Thursday, January 15, 2009

Contest Watch; Week of January 8

Very weird week for me in the t-shirt world. Here's a look back at some of what I've seen:

We start off this week at LoiterInk, a site I've reviewed before with a contest I've yet to look at. I ended up browsing their submissions this week after submitting a design of my own in their current "Loitery" contest. Loiter has a handful of top notch regulars (Tom Burns is their creative director, even) putting together their own brand of mostly humorous shirts, but the one that struck me most while browsing doesn't quite fit that mold: Treequaria, by luckybeaver. It's colors and linework here: not that there's all that much color, but the contrast works, er, swimmingly? It gives the piece a liquid feel. The lines, also, make the hidden sea-life feel natural as well inside the branches. It's a serene, natural piece that is easily set apart from generic tree shirts. Definitely worth viewing bigger.

At Threadless, they're winding down their "Joy of Text" competition, which closed for submissions last Friday. However, while their last Horror competition got incredibly stale by the time this point rolled around, this one is still surprising me with its freshness, especially considering how much I normally loathe text shirts. One that really sets itself apart this week is CallMeSteven's War! Besides the general medieval styling, there's a lot of interesting stuff going on. What I'm especially liking is the card motif... the multiple dueling bodies attached at the waist, like the portraits on a deck of cards... a touch that takes that stroke of creativity. I especially enjoy the horse, done in the same way, and floating above the castle for some reason. While I'm a bit iffy on the UV ink, it is mainly an issue of "why?" for me... the graphic looks perfectly lovely with or without the UV highlights, so while having two different shirts in one sounds nice, the ink seems to change, not add. Overall, in or out of the sun, you'll be having a great shirt... i'd just rather the subtle reds and golds to be there the whole time... I'm simply not in the sun THAT often in a normal day.

From the Joy of Text to text that brings me joy, we have an oddball entry that I quite loved this week: Der Bär, by evalottchen. "Bär," it is explained, means "Bear" in German. Not that we couldn't have guessed... this adorable, stumpy guy is 100% bear, even with his face replaced with his German name. It feels very dadaist to me, while also being very cutesy, and I appreciate how it challenges the viewer subtly... the picture is complete enough that you don't fully notice the face is a word at first, but that piece is arbitrary enough that it stops you in your tracks when you finally DO get it.

Much less challenging to the normal person, but more to me, is our final Threadless piece this week: 0901, by tjbox. I normally want to hate Koi and the general overflow of Japanese art culture into western culture, but this takes all the best parts of that feeling, instead of slapping a kawaii face on something and calling it art. I love the bold colours on the black background, especially the golden koi, which comes across more warrior like a dragon than ornamental like its average brethren. I really have no clue why the koi, or the flowers, or any of this is coming out of a set of headphones (perhaps this was inspired by Shonen Knife?) but the little round-headed guys, rocking their own tunes and climbing all over the scene, add worlds of charm... I love their faceless, almost alien proportions, and their clearly endless gusto in trying to subdue their massive carp adversary. It's an image that raises more questions than it answers, but sometimes a solid and bold piece of artwork answers a thousand "why"s better than actual words can. Allowing your eyes and mind to wander themselves is enough.

Finally, to shirt.woot, which was graceful this week in redesigning itself in a way which makes my blog look professionally designed. There will be more on their derby later this week, I am sure, but for now there is Battle of the Iron Clads 2, by rglee129. The designer is known 'round woot for his appreciation for robots, but here he really outdoes himself, re-imagining old warships teaming up to keep yet another "Iron Clad" at bay... a massive underwater robot. What I love here is that the illustration preserves the shine of the robot while also giving a vintage texture, so it looks perfectly at home illustrated in an old history tome, or photographed in sepia. Incredibly well done art that helps set the history of the piece brilliantly... something I hope to see get a chance elsewhere some day.

More to come this weekend for sure... it's destined to be an odd one, much as the week has been... so stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

Hey Adder,

I appreciate the feature this week, and also previously on Nuclear Winter (CallmeSteven and Ste7en are one and the same).



p.s. to answer your question on "why" it comes down to the spirit of the text. It just adds to that hidden message feeling. I see your point about wanting it to be colorful all the time though.

jimiyo said...

i like that tree with whale.

yo... you should make your links open in a new window so people stay at your bloggins. or not.

anyways good stuff.

Adder said...


I know you're one and the same... I tend to simply note people via the name given at the site I'm mentioning... Still, good to see great stuff from you... I also rather loved your Hive Voltage at TeeFury, though wasn't able to snag one, so if that ever finds itself elsewhere, I'd be happy to do a writeup.

I'll need to look into linkage... I don't think I even noticed it didn't open new windows, since admittedly, I usually only re-read my blog searching for specific info. Thanks for the heads up!