If there's one constant to rely on during what has become an at turns busy and lazy summer, it is the Contest Watch. The time when I tell you all about the awesome things you need to vote for. The time when I praise the people willing to take risks and be awesome instead of ride the waves of mediocrity. The time I talk about the following five shirts.
As today is the sale date of my Teextile pick of the week (Mitohapa's "Metamorphosis"), it seems fitting to start with a piece up for voting there: Julianglander's Battle At Sea. It's an easy pick for my tastes, marrying crashing linework waves with squids fighting whales, and with a simple color palette that nevertheless is an unsurprising choice for me to appreciate. The little bits here really do it for me, though. The main squid is so damn happy going to war against his whale, despite his brethren being defeated in ridiculous and humiliating manners. I also like the "ghosts" rising up, presumably representative of fallen soldiers on both sides, which create an interesting triangular feel to the piece.
Finding its way into the ol' CW for the first time in a while is ShirtFight. It's a bit ironic, really... the theme there this week was one I truly dreaded: ninjas, pirates, robots, and cowboys? Any time people actually BEG for the memes to come out in force, this little blogger gets worried. But like RIPT's concurrent "Robot Week," I feel I got far more than I bargained for for a theme that feels so entrenched in uncreativity. Probably my favorite is Robbielee's "Unplugged," and to me, the reasons should be obvious. One of the first things that caught me about the entry is the texture. The guitar has a faithful wood tone, and the robot gleams like the metal menace it is. I also enjoy the pun, with an electronic creation strumming an acoustic guitar. But even past that juxtaposition of plugged and unplugged, I enjoy the natural and synthetic interplay... the robot is decidedly bulky, especially compared to his instrument and the sounds which would come from it. Still, even his posturing shows him as shattering the stereotypes of his robotic past... I especially like the humble bowed head. And likely after that, he'll go shatter the last remainders of the human race. That's what robots do, after all, right? A very well-done character piece.
Off to Threadless, I can't say enough good things about Wah Wah Wahhhhh, a collab between Ivantobealone and Montro. A mix between a Debbie Downer sketch (hence the onomatopoeic title) and the Threadless classic "Spoilt," this gets a nod from me for being far more appealing than either of the two. Where Spoilt is chock full of words, this gives us far more to look at and appreciate. The shape is far more organic and wearable. And while the other tee relies on one caring about film, this revels in universal spoilers, branching to anyone who likes a little snark, dark humor, or bitterness in their day. It even seems a bit less dickish than ruining the end of a movie to tell someone that pandas will go extinct. I love the style also, with its old time nostalgia making a perfect fit for the barbed and factual humor, and the palette is perfection. With all due respect to Olly Moss and Rachel Dracht, it's simply far more appealing to look at.
I'm possibly alone on this next one, but for the few of you who will recognize just how brilliant k-proj's "Antlers Are In" is, I am quite happy to have shown it to you. The illustration itself is simple elegance, like it was snatched out from a sketchbook page. The animals selected are all recognizable, and the variety of poses adds a nice flow to the overall design. The layout itself works wonders also, creating an almost circle, almost swoop of creatures... all the branching and curving of antlers and horns only helps to tie the flow together. No lie, the inclusion of a jackalope here makes me smile, as well. The fine, penciled look of the linework makes the light blanks suggested a perfect fit, but even more so because both shades fit perfectly as the coloration of the woodland denizens inhabiting the shirt. Finally, I'm actually really jazzed about the small dots flecked about the design... they're dull against the white, but burn brighter on sand and cream, which lends even more visual interest to the whole piece. It might not make it to print, but I certainly would buy if it did.
Of course, if you enjoy your deer purchasable instead of hypothetical, do be sure to get in to vote for Grande Elusion, another collab, this time between the ludicrously talented buko and silverqe. The main illustration is wonderfully illustrated and ornate, while the glow elements make it magical. What I really love is that both designs relate to one another and yet stand seperately. Many specialty ink pieces only make sense in one light, or else need both to really keep the same appeal. This is two seperate and gorgeous designs made even better when taken together. It's really a must-see, so do go view the full submission... it explains everything far better than words can.