Thursday, July 30, 2009

Contest Watch: Week of July 23

If I thought last week was busy, this one is crazier.

Blog favorite tgentry has been blowing up the classics at Threadless lately: Contest Watch fave "All Dinosaurs Go To Heaven" is finishing voting tomorrow, while his lovely Durer Koopatrooper is newly posted in a somewhat changed form as "Life Study of a Dangerous Creature." Robbielee has also subbed a CW piece to DBH, with some new background and the revamped title "Those Post-Apocalyptic Blues". If they're new to you, check 'em out... you'll love 'em. If they're old to you, why aren't you votin' 'em up again?

Also at Design By Humans this week: more sale, and the end of the DBH10K subs. I'm feeling a bit mixed on that, because it really feels like there is less true awesome this time around. Maybe I am speaking with the curse of nostalgia, but I've perused a few times (and likely will again) and there's a lot of stuff that feels, I dunno, a bit tepid. Besides the normal crop of entries that make me wonder if the designer ever looked at the site, it rather feels like it's split between "generic DBHy pieces" and "great, unique shirts that will never win the 10K," and I bet you can figure where my picks are landing. To be sure, it's not as if The Mollusk Charmer by mizaveta is the most inspirationally awesome thing ever posted at DBH, but it is really rockin', and if promoting it means it'll have a better chance, I'm all for it. As with all octo designs I write up, it's the octo itself that I am most in love with... they're such ugly critters, but this one is done wonderfully, and those snaking arms are as eye-catching as ever as you follow each one, not only from body to tip, but around as they twist. Unlike some common tee elements, the cephalopod is natural because of its fluidity of shape and movement, which helps every skilled rendering feel fresh. The concept really sinks its teeth into that fluidity, letting the mollusk wriggle and writhe as a snake does for a snake charmer. The art feels a bit mystical, as it should be given the tradition shown, and I love the colors, with both bold and subtle touches against the orange blank. Which, as DBH hopefully remembers, they have to create anyway for the sake of Hogboy's "Taipei Rocks". I'm watchin' you guys.

Of course, some of you may well be wondering: if there's an octopus in the snake pot, where'd the snake get to? In all likelihood, the octo probably gave it a death blow with its chitinous beak and ate it, but kinzoku's "The Two-Headed Snake's Mortal Foe" presents another possibility. This is very smart shirt design, surprising considering that the shirt.woot derby it came from yielded so little worth looking at. The color palette, staying in a very defined range, helps add a lot of texture to the combatants here, and while it's not particularly bold on its own, it pops like a cornfield on the sun against the lemon blank. The snake is particularly well-rendered here, but the mongoose is looking good too... past that, there's just a little texture to imply ground and shadow, which helps keep the graphic simple yet unites it to give it a sense of belonging there. It's got a bit of a "why?" factor... there's no logical reason outside of the contest theme for either animal to be two-headed... but it does have a nice subtle jokeyness to it. Somehow the two-headed snake isn't far-fetched enough to me to question, so the two-headed mongoose can remain a punchline, even out of context. It does, however, lead me to wonder: if so many shirt buyers insist they want something funny and simple, why can't this ever be that? You can be both without having to resort to something blitheringly basic.

Also simple, yet far less obvious conceptually, is iQuitt's "Oya & Ono," featuring what I have to presume is a hirsute, animal representation of yin and yang. Oya is the joyous one, with a soft but undeniable smile, while Ono steeps himself in a palpable yet not oppressive negativity. I like how the two creatures flow together, and even flow individually, helping give more visual nods to the idea of yin and yang without hammering it into your head. The colors, as well, do well to foster the concept... Red and Blue are both primary (with the yellow blank being the third), so the colors are bright and bold and work wonders to start with, but they are also opposing colors. The flecks of each shade against the opposing creature's legs speaks to the unity and intrinsic bond between the two. Even the speech balloons, again in opposing colors, work well... not only do they help make the idea here more concrete, but hey, if you're gonna use lettering, use hand-lettering. It always ratchets up the charm, even when it's already charming. A disclaimer here: Tee Invaders, where this is up for votes, for some reason disallows you to view entries without being signed in. Keep that in mind if you click through.

