Thursday, January 22, 2009

Contest Watch: Week of January 15

This week is Threadless week. I hope y'all don't mind a more narrow view, as many weeks lately have been Threadless-dominated anyway.

We start with blog-favorite EdgarRMcHerly, with the sublimely creative Choose Your Own Adventure. It's really almost a guaranteed print, because it has everything it needs: it combines the artist's charming style and twisted humor in a way that makes it very Threadless in those elements, as well as hitting the right nostalgia chords and having a gimmick that works. Trust me, the payoff on the back of the shirt is worth clicking through to the primary vote page. I don't love reviewing shirts that have already scored so well, but for this artist, let's call it a bit of early congratulations.

There was a LOT of astrology going on this week at Threadless, and we'll start off with a cliché archetype done brilliantly: ilovedoodle's "The Juggler". Let's be honest, the wolf shirt has been taken over as the new-agey equivalent of a cat sweater, but it feels like it couldn't be fresher in this piece. It, of course, doesn't hurt that the wolf is drawn gorgeously, but it is the interplay of the moon phases that hits this home. For starters, the wolf is subtle, almost fading into the shirt at a distance (or in less-than-stellar lighting conditions), which lets the moon, with it's bold contrast against the shirt, take center stage. It gives the wolf an almost otherworldly quality. The way the piece is conceptualized really works, too. Steeped in mythology (the lore of werewolves) as well as fact (wolves do indeed howl at the moon, though unintentionally) , the idea of giving the wolf control of the moon itself seems natural. He controls its phases through his juggling. More subtle and more beautiful is the implication that that is not the only way he and the moon connect... the hole in his chest where "new moon" would lie really ties in that the moon is indeed a part of him, just as it relies on him for its phases. It's my favorite detail, and I think it alone is enough to really make this a powerful piece of art.

Againstbound's "Kleptonaut" orbits more around humour than art. The graphics are quite nice, don't get me wrong, but the concept and humor is the sales pitch on this one. Any piece that relies on a collection of like items is only as strong as the cohesion of those items, and the designer has given us quite the grouping here. I especially enjoy the jar of what appears to be infinity, which gives the otherwise flat row of jars some visual interest (as well as creating slight symmetry with the held jar), but there's also treasure to be found in video game references like the space invader held captive, as well as the purely absurd, like the goldfish and that sock you somehow lost in the dryer. I also quite like the colors on all of the suggested shirt blanks: the black of the captured cosmos in each jar pops great off each one, and while I think it's most awesome on red, any given option would be a definite purchase from me.

Tying the two worlds of art and humor together is our final space-case: Solar System Family. Badbasilisk does what he promises in the title, painting a, ahem, "universal" family portrait. It's not exactly accurate (a moon could never father a planet) but it is super attractive and wearable. The fade of the background blends it into the shirt smashingly in both suggested color schemes, though I prefer the whole thing in blue. The style here is spot-on, and takes me back to the early 1900s (not that I was really there). It's no surprise to have a man as the moon (and what a swanky mustache he does have) but the sun woman looks amazing, the way the stylized rays become her hair without any sort of stretch of imagination. While Earth-boy isn't much to look at compared to his superbly rendered parents, I cannot help but smile seeing him sitting there in his sailor suit. The whole piece seems classic, the sort of scene you know you've seen a hundred times before in real life, and bringing that to fruition with a more unique family is part of what makes this so great.

Finally, we end with something quite definitively terrestrial, Self Serve/Surf, by Jimmytan. It's really all about mixed media, here. The elephant is a photorealistic study of half-tones, speaking a transparent bubble of joy. Can't blame him, he looks like he's having a blast. The waves he is both riding and creating are done with skillful linework, clean and precise and likely done by hand with vector software, to make sure each strand of waves and each frothy crest built up precisely as the designer wanted. In contrast, the fill looks watercoloured, with all the imperfect drips and bleeds and textures that the style implies. The success here is how great these different paths meet up in the finished product. The totally charming idea only seals the deal.

I'm hoping against hope that I'll have some more diversity for you next week. Until then, here at Camp Adder, we're getting a bit anxious to see if Threadless feels generous enough to continue what has been a perfect score since Christmas of at least one new print being a contest-watch special. Stay tuned to find out what happens on both fronts

1 comment:

Jaden Kale said...

Woo Hoo! I see a CW print today!!!! :D