find something a little special and different, but you should be able to find something here that's just right for any size-XL-but-2X-at-Design-By-Humans on your list. Or probably people of other sizes. They might like them too.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tee-cember: Updates We Have Heard on High

Those of you who follow the shirt world may already be familiar with LoiterInk, most notably home of more Tom Burns designs than you can shake a stick at (it even houses a sequel/remix to his incredibly popular Threadless tee, Communist Party). Which is fine and good, but I'm much more concerned with telling you that shirt.woot Editor's Choice hopeful "Take a Picture" by lunchboxbrain has found its way to print there. It's a great little witty idea, and the camera has a very distinctive style and palette... I'm happy to see it find a home. A definite future purchase for me.

Loiter might be an even better option during the cold winter months, because they offer long sleeved shirts and hoodies along with the standard tees. They even let you pick from a variety of shirt color options, making your tee pretty damn custom. We at SingulariTee are a little wary of custom colors. We tend to believe that an artist picked a tee color for a reason, and for this reason we recommend the lighter options like it's original creme, or else the suggested gold; however, we are also inexplicably drawn to the teal tee option, and may well cave to that whim.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Contest Watch: Week of December 4

This was a rather incredible week for a couple sites, to the point where once again, we'll be seeing but two featured in this week's Contest Watch. You know the drill at this point: allow me to be a ho-ho-ho for a couple gifts I want under my tree next year.

We start off with Workshop by ISABOA, reprising his role in his last Contest Watch as "King of the Monochrome." The detail is absolutely stunning, and it has a hand-drawn, pencil sketch feel I always appreciate in a world of oversmooth vector lines. It gives the piece a more "workshoppy" feel, as the sketch makes it rougher and dirtier. I especially enjoy the detailing around the head cavity, and the way the articulated hands were constructed. The great thing, though, is how well it works as a shirt... where many sketches feel slapped on, you can tell this one was created with the canvas in mind. The hulking robot fills the shirt perfectly, and a little ominously. I'm unsure which is more appealing to own: the shirt, or the bot.

There was no shortage of success at Threadless this week, as these first three should show. Their new prints were among their best line-ups, and even if I'd only talked up their entries, I'd have had to leave out some solid work. As such, it is somewhat disappointing to have seen radiomode's La Guitare so late in my travels, but while there were plenty of diverse, complex, and intriguing options to stick in its place, I simply love this simple piece for its perfection in simplicity. It's really an ultimate music shirt, a topic there has certainly been no shortage of in the shirt world. It's the small attention to detail... the staff is completely playable, and not only that, but it is specifically guitar music, not just random notes. The added symbols make that abundantly clear. The positioning of the hands also feels so right... I couldn't be sure of the chord, but the fingers contort in a fully believable manner, and the strumming hand is even apparently fingerpicking, as the piece suggests. Even the ends of the staves finish off perfectly, as though thread through tuning pegs. All this and a perfect color scheme. There's no question why radiomode is so printed when you see work like this. It sums up why simplicity can be just as powerful as complexity.

Childmirror's RACE is similarly simple and perfect. Besides insisting you should check it out as a full flash production to get the full effect, I insist you should hop in and vote ASAP, as it's ending soon. It's a great one-color production, but more importantly it's a take on an old idea that is totally fresh in this designer's hands. Sure, the tortoise beat the hare, but on his own turf, he could beat more than 20, easy. The simple linework is perfect, letting the new take on the old concept be the focus. The bunnies have an adorable determination, and while I'd love more different ones, there are enough different poses to keep the illusion intact. It really speaks for itself, so my words are a bit redundant. Let it suffice to know it is smart, simple, and worth the praise... it all just works right.

Over at shirt.woot, we had a surprisingly amazing derby also, and again one that I could feasibly have spent the whole write-up on. The theme, Book Titles Reinterpreted, stood to serve us some horrible puns, and to that end, it disappointed by not disappointing. Still, while once again, the winners look to be a bit behind the curve, we got some amazing inspiration, like Enin's piece, inspired by Still Life With Woodpecker. The title of the book allows for a lush, artistic piece, and Enin does indeed give us an artfully drawn still life. With a woodpecker. It sits well on the shirt and shows clear artistic prowess, but the real win here is for any fan of the book itself. The title allowed the artist to create a still life from items in the book: things like a pyramid, a couple cigarettes (likely Camels), a metric ton of tequila, and of course dynamite. It becomes not only a very wearable shirt, but a very competent and clearly respectful tribute to an American humorist.

Finally, less tribute and more full reworking, blog-favorite EdgarRMcHerly brings us his take on Notes From the Underground. What I love here, to begin with, is how it's not just a quick pun. The title is actually re-interpreted, and there's a whole scenario built up that stands alone even without the title. There's almost a Maurice Sendak feel to the illustration, appropriate given the theme of books. The focal point is clearly the little monster, who one has to imagine is playing some soothing night music as opposed to the haunted strains you might imagine from the creature under the floor. Still, as you follow the flow of the notes up above, it's worth noting the covers of the bed, and how naturally they have bunched up after being flung off to check out that mysterious music. It'd also be clear how well the colors popped off the dark canvas, while also showing the designer's sensitivity to subtlety in the very gently accented window. If it seems I'm overly partial to this designer (as he has certainly appeared more often than may be healthy in these round-ups), it is simply because I feel he's one of the most under-appreciated in the shirt world, and one I want to bring more attention to.

