Friday, January 2, 2009


Sometimes that one piece of art comes along that completely changes our perspectives on what we can expect from its purveyor. It's like Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine and Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love. It's Rubber Soul, or hearing a Lindsey Buckingham album and realizing that you don't hate Fleetwood Mac, just Stevie Nicks. Even while some artists go through periods where they totally change their MO (see also Picasso), you know there was some point where Michelangelo went from "that nice painter boy" to "holy crap, did you see the David?" It's how it goes... even if you know Bruce Almighty is still looming on the horizon, it's nice to see something totally unexpected appear on the quality scale where you shouldn't expect it.

This is where Stuck Inside comes in. While created by tgentry, a designer I trust to make quality threads, it is nevertheless the first-place print in a shirt.woot derby. This is an achievement that rarely if ever brings greatness, yet here we are. This is a HUGE artistic stretch for woot and its voters, and that is part of what makes it so important. This is the sort of thing that, made a bit larger, could be found at Design By Humans for twice the price. It's that skillful, blending halftones well to create the wispy fade-ins and moody shadows. It uses a warm rusty red against an icy cool blue for an amazing contrast, and makes skillful use of the negative space on the shirt. That's saying nothing of the mind's eye concept, feeding the intellectual fire. In another catalog, such a design would be a solid addition, but at woot, this is a standard-bearer.

The question becomes, at a site where a design like this feels like a fluke of a win, and where it will be followed by an elevator of anime bunnies, what does setting the bar even mean? The hope is that this will prove that you can indeed succeed with an artfully done shirt. The hope is that more artists will bring their A-game, instead of just being in it for the quick money. The hope is that quality artists outside the derby circuit will see it and take the risk submitting a higher quality daily... and it's indeed true that there is a hope that an artistic shirt like this could bring in new buyers and new voters to help counteract the generic blandness that so often comes to the forefront in these contests. They're all longshots, I know, but that basic hope, that spark of excitement coming from seeing the brand hit its zenith, can't keep me from being just a shred optimistic as the new year dawns on shirt.woot. We'll see how and if it plays out, but for now I'd like to congratulate the artist for creating, to date, the most relevant and flat-out most impressive shirt woot has ever sold.

As always, grab it quick before it sells out if you want it for $10, but starting tomorrow you can pick it up for $15 by following my links. My belief is that a shirt like this should be carrying on for a while, but in case woot decides to be woot and doesn't latch onto actual quality, you should really pick it up before mid-month. There are never guarantees to a shirt's lifespan. But hey, if you miss this one due to an uber-short run, take solace in being able to buy tomorrow's bunnies for months and months. Bunnies are adorable, and art is dumb.

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