Thursday, May 14, 2009

Contest Watch: Week of May 7

As has been customary lately, before we begin, I'd like you to give it up for Original Sin, a former featured design by RecycledWax. It's been submitted to Design By Humans, and it really deserves your votes. Also, check the sidebar: I've put up a design from my colleague and sometime collaborator MJ00. Definitely check both of them out!

Also, check out shirt.woot more often. Not necessarily their main page, and definitely not the main page on the weekend (you'll only get upset), but browse their derbies. It's generally best to REALLY browse them, too... that hotness and fog are all hooey. The real gems come a little deeper, when you hit the entries that should, in all conceivable futures, travel the tee design circuit until they find a home that respects them. Omnitarian's "Float On" comes to mind. Balloons are overdone (and technically helium isn't air, this week's theme), but this piece is more than that because of two things: coloration and characterization. The colors are great because they are perfect for each other... they are subdued, like the shirt blank is subdued, but still inject the piece with plenty of color, and the palette, while diverse, compliments itself and the tee. It also helps infuse that character, but the art does enough of that itself. I enjoy the fun and different personae each balloon adopts. Not to mention the layout... the circles create a truly pleasing shape on the tee. It'd be a great summer shirt. Shame it'll be a year before such an event could happen.

Plenty of art finds its inspiration not from themes, but from other art. While the tee above probably came about independently, its title was drawn from a Modest Mouse song. Similarly, dancing ghosts was inspired by the band Beirut while creating "Mount Wroclai (Idle Days)," and I can't thank Beirut enough for it. The piece is stunning. It is the perfect outlet for a huge print, because the detailed landscape makes one want more and more and more to look at. It simply inhabits the canvas brilliantly, especially in the higher placement at the bottom. With the bright, bold sun emblazoned across the chest, as any number of standard designs would be, the detail heavy bottom is something that one could almost even shrug off, if they were of that sort that cannot abide by a larger print. It just looks natural in that position, as if any shirt would be printed that way. For the rest of us, though, the illustration is too beautiful not to drink in visually... it's the sort of tee that I'd buy even if I never wore it. It just needs to be admired and exhibited. I would definitely wear it, though, and proudly... I don't think anyone could sport this and not look good... and with the sheer amount of places the blank peeks through in, this wouldn't just wear attractively, it'd wear far more comfortably than most prints its size. Definitely check the design out larger, and give it a vote and a comment while you're at it... it makes a hell of a case for shirt-as-art, and should really become a shirt to make the case even stronger.

While dancing ghosts shows off the limits of what a shirt can become, Threadless at large is reveling in the Less is More aesthetic (due to the latest "Loves" contest of the same name), and a lot of very convincing cases have been made. Take EricaTheRed's Skyscrapers. Entries into the Less is More contest had to go back to the size and color constraints of Threadless's infancy. This design takes it a step further, using simple shapes with a simple theme. To me, however, the result is nothing short of wonderful. It's incredibly visually appealing, it's uncluttered, it looks classic and classy. It's a perfect example of what can be done without needing the top technique or the boldest approach, and it makes lesser simple pieces look all the more unpolished for it. To me, what really puts this over the edge is relatively simple, as well... the curve of the airplane trajectory (as shown by the engine smoke) lends a totally elegant curve to the otherwise blocky buildings, and allows inlets of fabric to wend like a river through the clouds. Simple but near perfect.

Even more simple, but far less "simple," is Max F's Into the Wild. It's the sort of thing that never seems to do well, no matter how much I send love-vibes to it, but that's no reason to stop. The one-color print goes for a stark contrast I've loved a lot of lately: the classic black-on-white. It allows the viewer to really follow the thick smooth lines as they drip and curve around the tee. I like this a lot more than other doodle-design, because this isn't about clobbering you with meaningless intricacy, but creating something visually different and visually engaging without being too visually busy. The other aspect I like a lot is the pockets of halftoned photographs. I see a couple dogs, but the rest remain a mystery, which inevitably leads to an increased intrigue about the design, a more dreamlike state, and a more unique composition. It's the sort of thing you don't need to "get" to appreciate it's sheer classic wearability.

In closing, another brief note from woot. This time, we examine frequent Contest Watch inhabitant tgentry. There's a big part of me that wants to leave it at that: that's how wearable I think Turbulent Flow is. I shouldn't have to explain how nicely the bold, bright colors of the butterfly and the more subtle intricacies of the antelope interact with the shirt and each other. It should be obvious how the structure creates a totally wearable crest that should appeal to fans of creative and artistic as well as simple and elegant. While it might be helpful to explain how the antelope is a symbol for wind and air in some mythologies, it shouldn't matter. And of its deserving to print this week over anything that finished in the fog, not a word should need speaking. So I think I will indeed let it speak for itself as one of the most widely wearable shirts woot has ever (predictably) passed up. Again, you guys really should check out the derbies. You never know what wonders you'll never get to wear.

I'd like to apologize for my lack of updates over the last week or two, as well. It has not been a lack of desire so much as a lack of consciousness... somewhere along the line I guess a human needs to sleep or something. I have some things lined up for the weekend that I'm insistant on getting up, though. Watch for that!

1 comment:

Omnitarian said...

Hey, thanks a bunch for the compliments on Float On. I hope you'll keep it in mind when I get to start shopping it around elsewhere.