I don't want to say there was a shortage of good Threadless picks this week, because there wasn't. I guess I was just excited about having such a diverse set of tees this time around that I didn't really allow myself to fall too deeply in love with many of the entries I've seen. Not the case with ginetteginette's Tipi Man. I don't know if it is possible to not love this one. It's an extremely simple main graphic: a tipi/tepee/teepee/wigwam, with a little dude sleeping within. Oh, and the tepee has eyes for some reason. It's odd and simple, yet strangely attractive. But the real payoff is the incredibly intricate patterning here. It looks great on a number of different blanks (see sub for details), but the important thing is that it looks great. It makes the tee look totally unique, and the two tones look like even more for it. The detail of all the flowers and vines and general flora makes a great backdrop for the wide expanse of flat color on the tepee, allowing the two textures to play off each other. It's not "classic" Ginette, maybe, but it is definitely pushing boundaries, and with the addition of the weird and whimsical centerpiece atop the visual wonderland of the background, it may be different, both among other shirts and the designer's usual fare, but that uniqueness makes it, in some ways, totally fitting within her portfolio. This is simply the sort of tee that makes reviewing tees exciting and rewarding... nothing else is quite like this.

Finally, off to Uneetee for the sole holdout on what was unintentionally "bright shirt color week," adamsw216's "Sundrip Orange Sundae." Not that there is not a lot of brightness in the piece itself, but at least the blank is a bit more subdued. There's really nothing to the piece that can't be summed up in the title: there is a sun, it is dripping, and it is orange. Presumably the designer likes ice cream, also. The overall package, however, is really attractive to me. I am usually very over watercolors and drips and splashes, but the color combo here, as well as the positioning, really sell the image, and the textures seem to be chosen wisely and for compositional reasons, as opposed to simply being there as the style of the moment. It's nice and abstract and wearable, proving you never need to "get" a good shirt... sometimes there's really nothing TO get.

So that's the week. However, if I may, I'd like to ask a little favor. I've got a piece up at Threadless myself this week, entitled Point.illism. If you so desire, I'd much appreciate if you gave it an honest score (or barring that, a blind $5 won't be that offensive), and perhaps a comment as well. The entry will be linked, as always, at the top of this blog's sidebar, if you are interested in voting.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A New Tilt

Today, at noon Pacific, Tilteed launched its first official contest winners. Tilteed is the newest of the ever-growing number of tee contest sites out there, and hey, nothing wrong with that (though the lazy part of me feels like if there was a site called Teevotes.com to compile all the designs up for voting at all sites into one convenient interface, life would indeed be sweeter). They plan to put new shirts up at a pre-sale discount every 72 hours, and that timeframe, with its irregularity melded with frequency, already sets them apart (as well as the fact that, with the exception of Threadless, whose model is different in all ways anyway, they seem to be the only contest site reliably updating during the day, not late at night. It will be interesting to see if this strategy effects their success.

But it's more than just schedule that sets this site apart at the early onset. Consider their grand prize launch winner, "Get a Job" by Rawroutlowd. It's a really unique piece, featuring a contemplative mixture of Billy Corgan and Strong Sad. The character is clearly feeling a bit melancholy, and that melancholy spreads through the rest of the design despite an overall bright and sunny look. The colors make me think of Popsicles for some reason... those specialty boxes that had the pineapple and blue raspberry pops, not the regular grape-and-orange ones... which makes it a great choice for the season. It's entirely possible Tilteed selected it simply because they knew I'd be enticed by it for its cooler tones in what has been a rather sweaty week. The colors aside, tho, the character is fun, even if he looks sad, and the general milieu behind him creates a great backdrop (I really like how some of the ornamentation seems to fade into the splotchy background). But what I find most noteworthy about this design is how it is far and away from what any other shirt company would award a prize as big as the one this won... it is rare that most would award this any prize resulting in a print. So I don't know if there's something in the water of the voter base at this new site, or if their aesthetic is simply more accepting of less popular quirk, but this really gets me excited about the site's future... it could well become a site that truly goes for underdogs with amazing designs. Because this is definitely a solid design that I can't imagine getting similar attention elsewhere. Interested in it? Snag it now before it hits regular price, and show the new guys that you're loving what they're doing. Because if this is a strong indication of the path the site wishes to take (as well as the second place print by the always awesome a.mar.illo), there may finally be a tee savior for the hidden and ignored gems.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Past Glories

We at Singularitee aren't particularly enthralled with this week's selections from Threadless (The Select curations especially are a special kind of let-down). It's always a bit sad, since we like to laud the new as soon as we find it. Thankfully, though, last week was a near goldmine that we were unable to explore due to other obligations, and one of the most valuable treasures Threadless dug up was The Composition, from the clinically under-printed NiNTH WHEEL. It's the sort of invention probably every musician wishes was real, a keyboard which works as a typewriter. As such it evokes just as much of an "if only" feeling as it does a smile or even a laugh. The illustration is skillful, and pretty true to what an old typewriter would look like, and the colors work brilliantly (even the ever-hated heather gray is a stellar choice), but the concept is really the heart. It's the sort of juxtaposition that makes Threadless more than just a t-shirt purveyor, but also an art gallery and an institution of creativity... it's a combination that goes great together but requires a creative mind to bring it about. May Threadless never forget what makes them more than just a clothing shop.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Early Morning Reminders!

