Thursday, March 26, 2009

Contest Watch: Week of March 19

Another week come and gone. Another set of awesome designs that are relying on YOU, YES YOU to save them from the depths of unprintyworld. That is, indeed, the official term. Here goes:
We start off at Design By Humans (where you can save 10% until April 2 with code 3JHUYD) with one of my favorite sort of shirts: the one I can't explain my attraction to. To be sure, mikelis' Under the Water 01 is very simple: a pile of smoothly rendered fish and some geometry. It's an odd thing to want on a shirt, but it just... kinda works? It's got good size, filling the chest without being ludicrously big... a design like this could be too much too big, because the "why" factor would be unavoidable. As it is, though, it just sits nicely, and I rather like the transparencies and shapes surrounding the pleasingly streamlined fish. It doesn't have to make sense. Which is good, because it doesn't.

Making infinitely more sense, somehow, is theinfinityloop's current ShirtFight entry, The Walrus and the High Wheeler. It's probably my favorite thing I've seen in ShirtFight's young life, but also one of my recent favorites in the cartoony humor file. It's something I'm liking about ShirtFight's competitions... they're, in some ways, taking everything woot should be with their weekly contest, but succeeding by shaping their brand, instead of letting their brand be shaped externally. Thusfar it's been refreshing to see people pushing themselves to create something on a deadline, and actually caring about doing something special. For that, I'll happily take what I call "emptees zombie syndrome," which seems to inhabit a good number of entries. But about the entry. The palette is smart and subtle, and the subject makes me smile forever and ever. 4realz. The walrus morphs into an old-timey gentleman easily, and the highwheeler is one of my favorite devices, for its complete obsolete nature and total ridiculousness. It's a great humor piece in that it is its own joke... it's not a belly laugh, but it's still funny and also wearable... it took me a little bit to get used to the landscape shape, but I've quite come around to it. And I don't know if you've noticed, but that crab? Totally has a monocle. It's like the designer walked around in my mind. Creepy. But awesome. Vote this one quick-like: SF's contests end tonight, Midnight Central.
Taking a totally different humor approach is OlliRudi's Anarchy! I see huge classic cartoon overtones (especially characters like Alice the Goon) in the art, giving it a classic nostalgia even for people who didn't grow up in the so called "golden age" of cartoons... everyone's seen this sort of thing at some point. I think that the style works brilliantly... it tones down the blatant violence with the familiar cartooning, but is also just foreign enough to our times to add a shade of darkness to the proceedings. The colors are perfect, also. But the crux of the design is that sign, both its existence in the first place as well as the contradictory action taking place... and the reactions to it are priceless. The deviously pleased attacker is nicely done, but I love the simply shocked victim. You can tell he'd never expect to be stabbed in a "No Stabbing" zone. Makes one wonder if there are some zones where stabbing is perfectly kosher. Black absurdist humor... probably one of my favorite sorts.

While "Anarchy" is classic Threadless fare, Admiralabelster's Origins of Color is more of a new-school of Threadless design. It makes use of strong art and Threadless' more advanced techniques. This one revels in the glory of UV inks, which means the inks only appear in sunlight. I'm serious when I say you should check the sub out to really appreciate the details and change. I think a lot of subs overuse the specialty inks... adding processes just to get a gimmick vote. This one is simply lovely both ways, so any gimmick is well justified... I love the details and the two styles in one: the elements all seem to fit together in their own style, but the illustration itself feels pencil drawn and shaded, adding another level. When the UV comes in, it gives a similar one-two punch, with the spill of vectors going where they please, while watercolory wisps settle into more specific accent roles. If I could change one thing, I do sort of wish the dragon had some color to it. Don't get me wrong, I get the concept... the dragon is delivering color to the world (those dragons do way cooler things in the Eastern world than the Western... this side of the world just gets burned and eaten). Still, I can picture it with a skillful palette and can't help but wonder. Nothing that would keep me from a potential purchase of course... just curiousity.

Finally back to DBH, where Hogboy has brought his amazing and clinically underprinted piece "Taipei Rocks" around for a print shot. This review comes with a disclaimer, though... right now, DBH has no orange blank. As far as I'm concerned, this shirt should NOT be printed unless it can inhabit an orange blank, or some other blank that gives off the same amazing contrast. If I were DBH, I'd even custom dye some white tees for the sake of this design. It's that good. But NO DOING THE WHITE COLOR SCHEMATIC! Ok. That's out of the way. Why so adamant? I am in love with the contrasts here... the orange back-and-foreground elements play unexpectedly tastefully with the blues in the rest of the world. There's great detail here, but it's colored detail... it's not even a shred as impactful as just linework. The characters stand out more in color, and they are great characters which SHOULD be seen, especially the massive focal robot-thingie (which absolutely requires a rockin' red guitar, not a line-art one). But the sense of wonder is what won me over to start with. The designer says the piece is inspired by a trip he took to Taipei. If that's so, then Taipei has skyrocketed up my list of places I need to go. It has to indeed rock to inspire this. I don't expect huge guitarbots. But I wouldn't be disappointed by them.

That's it for this week's installment. While we're waiting for DBH to work on those orange blanks (seriously guys, don't make hogboy have to resort to shirt.woot or something just to print this correctly) be sure to stay tuned here. There will hopefully be loads more awesome to come. We'd never let you down, right?


theinfinityloop said...

Thanks for blogging my walrus. I'm having a rather sucky day, and this cheered me up a little. For that I thank you. :)

olli said...

Thanks for blogging my anarchist manfesto, as well!