In the world of t-shirts, the contest is king. Without it, there would be a shortage of the quality art we love on shirts. So I want to take a moment to speak with you all on behalf of ShirtFight. They're a new shirt competition run by a husband and wife team, and they're going live on March 5th. As of right now, they're a single homepage with info, but once they go live they will have a weekly shirt competition that will boast a $500 payout and some as-yet undefined surprises. Why I'm interested is simple: I love a good shirt contest, and I love good shirts. Why should you be? If you're a designer, here's an excellent reason to be intrigued: their first contest will come with a $2009 payout. That's actually a shred more than even Threadless offers in cold hard cash. It's highly recommended that y'all keep an eye on these guys. Designers especially should sign up for their mailing list... they're promising the theme will be announced there well before launch, giving you plenty of time to put together something awesome to snag that prize. More info, of course, will come over time, but right now, keep these guys on your radar... all evidence points to a very different kind of weekly contest.
Also new to the game is Teextile, which recently went live to the public, but is biding its time on posting its first shirt for sale. Think of them as a pricier TeeFury... their game plan is much the same (one shirt, 24 hours only, 5 days a week), their rights-retention is the same (you keep yours no matter what), but there are a few major differences. The blanks are American Apparel, not Alstyle (hence the extra cost), designs are voted on, not curated, and the perks are very intriguing. For an artist, it's a very generous commission per shirt sold, but to keep voting strong, they're also offering free shipping for any shirt a user votes on. They've already got a lot of strong work in the running (including a contest watch favorite from RecycledWax), but among my favorites is Tolagunestro's "Extraterrestrial." It's got a wonderful alien/robotic propaganda feel to it... the vintage look of the piece coupled with the otherworldly "text" conveys that wonderfully. This is a style the artist owns, hands down, and the shape and presumed placement make this something that will simply own on a shirt for sheer wearability.
Also totally wearable: patterns. And while the patterns that were most evident during this week's shirt.woot derby were the redundant voting patterns, the theme was all about breaking them, which is why ansharp's "The Paisley Stands Alone" does indeed stand alone as the easy best of the week. It's simplicity itself... not to imply there's anything simple about arranging a precise pattern like houndstooth, but conceptually it seems so obvious, and sometimes hitting that perfect idea is all it takes. Of course, it's also about execution, and not only is the houndstooth pattern very cohesive on its classic black and white, but the stand-alone misfit tooth is in an excellent location to be well noticed without feeling uninspired. The color choice, also, is something I'm all for... the sea-foam is far from the black of the others, and paisley is gaudy as all get-out, serving as a wonderful counterpoint to the starkness of the rest of the piece, while being small and subtle enough that the shirt itself is still classy. A surefire shoulda-won.
Design By Humans is hosting a great "shoulda won" also in WarholBot's "pir-uh-mid," a piece I'm sure I've seen with a number of other titles before. It's one of the designer's most iconic and familiar pieces, yet one that has simply not hit home. Why, I have no clue. It's CMYK without being tired and uninspired, and helps slam home the reason why people love the color scheme so much... the colors are a palette, not a designing in-joke. This mixes with the designer's offbeat style, tempered in this piece by other elements... the distressed beams and the mirror image sketches anchor the piece, and make it more accessable than other pieces by the artist. Don't get me wrong, that charm still shines through from the grinning pyramid-headed alien dude (the top-hat is killer)... it's just something I am shocked has not resonated, and I'd hate to see it happen again without my throwing my hat into the ring in its support.
Threadless this week is a vision in black and white, something Paul Simon might not be enthused about, but the pieces in question enthrall me. First is mr.pimpant's "BASTIEN LOVES GEOGADDI AS I DO," a cavalcade of CapsLock, but a wonderful sketch. I love how the elements straddle the line between completion and just starting to form... it gives the piece a very dreamy feel. I also love the wrap-around, which is tight enough for the entire scene to play out, but helps take the sketch from the presumed page to the shirt canvas effectively. It's a piece that simply doesn't have much else even remotely like it, and if for no other reason, I'd love to see it print for that, but it also captures that hard to pin down indie aesthetic. It's the shirt equivalent of art for its own sake, and it comes out beautifully and subtly.
Finally, finishing off this blog but continuing the black-and-white trend, we have BaronVonMonkey's "A Visitor From the North." The north, I believe, is Scotland or Wales, where apparently everyone is a totally awesome robot. This has made me dramatically re-evaluate future travel plans, because I want in on that. But besides this revelation, the shirt is built off a very skilled landscape sketch, which fills the shirt canvas as naturally as it likely filled the page. Oh, yeah, and ignore the pointing hand... that's part of the flash presentation from Threadless. The only absurdity here is the affable robot, which doesn't even seem like it shouldn't be there. It's waving happily to announce his presence, and it gives the feeling that this is a perfectly normal occurance in the otherwise sleepy riverside village. I can't help but love it, both as illustration and shirt.
And that, as they say, is that. Definitely keep tabs on the new blood, guys... I'm sure it'll be worth it... and watch out for an awesome Contest Watch related announcement this weekend.