This has been a hella busy week, and I feel like I only glossed over a couple things, so to review:
~The Design By Humans Anniversary Sale ends tonight. The $5 tees are getting slimmer, but it's still worth the browse, and you still get 10% off with code TJD4K0.
~Today's also the last day of Uneetee's Mystery Gift Certificate promo. $5 gets you at least a $6 GC, or up to $100, so it's always worth the gamble.
~Today is ALSO your last shot to pick up "I Want to Dance, Too" at Teextile. Don't miss it twice!
~Finally (I think), while neither entry is ending today, don't forget to vote for Contest Watch faves Steampunk Willie (shown) at Threadless or Sweet Child o' Mine at Tilteed!

That all said, I'll be seeing you later in the day for a (far less colorful) bonus post, I do believe. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Contest Watch: Week of July 16

Holy crap, dudes. It feels like FOREVER since our last CW, and as such, I feel like I've been depriving you of a LOT of awesome. I'd love to get straight into the goodness which is this week's shirt selection, but there are a couple notes I must make. Firstly, Tgentry's "Steampunk Willie" is amazing (duh) and now up for voting over at Threadless. Second, a shirt we've long been a fan of, yet has never gotten its deserved print love, DCAY's "Sweet Child o' Mine," is up at new contest site Tilteed. I love ya, new contest sites, but seriously, the names are just getting lamer. But with an awesome DCAY shirt in their arsenal, lame names shouldn't be a hindrance. We love our CW entries like children here, so if you could toss 'em a vote, we'd be ecstatic.

Sadly, our contest watch hasn't seen scads of Design By Humans work as late (though we have discussed them recently: see elsewhere for details on that sale of theirs)... the last one seems to be Prehisteria, about two months ago. I personally blame the huge "Music Series" contests for shifting the focus away from just being human and designing, but even this year's DBH10K isn't really bringing in big guns and awesome designs. This being the last week to get those entries in, I'm hoping the great stuff is either in the queue or just about polished, with their designers taking every free second to make something truly special. For my money, right now, popwilleatitse1f's Invasion should find itself printing that week, whether as the big winner or as a top-5er. I love how original the invading monster feels, even though the idea of a massive world destroyer is nothing new. That the designer created his own character speaks volumes in today's design world, but the skill of the drawing is also commendable. The creature has an eerie, serious calm to him, as if its task is commonplace and just part of the daily grind, and its features, shriveled and soulless, make the creature seem mythic and ancient. The shading here is no less great than the characterization in the lines... the whole piece fades into the canvas without getting lost, and the contrast isn't so stark that it looks wrong, as some white-on-black pieces can be. Overall, this is the sort of thing DBH does best, to me: big, bold and unique.

Two weeks ago, at the time of the first CW I missed this month, the centerpiece of my Contest Watch was going to be The Nightsong, by TheInfinityLoop, which was entered at Shirtfight's Heavyweight battle. Since SF doesn't have a "hold" period for designs (meaning one can be entered elsewhere immediately if it doesn't take the prize), this week it is Threadless' infinite gain. Everything about this design is stunning... the placement, which inhabits the shirt brilliantly without cluttering the tee or leaving too much negative space. The textures of the moon and the planet below, and the way their shadows play along their surfaces. The ethereally light mist of star-music showering the satellite's planet, and the ghostly arms and instrument creating the song. The colors fit perfectly, bold enough to stand out against the dark tee, but warm enough to blend as well, so the contrast is pleasing, not blinding. What it comes down to is it simply works as a shirt. It's attractive and artistic, yet it's not difficult to appreciate and understand. It's a simple concept executed skillfully to give it deep undertones. And while space and music are popular themes, I can't think of anything off the top of my head quite like this.

