Thursday, February 26, 2009

Contest Watch: Week of February 19

Before we go too deep into this week's contest watch, I'd like to remind you all about our Contest Watch Contest, in which you can win a free shirt. All you need to do is guess which shirt will be printed as our 25th update. Click the link for all the exciting details, and read on for more exciting shirts-to-be.

We begin this week with Sonmi's BurgBot, an almost-ran for this segment when it was up for voting at Threadless, now trying its luck at Design By Humans. It's an easy sell for me because it combines burgers and robots, two great things that presumably would go great together. The layers of the burger part are well incorporated into the robot's design, and the ketchup/mustard lasers are a charming and amusing touch. Still, what sells this even more than the awesome concept is the awesome style... it's totally vintage, as if some old-time McDonalds rival created the guy as a mascot, and that vintage, familiar feel makes it doubly wearable. And for me, the size doesn't hurt either.

Gumbolimbo starts off the Threadless train this week with the epically lengthily titled "It's just my imagination (running away with me)." The piece is all about style... it has a vintage feel to it as well, to me. It feels like something that could fit on an old urn or some sort of pottery, especially with its upward flowing motion. That flow is part of what makes the concept here work... the creature running away with the character just keeps building off itself. It's very representative of how the imagination does the same thing, taking one concept and running with it until something simple becomes something complex and unique. Of course, the style itself doesn't hurt this, being imaginative in and of itself, and even the knight, hanging on for dear life, fits the concept... how many fantasies are more common when we're young than the days of knighthood? And while things like the skilled use of a single color help sell the piece even more and speak to the designer's chops, the aspects that do the piece the most justice are those bits of imagination.

More whimsical is "Hello Human" by TangYauHoong. It's a simple piece, no frills, just a cute concept. It could be a message of wanting to fit in, or of an intergalactic friendship, or just a quick "hello" sort of concept, a charming little greeting. What I love here, though, is the flow of the hand (hands are damn hard, lemme tell ya), but also the great transparency feel. The piece speaks for itself otherwise, so I don't feel I need to prattle on, but still a solid piece.

Hermes by BadBasilisk was one of the early favorites for me this week, and it kept that position all the way through. For starters, it is one of the most tasteful uses of gold foil that I've ever seen, adding a definite sheen to the piece, but as paired with the colors and shirt, it wouldn't overpower and make gaudy. As the colors go, the earthy palette was the right choice, for sure, on this piece... the monochrome option still looks good, but pales in comparison. The detail, also, is magnificent, from the texture breaking up that foil to the scarf and the subtle background clouds. You can see the care the designer put in to every bit. It's also a unique take on the titular concept... Hermes the messenger, swift on his winged heels, seems to have updated for modern times, with an ornate winged shoe to pilot. Or perhaps another, less fleet-of-foot god had to fill in for a bit. Hell, maybe a mortal stole the young god's footwear (it only makes sense a winged foot would require a winged shoe). Whatever one imagines, it adds even more fantasy to an already mythological concept, and being able to interpret something further than the literal always lends a little something extra to a piece. Definitely a worthy print... one can only hope it makes it through.

Finally, we finish back at DBH for something purely artsy. Cornerstone was another former Threadless attempt, this time by beecombs. It's interesting to me, because it's executed pretty simply: strips of textures (the designer cites very old books as the main source of the swatches) stacked upon each other. What is interesting to me about this is that it is deceptive in its simplicity. The stack is by no means a perfect one, with the strips out of line and skewed in just the right way to turn this from a boxy eyesore to an interesting visual experience. The strips themselves may be scans, but it hammers home the difference between lifting imagery and being inspired by them. Every strip seems to have been perfectly selected, eyecatching while being undefineable, different from all the others yet perfect in the flow of colors. It all simply works as its own piece, as if it was supposed to be this way all along. And that is how you use stock art, people... you alter it until it is clearly your own.

More next week, of course. Don't forget about the contest, and don't forget to get on the vote train if there's anything you like.

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