Thursday, February 5, 2009

Contest Watch Plus: Week of January 29

Hello again, and welcome to Contest Watch. Emergency exits are at the top right corner and at the bottom. If you're experiencing discomfort, please try a size larger. Button up, buckle in, and enjoy your flight.

We start off this week at Chimpogo, where littleclyde presents "High Tea, High Seas." One of the things I love about the smaller sites is that designs like this can stand out where they might not in a more competitive environment. I am unsure what keeps drawing me to pieces like this... there's clearly some unresolved love of the sea that I'll someday need to come to terms with, and since the waves will be made out of water, not some dude's beard or steam from a teacup, I fear I'll be eternally disappointed. Anyway, once again, the cascading lines of the sea/steam have lured me in, especially with the stark solid contrast of the ships, and the way the whole piece fills the shirt (as well as that rare excitement at the thought of a Kelly shirt I'd actually wear) wins me over as well.

Over at Threadless this week, we see that the sea is far less innocent than a cup of tea (not to mention less relaxing) to Roadkill3d. In a move that may-or-may-not make it past the Threadless print-censors, he offers up a racy design with an equally provocative title: The Kraken Feeds on Virgins. It's definitely a bit more adult than most Threadless fare, but then, if they've printed Dick Firestorm...

To review, however, there is so much elevating this from simply sexy to fully artistic. The colors, for example... the blue used for the virgins and the red of the kraken's arms contrast beautifully with the otherwise dark palette. The flow of all those arms and hair makes everything tie together. The octopus itself is virtually flawless, and the women aren't half bad either. The scene is so otherworldly and gothic that you can't help but take it in for the artistry it is. I understand how it's probably not everyone's cup of tea, and it certainly isn't a shirt you're going to throw on for Casual Friday or Sunday Dinner, but a print at Threadless would be one more indication of their position as on top of the shirt game, and a pass from them would hopefully lead to the designer checking DBH's prude meter as well. A design this courageous and stunning at the same time deserves the recognition somewhere.

Way less potentially controversial is Gentlemen by Jameses.x. It's got more of those wonderful lines, but more importantly it's got a totally charming overall style. These guys are two of the most stylish monsters ever, and they make quite a pair. The impeccably manicured but impossibly hairy baron is masterfully textured, but the other is why I love this so much... he's like an alien W.C. Fields with his multiple eyes and drink (and no discernable mouth, but I digress), and his cluster of eyes is simply wonderful to look at. It's my kind of adorable.

While I've often said that my sea-scape fascination puzzles me, it's nothing compared to my bemusement at two successive weeks of cat-related content. This week is a bit less straightforward and a good deal odder: Eight Legged Cats Have Cool Names, by Fat Pigeon. I'm not sure what sort of cool name they'd be given... the obvious joke here would be Octopussy, but can I put in a vote for Purrybdis? Hopefully that's the angle Mr. Pigeon intended, because Mr. Eight-Arms McFuzzypants is decidedly an uncool name. But while titles can convey so much, you just don't get to flaunt them on a shirt. You certainly can flaunt the lines, though, and this is all about them... the catbeast is made up of little else, to the point where any outline feels unintentional (especially given the total lack thereof in its head and body). More important are the thicker lines, like its legs, flowing out as if in water and inhabiting the shirt's torso. Likely even more vital is the line of the yarn ball, which is well done tangled, but really interweaves with the cat in a way that draws in the eyes, as well as one that any cat owner can recognize. It also, along with the eyes and (to a lesser extent) nose, creates a striking visual draw against an otherwise subtle palette.

Finally for our regularly scheduled programming, we're on to Design By Humans. Besides that big sale that's still going on, they've got a special contest running that teams up with Fleetwood Mac. Given that I'm no fan of their most iconic member, this is a pretty weak team-up to me, especially since I'm unsure whether DBH and Fleetwood Mac even have much of a concurrant fan base. I'm hoping to be able to find a pick worth talking up anyway, but for now I'm glad to have found Year of the Ox by archanN. It does what DBH does best... HUGE colorful prints? Check... the background looks all but hand painted and fills out the shirt beautifully. Wraparound printing? Certainly looks like it, and the "ribbons" around the shoulders unfurl in a way that makes that overlap work great. Art over concept? Most definitely. While the ox of the title is definitely distinct, and done with a festive, ethnic flair, this shirt is all about how the shirt looks. There's nothing to get, nothing to ponder... it's wearable art. I see arguments all the time about "not wanting to wear an art gallery." This is the sort of shirt that simply has no better canvas.

So there we have it for the regular watch, but why the plus? CW regulars may recall this feature the last time shirt.woot held a do-over derby. This time around is no different. Contest Watch has quite a few runners in this race... six to be exact (the other two shown below)... and a good number of other pieces that I'd love to see print as well. Below are my horses for the inevitable Editor's Choice week to follow this weekend's results... the ones I think have the best chance of showing up for sale: Artulo's "Thrifty Fill-Up," BootsBoots' "And His Head Swelled With Pride," Zenne's "Greedy Pirate," and tgentry's "The Beginning of the End." Honestly, though, there's a lot of stuff they could print that I'd be quite happy seeing and inevitably buying. Check back here for results before the new Contest Watch on Thursday, and through the week for potential updates.


jimiyo said...

nice. that high teas one is grand. logged in for that shiiii.

Jaden Kale said...

Kraken Feeds on Virgins and Eight Legged Cats Have Cool Names both got a well deserved $5 from me. For different reasons, obviously, but I was absolutely taken with Kraken from the second I saw it.

I wonder sometimes if I have an unhealthy cephalopod fixation. ;)

artulo said...

Great writeup as usual! Thanks for the nod but I'm pretty sure woot will never, ever print something of mine :P

Jaden Kale said...

you were saying, Art? ;)

Tetiana said...

Jaden, there is no such thing as an "unhealthy cephalopod fixation." Tentacles need love, too, you know.

I am so stalking that Kraken tee. Not to wear, but to frame.