Jagdalack's "Sparrow Escape" is bold as well, but in a fully different way. This is about color and execution for me, as the concept isn't much new or special... it's almost not a concept, really. Still, I love the rusty gold here, and I love the texture it's applied with. That natural, brush-stroke feel is just perfect to give the thick swirls here a sense of movement, and the placement, at the shoulder and over the heart, really makes the design enjoyable to look at, for me. This one's up at Bad As Hell Clothing, whose contest is only just resuming, so not only should you check this shirt and the site out, but if you design, consider an entry. Remember, great designs build great sites.

This week was a bit harrowing for Threadless fans, for reasons I won't give even further exposure to. So it was nice to see what felt like better subs than normal over there. Lest we forget that Threadless is the top tier tee site not for chintzy cash-grabs but for creative tees that range from truly inspired humor to brilliant and original artistic shirts, consider a piece like mr. spiers' "The Scales of Patterns are Dripped in Your Favour". I will be the first to admit it is boxy, as I'm sure some readers know it is often an aversion of mine, but to me, allowing elements to sprout from the rectangle, as well as creating a drippy bottom, gives this just a bit more oomph to better fit the canvas. I appreciate the mint blank, but what I appreciate even more is how each scale here has a different pattern attached to it, and how the patterns remain so diverse yet still remain visually appealing, while also not getting dull given the limited (yet perfectly harmonious) color palette. Even so, it is the hand-drawn nature of the patterns that really gives this intrigue, and the critters and flair emerging within the piece that really give it life. This week it was no problem finding scads of interesting work, from great humor to amazing illustration, but to me this is the sort of sub that really gets ignored when the voting goes haywire, so I had to feature it. Trust me, you should consider browsing the rest of the site to see what you probably missed in the hypestorm.

We end this week with a piece from Uneetee... something I'd LOVE to see printed, among any number of other things they should print, whenever they decide to print things again. While their $5 "mystery" gift cards are always a fun investment (you're guaranteed to get at least $6, so if you're a fan of the site, snagging one could be prudent), there's not a lot of motivation to buy if the back catalog remains small... it feels like they've taken a week off from printing new shirts every other week for months now. So add candysquare's "The Sound of Music" to that already backed-up queue. It's no secret that music is my first love, and so a great music tee, while a rare print occurrence these days, is always appreciated. This one happens to have great colors and a wonderful flow, and while I can't shake a nagging, clip-art feel with all the copy/pasted elements, it's a solid example of what needs to happen in a collage. Each tiny piece is literally creating a bigger picture, and becoming more than itself. The final outcome is attractive and wearable and fun, and comes across with a purpose to all the pieces. You can't really ask for more, yet many do far less.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Foxy Teefury Spoiler (On Sale Friday)

I'm honored to be bringing you yet another Exclusive Teefury Sneak Peek today. Sadly, I don't have a long time available to do any sort of blogging today, so I can't really go too in-depth, but I would like to touch on the piece at least briefly. It's "The Mischievous Mr. Fox," presented by YAWN and curated by Jimiyo. Yeah, I thought this was a Sonmi, too, so don't feel bad. I'm not particularly sold on the gradient here, but the illustration is spot-on foxy. I have to agree with Jimiyo, this is "whimsical and well rendered fox," and it's nice to see some illustration that looks like it's both hand-done and skillfully rendered. I am always a fan of hand-done lettering, even if I'm rarely a fan of text, because it adds huge appeal to an element that is normally robotic and static, using soulless fonts. And let's be honest, the Harry Caray Glasses are enough to make any woodland creature thrice as awesome.

This'll be up for sale at Teefury all day Friday and only Friday, so if it's calling to you, that'll be the time to snag it. Until then, you may lust after the mock-up below.

Bird is the Word

One of the things that infuriates me (one? just one?) is seeing amazing talents fail time and again to net a prize for their innovation, skill, and overall awesome offerings. Among the most clinically neglected is a guy who goes by the name of AgainstBound. You've likely seen his art 'round these parts a number of times, but we haven't really had a chance to talk him up for a sale. Thank God for Goodjoe.

Goodjoe's tagline is "Inspires Change". I have no clue how much change they're really inspiring, but they do donate a certain amount per sale to charities, and more importantly, they've changed the general availability of Againstbound prints, which is good enough change for me. The piece, Fading Beauty, has some recurring elements of his work... geometric elements as a backdrop, lots of melting, birds... but it remains clean and peaceful even with the dramatic and somewhat jarring elements. I love the imperfection in the artist's work, yet how the whole piece comes together organically and naturally. I feel that many designers spend too much on perfection without putting ANY time into passion and meaning. To me, this is totally different stylistically, while still being comforting and familiar, and the message (save nature before it disappears... melts away, if you will) is subtle if you're not looking for it, but clear if you are.

