Thursday, March 12, 2009

Contest Watch: Week of March 5

Welcome, dear friends, to one of the most diverse Contest Watch segments yet. Please watch your step, and come look.

We start this week at Ink-Hound, somewhere we've talked about but briefly. This is, as I recall, our first time featuring them in Contest Watch, but they've debuted with a killer... Cronikas, by tobefonseca. This is all texture, from the gauzy grid of the (presumably) woman's cloak to the pill-like petals forming the owl's feathers... from the discharge-y fade to the thick spatter. It's all very dramatic in its redscale presentation, yet the characters are mysterious but soothing. It's the sort of thing that unsettles, yet then comforts. Whatever concept is here is only fleeting to me, but the art evokes so much.

Also new to our roster is ShirtFight, though they have more of an excuse... they only just joined the fray! There's a lot of great stuff up already, though much of it really harps on the "food" aspect of the theme, instead of the bad dreams to come after. We'll see what is to come, but for now, ChrisRisse's "Icecream from Spaaaaace!" is one of my favorites. Forget the fact that astronaut ice cream is a guilty pleasure every kid with just enough of a nerdy streak has long fostered. Forget the fact that the freeze-dried goodness juxtaposed as the space cruiser itself makes for a unique concept. Just look at the colors... the pink pops brilliantly off the black... it's incredibly eye catching. It's also an incredibly fun design, with a definite youthful flair without being decidedly childish (once again, that young lust for freeze dried Neapolitan is coming to the forefront). But I feel the mock-up makes the best point... I love the background. I love how organically it seems to sit on the shirt, and how it doesn't seem boxy, and how the stars and other space debris vary. It helps the main image make even more of an impact, by giving it a habitat instead of just being a big swoosh of an icon. All this makes it my early favorite in ShirtFight's inaugural two-week mega contest.

Threadless, of course, is not at all new to this site, and there are a few choice choices from them this week. One of the ones I was most drawn to was "What Happened?" by esskayeecee, because it is simply so different. I love the despondent skull reminiscing over his glory days while crippled with uncool in the here and now. I'm also big on the stark yet subtle palette. It's a bit of an in joke, perhaps, and an ironic one at that, since the shirt is a skull shirt lamenting the current perceived tackiness of skull shirts. This isn't the first time I've seen this angle, but the style here is perfectly charming, and the approach is much different than other pieces I've seen, setting it, er, "head and shoulders" above the others. Plus, is that mint? That alone has my vote.

Continuing the skulduggery is Death's Day Off by Alexmdc. Talking up an Alex piece is sort of like telling God he did an ace job on making trees, but for me, this is beyond even the normal standards. Like the last design, I love the emotion put into the skull. I love what a charming character Death cuts when he's not off deathing. I mean, not that he has much fashion sense, but his get-up of a bowler and Bermuda shorts can't help but evoke a smile. His bike is equally whimsical, complete with bell and basket for his deathpet. But the, er, "killer" here are the more subtle details, whether it be the stink of decay wafting out of his gleeful grin, the flowers dying in his wake, the utterly terrified sun... I especially love the disintegrating butterfly. That's some epic death power right there. And of course, the palette melds the darkness of Hades with the brightness of being free to enjoy yourself, which creates both an interesting and beautiful contrast, both elements remaining at odds with each other, yet integrating very appealingly, and also helps further the concept of the piece. Simply put, I will be shocked if this doesn't print... it's one of the most deserving pieces by one of Threadless's most deserving rising stars.

We finish this week with an old piece from Design By Humans, ironically from last year's rising Threadless star. I found laserbread's Caspian Tiger (1947) through the inimitable Jimiyo, designer extraordinaire and new DBH artistic director. While he has yet to unexpectedly surrender his TeeFury curating stint to me (jokes, jokes), he HAS been searching for just the right design to kick off his new job. This one is on his shortlist, and I'm glad of it, because I clearly bypassed it on my first go-round. Not that one can -really- blame me... at first blush this was likely just one more tiger, an animal becoming worn out in the tee world despite its beauty. This piece, however, is less about the tiger and more about the execution, which is powerful as hell. It is not the tiger that we should be drawn to, but the erasures below it... the rest of the creature which has been effaced and faded out. It's a unique technique, to have what we wished to get rid of be the point of the piece... what is left of the tiger draws our eyes to what is gone, and it leaves us wondering why anyone would try to destroy what could have been. Once again, I'm glad this came back to my attention.

So that's the story for this week. As always, any of these pieces could help you win a free shirt in our Contest Watch Contest. Only four more updates until the contest closes for entries, so be sure to get your guesses in now! And be sure to join us again next week (and maybe even a few days in between) for more of the best in the world of unprinted tees.

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