Thursday, May 21, 2009

Contest Watch: Week of May 14

We here at Singularitee hope you've been enjoying what, at least around here, has been a wholly lovely week. I have as well, which is part of why tonight might seem a bit hasty. Here, then, are your Contest Watch selections for the week. Enjoy!

Shirt: Some Sort of Avalanche. Artist: Samanpwbb. Site: Design by Humans. If there's one thing I wish more people would stop doing, it's mocking their entries on weathered backgrounds, making it look like a fresco or parchment. I say this because inevitably, the shirt itself looks less awesome than the detail view. This particular piece, however, still looks great on white. The design is the sort of abstract, artistic piece that DBH is at its best while printing... the flow is attractive, the colors earthy and classy, and the concept is up in the air. To me, the piece implies that the titular avalanche is a mess of things blindsiding the character here, or else the stumbling figure is succumbing to a confusion, with the icons symbolizing that daze, but the vagueness is such that plenty of people can find their own connection (not to mention simply looking stellar). But yeah, that parchment look at the side makes me wish it was getting an appropriate print as well, as it would look smashing on my wall.

Shirt: Nautical Problem. Designer: Buko. Site: Threadless. Sometimes shirts end voting just before I get a CW segment up. This is one of those times. So while I already know Buko got another very well deserved mega-score, I cannot go without saying more. The designer is one who seems simply unable to do mediocre work (something this world needs more of), but everything is so perfectly marketable, as well. This design is proof positive of that gift. The concept dwells in the world of creativity, imagining a bird so large it would dine on submarines, but the execution is really what sells it. The linework and detail are gorgeous, and the motion, both of the bird and the water as it dives, are executed brilliantly in a blur of turbulence. Even the watercolors stun, both due to the bold colors and the way they accentuate that very motion... using that technique to color the piece really sells the "splash" as the immense protagonist closes in on its submerged prey. Between the score, the comments, and the sheer greatness of the art, I cannot imagine this not finding its way to print.

Shirt: Elephant in the Sitting Room. Artist: Krakaboom. Site: Threadless. This piece is far less about wowing with art than wowing with concept, but it does both. The art is perfect in its simplicity, with the capable, charming line drawings of the various inhabitants of the room, and the big, bold, pink elephant trying to blend in. The concept utilizes UV ink, so indoors, the elephant would be invisible, but undeniable in the sunlight. The concept plays off the idea of the awkward silence... when something huge is hanging over the mood, and everyone knows it's there, but doesn't want to acknowledge the "elephant in the room". Using the UV ink is brilliant for the concept, as is the elephant's "transparent" placement, with all the inhabitants showing up in front of its mass. Both elements make the elephant seem all the more ignored and seemingly invisible. Most importantly for a hidden ink concept, though, the tee is totally wearable in either setting. And I look forward to wearing it in both.

Shirt: Octo System. Artist: theinfinityloop. Site: Shirt.woot. Woot's selections have a lot to do with Threadless's, though not intentionally so. Like Buko's, the first one touches on the wonders of the deep, but while his brings a denizen of the air down under the waves to cause havoc, this one takes an octopus and brings it out into space to do the same. Also tying the two together: use of style. It was expected (though not at all enforced) that designs would need to be created via pointillism, the theme this week, and this was certainly among the purest uses of the theme... one more style the designer can do well, and one more reason her work continues to impress me. The style works well with the astronomic subject matter, giving the piece a wispy, impressionist feel that evokes some of the more interesting outer space phenomena. Not to mention I'm always a fan of a good octo shirt, especially with the both warm-and-cool palette used here.

Shirt: Salt and Pepper. Artist: Radscoolian. Site: Shirt.woot. You'll note the similarities more in this one: huge, leather-skinned mammals are the main focus of both. I thought this was one of the most creative designs I've seen at woot in a LONG time, using the theme as a subject. I'll be honest, I don't know how a rhino relates to salt or pepper, but the elements created a totally unique piece that, while more stippling than pure pointillism, looked great and gave a reason for the style. I was totally rooting for it when it hit the fog. Which brings up the other similarity between the two pachyderms: in both tees, there's an elephant in the room. Woot's is less readily obvious: this piece ended up rejected for its vectored shakers, regardless of the bulk of the work being created via points. Which would be tolerable, if pieces that included smooth, vectored underlayers (and long lines as opposed to dots or daubs) were considered "in the spirit" of the theme. I generally caution new-to-woot designers against submitting unless they're able to deal with uninformed ridicule, fickle moderation, and watching the most inferior work trump their own. I add yet another qualifier after this week: if you care at all about a site that plays fair, the derby is not for you. Woot itself might not be right for you. The customers, many of the designers, and now even the staff don't care about the rules to the contest. If you take pride in your work, or in putting in the effort to meet your client's specifications, I recommend taking a moment to reflect before considering making woot your client.

Sorry to get political, but to me, in the world of art, it is artistry that needs to go rewarded. You'd get outraged if the least qualified brown-nosers were always getting the bonuses at your day job. You'd get disgusted if you worked your tail off for your boss, and saw more popular employees with no work ethic get praised and rewarded. It should be no different in art: anything less devalues the entire concept of artistry. Part of the reason I started blogging was to feature work that is deserving of notice and praise: to show off how great shirt design can be, and to try and attach designs to a market that might not have noticed them before. Because true art isn't what goes out to sell to a market... it's what exists and hopes someday the right market comes. Most of us who have gotten deep into any art know what it's like to find those perfect pieces... regardless of what mainstream appreciation we may have, we all have the author none of our friends know, or the band we stumbled on in the dollar bin, or the artist we saw at a local exhibit and were drawn to... we love our preferred arts for those rarities, not for the easy sales. And if you read this blog, I believe you believe that a shirt can be a shirt, but it can be much more as well. I think there's no time like the present to ask ourselves, as appreciators and designers, where we stand on art. Because as time goes on, the more I feel that it is the money, not pride or respect or accomplishment or sheer joy of creation, that keeps the modern art community going. And I see no better time than now to start the resistance in earnest.

Thank you for your time. SingulariTee will return you to your regularly scheduled programming this weekend.


Migoto said...

I wish the Salt and Pepper one wasn't rejected, I'd have bought it as soon as it started selling.

theinfinityloop said...

Thanks for mentioning Octo! :)

Justin said...

Oh wow thank you so much for the mention! And thanks as well for the t-shirt you sent me - it's super comfortable and I've already worn it several times. Awesome!