Goodjoe does a week long pre-sale for all their new shirts... you can snag this for $10 any time before Sunday. I'm personally a huge fan of how this looks on Seafoam, and a little disappointed there is no comparable male option... I'm thinking Frost Blue might be your best bet. But really, I think this'll look great on any of the suggested colors, so buy with confidence. As a heads up, though, Goodjoe will sometimes offer more diverse colors for their pre-sale, and then settle into the most popular (or perhaps artist recommendation) after that week, so if you want to be sure of having a chance at more flexible color choices, best to pick it up now on the cheap.

Monday, July 20, 2009


As some of you may have already noticed, Teextile is holding a reprint week of some of their older designs, before they started their current week-long sales structure. It's a great idea for the site: it allows their newer fans to get the shirts they featured when they had fewer followers, and it allows the designers to benefit from a week of extra profits, instead of the single day they had originally. We here at Singularitee are most excited about this because it gives you all an extra chance to snatch up Recycled Wax's "I Want to Dance, Too", a Contest Watch favorite from way back. It'll be available to pick up all week, but Tuesday (that's today, dig?) will be your chance to get it cheaper. It came out great the first time around, so don't miss it the second time.
After Tuesday? Grab it here.

Design Blowout! Hoorah!

So Design By Humans is having this huge sale this week. So? So there are shirts as low as $5. That's 75-80% off, homey. The cheap ones are going preeetty quick, so definitely check the stocks ASAP. And hey, with code TJD4K0 (that's a zero in there) you can get another 10% off. Sweet deals. Check 'em out.

What makes this sale extra special, though, is that it is the FIRST DBH sale to discount their newest shirts, printed on their "Perfect Tee" blanks. Compared to the $5 shirts, their discounts might seem paltry, but I cannot say enough nice things about the feel and cut of the new shirts. I'm not huge on the bottom-back-of-shirt brand-tagging, but I -am- sheerly in love with how my body feels in the tee. I don't care if that's an overshare... you need to check out the DBH Perfect, and a sale is the time to do it. You wear it. You understand.

If you need a recommendation (not that you should... there's a whole half a year of Perfects to browse and lust after), I'm oddly drawn to the recent "Technographic". It's not a surprise, color-wise, but is a bit shocking stylistically... it's a big ol' cluster of craziness, done in an oversmooth vector style, which isn't really my bag. Still, when it debuted, I couldn't take my eyes off it. There is SO much to see and to drink in visually that I feel like it would be worth buying just to be able to appreciate it up close... the smoothness comes off as polish here instead of design-by-numbers, due to the mechanical mood given overall, and the lines and cogs and bits and bobs combine in almost alien ways. The hands reaching out are unavoidable visually... they're not a little unsettling, bright red and smothered by technology as they are, but they are arresting for it. It won't be for everyone, but it's definitely a tee worth checking out. And don't forget, any classic DBHer reprinted this year is also now on the Perfects, so if nothing new is appealing to you, maybe there's something old you've been waiting for back in your size?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Going Apelad

We give shirt.woot a hard time often here at Singularitee. I don't apologize for that, because they usually deserve it... I find it probable that most of you, loyal readers, know what I mean. Still, I am intrigued by the site's Second Anniversary extravaganza this week. The dailies have all been guest-curated by Adam "Apelad" Koford (shown approximated to the left). Adam has been featured at woot before, and will be including his own work in his week of curating, but he will also be bringing in some high profile names, at least in the internet world: Mark Frauenfelder is the co-founder of BoingBoing, which originally made me fear for internet ephemera, but also the editor-in-chief at MAKE Magazine, which means he could easily bring us something awesome and creative instead of webhumor 2.0. R. Stevens, who like Apelad has been printed at woot before, is the brains behind Diesel Sweeties, a webcomic. And then there's Mitch "Spacesick" Ansara, a cartoonist/designer who maintains a strong presence in the Threadless community and is the creator of the supremely awesome I-Can-Read Movies Series.