This weekend looks to be a holiday extravaganza for me, but I will do my best to provide you with my promised postings, even with the madness going on. As always, there will be more of this very thing next week, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tee-cember: Ten Clouds a-Killing

Much like yesterday, today's post is in honor of a relative upstart company I've wanted to get around to for a while now. This one is Cameesa, and it is to contests what 7up is to cola. While most contests rely on votes to determine what goes to print, Cameesa believes in "crowdfunding." It is what it sounds like: you put down $20 on a design you like, and when it is "fully funded" (that's $1000 to you and I) you get it shipped to you free. It's a concept that means intriguing things: any design that can gain 50 supporters can be printed, meaning not only can popular submissions score prints just by having 50 devoted fans, but not so great designs can print just by having 50 devoted fans. It's an incredibly unique business model, and one that will be interesting to look at a year from now, when the catalog shapes up.

Of course, it does mean that if you like a shirt up for support, you may have $20 sitting in limbo for quite a while before you finally get that tee you've desired, which certainly has made me iffy on biting on the "support" end. Cameesa long ago tried sweetening the pot by cutting supporters in on the profits... it's no huge margin, but even a couple extra dimes every time someone buys a shirt you support can add up. Just recently, however, they released a new idea: that $20 you put down can support as many designs as you want now. Support one or ten shirts on the same $20, and you'll get the first one that prints, meaning that you don't have to have $100 floating around with no product to show for it. My hope is that this will put more confidence into supporting less likely prints, turning them into more likely prints. My personal recommendation? Monsieur Pimpant's Coq Music, featuring the hippest chicken around. I've been tempted to support it for a while, and knowing I can stretch that support further is making the temptation greater.

But enough about what you can support, and more about what you can buy now. Among the fully supported designs up for sale is The_JCW's "The Day of Bad Rain." It's got a great, creepy feel to it, yet maintains a bit of humor. I'm admittedly a bit of a cephalopod addict... it's one of the few memes I'm susceptible more often than not, largely because octopi and squid are fascinating, especially from a mobility standpoint. It stands to reason that the flow of all those arms would draw the eye in artistically as well, and once again this piece does just that for me. More than that, in this piece, the eyes draw me in... some angry, some inquisitive, all standing out, especially those against the dark shirt background. What I don't really focus on is the guy at the bottom, being rained on and otherwise besieged by the monsterous cloud, nor do I focus on the instruments of doom bearing down on him. These bits certainly help complete the piece, and add to it, but I'm more in love with the motion and the lines. The rest is but a cherry on the sundae.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tee-cember: It Came Upon an Ocean Clear

I've been meaning to chat up Itself for a while, but have only just now gotten around to doing so. It's in praise of their most recent shirt, OpiFan64's Strange Aquatic. The basic Itself blank is intriguing enough as it is... pre-washed fabric alone is intriguing, as it implies that wonder of wonders, a true-size fit, but I'm also intrigued any time a company actually puts their own shirt blanks together. Couple that with a design like this, and you really should have a winner on your hands. I love the linework and the detail, the way it inhabits the shirt. It's very watery-looking, not just due to the elements but the lines as well. The elements play together skillfully and dreamily, which creates a very nice mood to the illustration, and even the fade from bottom to top is gentle, in direct contrast to the common trend of loud, bold, contrasting gradient fades. Between the design and the site itself, this is one of the shirts I've been keeping my radar trained on closely.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Tee-cember: Threadless Holiday Sale pt. 3

The Great Threadless Caper continues this week, and while the extra price cuts of last week are gone, something even better has replaced it: free shipping for orders over $50. Ten to one, if you were going to make a purchase under $100 before, this will save you a couple extra bucks further. While we're at it, the good folks at Threadless Blog would like to inform you that you can save another $3 with the coupon code "holiday08," among other $3 coupons.

It's a great week for it, too, as you could probably fill that order just from the new shirts. We've got the fan-favorite Monster Mash collab, the me-favorite Aphte getting his first print, the perennial favorite Communist Party reprinting for the umpteenth time... the boards have been buzzing for this week, and almost every shirt is a winner. My favorite this round is from Wotto. His "Thou Shalt Not Steal" is 100% Wotto characterization... the thief's face and the ghosts coming from his coat make that abundantly clear. Still, it feels a departure in some ways. This is, for example, one of the best uses of the splatter/inkblotch style that I've seen... I love how it forms the peddler's hair and beard in a huge amorphous blob... it's as if he sneaked out of the shadows to try to sell his hot merchandise: "Pssst... wouldja like t' buy a watch?" Of course you would. Or maybe a bird, some bones, a heart, the sun, or the flippin' Mona Lisa. The humor is as rampant as the style, and that's what Wotto at his best delivers in spades: humor and style.

While you're filling your cart up, I was also drawn to one of the reprints: Odd but Cute by azrielen. It's simple and bizarre, a one-color print whose name sums it up perfectly. It makes intelligent use of color and lines. It's also well over 5 years old... under 300 votes... it's a great indicator of how far Threadless has come. On the other hand, it's a great indicator of how well Threadless has stayed the same... it still fits their current selections and its title sums up chunks of their catalog. It's that combination of quirk with the everyday, that dash of humor, that finds its way into so much of their product. That they can reprint it five years later and still have it look fresh is testament to just how well they've built their brand. And c'mon, you've always wanted an elk-or-devil bunny. Don't even pretend.

Next week appears to be our last gift of the sale, and I for one am excited to see how they top this. Having seen my own cart deplete over the past two weeks, though, I have to urge once again... now may be the best time to bite, especially if you want these tees in your hands in time to gift them.

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.