Thursday, January 8, 2009

Contest Watch: Week of January 1

First contest watch of the new year. Expect confetti! And shirts!!! Since starting the segment (and conversely the blog), I've talked up what comes just shy of 100 shirts, with 9 of those shirts already printing. Not bad luck so far, but I'm hoping to see still more good things come from the next year, starting with the latest crop of 5.

Red is a bold color, and that is probably why I love it when I see it used well, like in shirt.woot's pegasustastic The Beginning of the End, by derby veteran tgentry. Gentry gives Thomas Kinkade a deserved kick in the ass, out-painting his light in this one, which is what makes the image so striking to me... all the detail comes from that warm glow, illuminating just enough detail and keeping just enough silhouette. It's a powerful image, too, mixing the mythological with an almost spiritual feel.

There was a lot of great, powerful stuff at Threadless this week as well, so I wanted to start there with something a bit more lighthearted, combining two elements I've been surprised to find myself appreciating as much as I do: nautical imagery and beards. Not to say Fleck's Sea Beard isn't still powerful despite it's hairy theme... it's simply that facial hair seems to be the humor of choice for many tee-shoppers these days. The combo of elements, however, makes it look more like an angry sea god tossing a ship about in the waves. The crashing spume around the boat blending into his long beard simply cements the image to me. The lines of the waves and hair really work gorgeously, but the thing that really kills on this piece is the placement... specifically the belt option. The size is great, and it fills the shirt epically, as a design like this should... the single color belt print makes it look insanely classy and keeps it from seeming overly busy also. For people who don't get how a shirt can be art, this shows how to work the canvas... for people who already get it, this is likely to be a no-thought-required purchase if and when it prints.

More hairy power comes in the form of buko's Big Horn Invocation, which is simply stellar. The illustration itself is pretty incredible, with the textures of horn and goat fur, but I really like the more spiritual feel to it, with the rushing wind and summoning horns, and the doves flying around like live offerings to the spirit of the ram. It's a shame such spiritual concerns get such a bad wrap, because done right, imagery like that can be incredibly powerful. Of course, even if you're not about to praise a ram-god, there is always something to praise here... personally, I like the horn cut-aways a lot, both visually and conceptually... they add to the other-worldliness of the image, but also carry the concept of that horn blast... after all, where do you think the "horn" came from?

Design by Humans made a welcome return to the awesome spotlight this week, as well, with a couple worthy pieces. While it meant a little skimping on the Threadless stuff, I feel it's worth it. Starting of, we have Beastly Knot by hands_on_fire. The shape is one of the first noteworthy bits here, forming an almost hourglass from neck to waist and making the piece one that you can't help but draw your eyes to. Also eye-catching are the textures, running the gamut from scaly to smooth... beastly indeed, but also birdly and, apparently, squidly. The real payoff to me is the colors, though... they mesh well as the strands intertwine, but what really pops is that cool blue of the almost liquid strand... it helps its texture seem so slick, but also provides an excellent contrast that really draws everything else out, especially against the black.

Closing out this week is Sonmi, who actually just scored her 5th DBH print yesterday. Which is cool and all, but so is Tell Me, which is an explosion of artistry. Once again, colors are key here, with the lavenders hitting just the right balance (or possibly lack thereof) against the sand shirt. Perhaps it is a bias due to loving the small muntjak which seems to be the focal point (I clearly am too partial to cute pastel animals), but I think the unconventional color scheme works perfectly. The whole piece, however, feels like a secret world... the sort of anything's-possible mental running that comes in that second before a secret is let out. It's definitely abstract, and there may be no deeper meaning than to give us some rockin' art, but to me there's definitely a conveyance of that text within the art itself. Even if it's just an intimate, decoded glimpse into the artists mind, there are secrets here.

As a final note, those of you interested should definitely check out Uneetee on Monday for the wrap-up to their (admittedly a bit late) kickoff to the New Year. They'll be announcing their winner for their $3000 payoff contest then. I'm personally more stoked for later in the year, when we'll be seeing some of the entries that DIDN'T win print, since the finalists didn't strike a chord with me, but it'll still be worth it to check out the big reveal, especially if you missed them announcing the final 5. We'll probably see you Monday anyway for Threadless, but if nothing else, you can catch us back here in a week.

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