I'm most excited to see what Spacesick has for us... his work is often simple and cartoony, leaving plenty of room for his comedic prowess to shine through in concept, but his characters are also distinctive. It's not what I generally go for in a shirt, but I respect that he's making a solid joke in there (I won't lie, I laughed audibly at his WereBurger). On the other hand, I'm not at all excited for Stevens... I hear that Diesel Sweeties is "hugely popular", but all I see is hideous pixel-art and worse punchlines. Actually, I rarely see punchlines at all. That said, the strip HAS been around for nearly a decade, so if you're actually a fan, please feel free to comment with your favorite installment(s) and show me what I'm missing. For now, I'm simply expecting the worst.

Overall, though, this is one of the few new developments shirt.woot has rolled out that makes me at all excited. It's not perfect, but it shows a shred of interest in keeping woot diverse. I will stand up for woot's dailies any time... they are the saving grace of the site for people who want great tees, because unlike the derbies, great tees occasionally pop up as dailies... but lately even they have felt increasingly stale, and a good week of curating from a different viewpoint could help, especially if this sort of thing happens more often. I'd love to see actual wooter-curated weeks, with popular site-based designers selecting their favorites. My main gripe, though, is that it IS a week of dailies, and the dailies are technically ALWAYS curated. It's interesting, but what I'd really love to see is a guest-curated Derby. That's the part of woot that is in need of a good shake-up. Still, I am cautiously optimistic about this particular experiment. Here's to a good week, guys. Check it out, and feel free to leave your commentary on how it's going here.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Back to Blogging!

Astute readers will note that I have been conspicuously absent yet again this month. This time, it was a pretty vicious virus. Not in me, as people seem to presume, but in my computer. It made sense to me that, if my computer was being such a bastard to me, I couldn't trust what it might do with blog access. Currently, things are back to normal and clean. Which is always good.

This does, however, leave me verrrry far behind, and while I would love to cobble together some Contest Watch items or pull out a summary, I feel it's best to plod ever onward. It is, however, important that I do note that last week's Threadless bounty included another Contest Watch featured design. This week's winner was pilihp's "Arr, Let O' Me Nuts," a piece I heralded prior for its intelligent use of mixed-media... the idea is made due to the photo-real squirrels, but the magic is in the cartoony doodles over them, bringing back a definite nostalgia to anyone who has ever "edited" photos, taking pen and marker to old magazines with reckless abandon. In all honesty, I don't know how I feel about the final results... there seems to be a certain glare on the shirts that makes it hard to really tell how it came out in printing, but based on execution and concept alone, I feel comfortable sending you in this tee's direction. It shows how cute can mix with creativity, and how stock content can be transformed into something imaginative, not just sloppy collage.

Also, while you're over at Threadless, do consider voting for That Old Movie Magic for Bestee of the Month. You've only got this weekend left to do so, so make it count.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

BAHC Sale + Teextile Reminder

While I would like to remind you, of course, about today being the day to get my Teextile Pick-of-the-Week for $12, it is more exciting to announce that one of my fave small-scale storefronts, Bad As Hell Clothing, is having a one-day Summer Sale today. All shirts are just under $15 for 24 hours only. These guys sell some awesome stuff, so I can't recommend them enough. My favorite remains Edgar R. McHerly's "...Excuse Me" (shown left, a former Contest Watch item), but I can't see you going wrong with anything in their catalog, so give it a good browse. It'll be the best decision you make these next 24 hours.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

All Over Week at Teextile

This week is "All Over Week" at Teextile, the first of what will be monthly "theme weeks" there. For the most part, it also seems to be "shadowy, live-traced, black and white week," as the diversity for me is really lacking. There's not a lot of personal style being evoked here. Which is why I was happy when I got the big picture on "Tall Trees," by Spacegirl. The textures break up the shadows and creates a lot of depth, which takes advantage of the full canvas, but the thing that really pulls me in is that fox/deer hybrid strolling across the tee. It's done in an almost calligraphic style, which makes me unable to stop looking at it. It's eye-catching, and the choice of shirt blank makes for a wonderful moodiness. If you want a new oversized print, this is the one to get this week... it'll be available all week at $15, but on Wednesday will be on sale for $12.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Contest Watch: Week of June 25

Late blog is late due to a million and one reasons, not the least of which being some good old fashioned summer laziness, so with the cool air of way-late-at-night surging in, and my fingers crossed for it not to downpour like every other evening this week, here goes:

Somewhere in the dregs of the "Fake Band Shirt" derby over at shirt.woot, homeschoolwinner came up with a charming little idea in Electric Bill and the Charges. For starters, it's a great band name, insofar as it parodies one of the classic band-name stereotypes (Someone and the Somethings) with deft humor... the idea is so mundane at first, but once you realize the finer points of the name, the point shines through. There could be a guy named Bill who goes by this name, and "the Charges" is a totally generic backing band moniker. Though really, once the absurdity sets in, the idea of an Electric Bill fronting a band, or even a band calling themselves Electricbill, is pretty classic. The logo itself is pretty perfect too... it definitely evokes a cover band at your local bar, while having a classic cheese factor that would be perfect back in the 70s as well. It's like Huey Lewis meets Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. And with a color scheme like this, it's quite possible the Muppets were on the designer's mind... it's fun and eyecatching, and answers the question "why the hell do I want to wear a fake band shirt?"

By the time I finish this blog, I wager the most recent Shirtfight contest will be over and, once again, I will probably be perplexed as ever over the eventual winner. I'm having a tough time cementing the weekly contest's taste, but pretty consistently it seems the answer is "not mine." As such, I am sad to announce that Mandolin's Pangolin, by r4fitch4, is probably not even close to the pick of the week. A shame, because it's certainly one of my fav's from Black and Blue week, despite making more sense as "Pangolin's Mandolin". Not the least of my appreciations about this tee is my appreciation for pangolins, which are about as underrated as an awesome animal can get. Also impressive to me is the use of shirt blank, with it showing through heavily among the creature's scales, while not making the overall feel seem disjointed, and the cartoony style, turning the little guy into a charmer in a fun hat. But I'm most digging the color palette. It seems to really run with the Black and Blue theme by giving off that purple-blue tint that everything seems to take on by moonlight. You can picture our friend here serenading his pangolin world until the late hours, while everyone has an awesome, pangolinny time. It adds a sense of magic to the piece, and implies a bigger scenario than the single character can convey.

As usual, Threadless picks up the bulk and slack of this segment, beginning with WanderingBert's simple but charming "Losing the Connection."It takes it's concept there and back again, first imagining a deer's antlers as television antennae. It's a fair comparison, with both sporting many branches and a daunting, weapon-like shape. One could even suggest that deer are in tune with nature as we tune in to television. But one would probably be more pretensiously verbose than I. What I do like best about this piece, however, is how it starts with such a simple idea, then translates it back to make it all the deeper... the deer is rendered as static and white noise, what most of us in the modern age most associate with archaic antennae such as these. It's an image that leaves itself wide open for interpretation and discussion, making it artistic in its simplicity, but for all the meanings we could glean from it, the final truth is that it looks awesome. And that's all I need to consider a buy.

Despite talking it up fourth, Babatai's "CHENAPAN" is without even remote reservations my favorite shirt of the week. It's a lovely drawing, for starters... the storefront here is made up of equal parts hand-drawn beauty and European charm. It makes me yearn to retreat to a small town overseas, where I can see this sort of scenery daily... a charming café or convenience shop just inviting you in to mangle the local language in front of the good natured staff. I feel like I saw any number of places like this when I was in Italy, and it brings me back. The colors, mostly earthy with a couple subtly less-natural tones, are calming and pretty much perfect for a good viewing. It's not only classic from this artist, but it's classic simply on the basis of aesthetic. It's so appealing you almost miss the fact that, hey, THIS CRAP IS WEIRD! I mean really, what the hell? Some little rabbit demon is fishing for a fishman? That's something I -definitely- didn't see in Europe. But the characters are so nonchalant about what is going on, and so whimiscally drawn that while they'll cause the average viewer to do a doubletake, they don't taint or cheapen the work, but naturally add to it. The weirdness seems totally in tune with the rest of the image, as if everything is so charming and unassuming that the totally quirky aspects blend in as though nothing happened. Absurdity is one of my first loves in art, but this piece's style is so great that I'd wear it even without the fish dude. I'd buy this in a heartbeat... it's truly wearable art.

Still, let my love of the last piece not taint you against the also awesome "Dinner is Ready," gracing us courtesy of Jacopo. Here, the weirdness is evident in everything, from the fun cartoony style to the bizarre idea. It's a great two-color design, utilizing its spaghetti dinner shades to solid effect and little surprise given the action. The scene plays out like a Monty Python one... the lumpy vikings are here to storm the tower, but the tower-dwellers are having none of it. Some medieval fortresses would use vats of boiling water as a weapon in their defense against hostile takeovers... you can imagine you'd probably run too if someone was about to dump boiling water on you. Here, the water has long boiled, pasta's been added, a sauce has been made, meat has been cooked, and the whole mess is about to bring some pain to the adorably vicious attackers. Yet they are ready: they've brought a huge fork as a battering ram. I love how this scene has its own internal logic... the war probably is commonplace in the world created here, though absurd to our eyes. It sparks the imagination... what is this world like? How did this rivalry start? What else don't we know? That's totally appealing to my mind. Give it an attractive and charming style and I am sold. I'll have to explain this to anyone who sees me wearing it. And I am fine with that.

