Thursday, June 18, 2009

Contest Watch: Week of June 11

I'm really sorry to leave you hanging last week. There were a lot of SUPREMELY great Threadless subs, which I will happily tell you all about when they hopefully print. We do, however, have somewhat exciting news: contest watch tee "A Visitor From the North" by VonMonkey is up for support at Cameesa. $10 + shipping gets you a piece of the action, as well as residuals from every sale once it prints.

In what seems like deja vu, we start off with a Uneetee design by Againstbound. This week, it's Samurai Epilogue, a design I've seen make the rounds for a while now, and simply needs a good home. The more I see it, the more I want to own it. It's simple, but the flow is perfection, snaking up diagonally to the shoulder. It's also a brilliant representation of peace, with the instruments of war laying dormant long enough to become overgrown with life. It's stark beauty... help it gain a life at uneetee, and check out the end of their summer sale while you're there.

shirt.woot's theme this week was "the sun," and if that sounds like a boring theme, you'd be right. Most of the shirts did nothing but illustrate the theme exactly, which is why I appreciated Mitohapa's "Sunflowers: Vase-sized photon sources." A bit verbose with the title, but mercifully creative with the concept, the piece imagines literal sun-flowers, sprouting and exuding a sunny charm. Characterizing the flowers helps give them even more sunniness. The colors remain earthy and warm throughout, and the design makes great use of the blank, melding organically with the tee, and making the whole thing quite wearable. It's a piece that would make a great summer shirt. Hopefully we'll get a chance to see it around again next summer. I can't imagine the wearer ever being in a bad mood, and that's sorta what summer's all about to me: sitting back and simply enjoying yourself. And sometimes getting sunburned. But mostly enjoyment.

It's bird and music week at Threadless, I do believe, and to celebrate, we start with Song Bird, by quister. Like Sunflowers, the piece creates a great organic border with the blank itself, which helps it almost have a 3D feel... the outside layer of leaves pops off the background trees, with the focal image between them, as though it was all a diorama. That focal bird is one of the best re-imaginings of a music note I've seen... the plump little body is the perfect shape for both the note and the torso of a bird, with the stem making the neck and beak. While the stem itself makes the note visible, the body is bird-perfection, decked out in colors that shine and camouflage in equal measure, like an elusive bird of the jungle would be. One has to imagine this bird's song is a hell of a tune, as well. Great execution.

On the avian side, we're also given Magnitudinous Vocabulary, by Fleck. Taking inspiration from the loquacious macaw, which can produce a verifiable facsimile of human speech, it lauds the merit of grandiloquent verbosity. I'll drink to that! Besides its praise of literacy, which is something I can always get behind, I enjoy the use of the parrot to deliver the message. Its monocle and pipe don't hurt things, but the idea of an extremely well-educated parrot, instead of one who merely, well, "parrots" back, is both a natural choice and a wise one, meaning the bird doesn't need the accoutrement of the aristocracy to put forth that message. Besides the topic and choice of vehicle to convey it, though, the execution makes me quite happy, too. The lines build a very ably drawn bird, and the colors are spot on as far as what one would imagine for the breed, but I do quite like seeing the faded texture on it, as well. I feel fading out makes the bird more wearable for more people, instead of relying solely on a bolder wearer who can handle its equally bold colors. It also does wonders for the texture, especially on the branch. One could certainly do worse than promote themselves as a proponent of literacy and art, and they certainly could do worse than sport this shirt to do it.

Finally, for the music lover who doesn't love birds, how about an octopus? In an idea I'm sure must have been done already, orchard brings us Octopus Jazz, in which an octopus becomes a full jazz ensemble. As I said, I'm sure this can't be a first, but I still love the concept, but what I love more is the execution. The two color earth-toned print works great for a jazz-era concept, and minimal color schemes always look classy as hell when done right. The octopus' tentacles wriggle and writhe in a brilliant tangle, as they should: it's almost pointless to draw this sort of thing if you're not going to draw in the sinewy motion of those arms. But what I like best is the smart use of the blank. The linework is all blank space, and it creates some awesome visual draw, especially since the shirt and the color of the octo are similar foliage greens... the similar colors look great against each other. As a musician and lover of all things cephalopod, I am all for eventually owning this tee.

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