Teefury Sneak Peek for July 4th!

We'll be getting to the Contest Watch this evening, but for now, allow me to give you a sneak peek at the Teefury sensation that will be sweeping the nation THIS JULY 4TH! That's Saturday, homey. Check it out.

Behold, "Once Upon a Time," by Sam Schuna. The artist describes it thusly: "Old timey typewriters are awesome, and this shows just a little glimpse of all the stuff that can come out of them with a bit of imagination." Ah, a bit of imagination... so refreshing to see a design pay tribute to that. The design rises up from its typewriter base like smoke... I love the way the linework overlaps and shows through, fitting scads of unique images in a small space... you can hone in and discover every last wonderful piece, or you can let the swirl and cluster of images stand as a whole, which I personally like because it replicates the swarm and spume of the imagination, where a million thoughts seem to rush at each other at once. The colors used to bring the transparent images to life are wise not only for being appealing, but for being distinct enough that every last detail is still totally noticeable. The typewriter anchors the piece at the bottom in a much heavier, almost woodcut style that contrasts with the elegant but simpler linework above. I like how it delineates the mechanical from the imaginative, and the tool from the creation. For people who have been yearning for a good, creative tee, this is almost a must-buy, and quite honestly an excellent gift idea for any true creative mind or appreciater of creativity.

It's really a welcome respite from a TeeFury which has, of late, seemed to be an outlet for media marketing above a purveyor of amazing daily shirts, and it shows just what sort of quality the site is capable of: when TF is at it's best, no other daily site can really touch them on designs. So mark your calendars: this will only be up for sale on the 4th, for 24 hours, and you're not going to want to miss it. Who knows... a purchase could send a message. A message that a design doesn't need to ride the pop-culture train to sell well. And a message that we need more curations from Sonmi and MJ. Pretty please? I can't imagine I'm the only one who misses the old "two and two and two" schedule.

I shall leave you with the final mockup, featured below.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Seventh Son of a Shredder Son

When I look for tees to review, I almost always seek out something I would buy and wear and love until it fell apart and I was sad. Something that represents my design sensibilities. I think that's what sets me apart at the end of the day. But sometimes something comes across my desk that I feel would benefit you, my readers. That is what today is all about; Jon Kruse, a skilled designer and emptees staple, came to me this week to discuss a write-up for his new brand, Shred. I'm always happy to discuss a review, and Jon made it easy to say yes with a discount code. From here on out, you can get 10% off your Shred order by using code "SINGULARITEE". Pretty awesome stuff, eh?

Yes, would be the answer. It is pretty awesome. Jon's work isn't really my normal cup of tea, but his skill is undeniable. His lines can make evisceration hold beauty, and his themes hammer home the site's name, straddling the line between horror slashing and heavy metal fretting. My personal fave of the tees, Iron Eddie, revels in that '80s era, paying homage to Maiden by way of Skeletor, which makes it appealing in both a "comic art" and "metal art" way. Contrary to what I learned early on from fashionistas, the yellows and blues absolutely go together here: they sear against the tee. And while I'm personally not big on "branded" tees, I have to note once again: I definitely appreciate how every piece in the collection evokes the brand name. Many brands seem to slap their name on nonchalantly; Kruse insists on having that brand make sense against the art he pairs with it. It is undeniable that all these tees shred. Slap it on a classic black tee, and you've got a product anyone with a past of living on the edge will eat up. If you're that sort, definitely check out what the man has to offer, and support the little guys.

Of course, I know I have many diverse readers come through, some of whom might be quite the opposite of this aesthetic. For you, I recommend checking out Jon's other little site, Mediocore Clothing, which trades metal revelry for a couple well-chosen pieces of a more nostalgic and often humorous bent. You can even snag 10% off there, as well, with code "AWESOME". These codes will be going in our coupon bank for your future use, but we all hope you'll check things out now, especially while Shred still has that new-site smell. Enjoy!