Thursday, August 20, 2009

Contest Watch: Week of August 13

I've got a good feeling about this week. Not that I have any reason to, as such, but it just feels successful. It feels right. This weeks shirts are but time away. Here they come:

We're gonna start this week at Scopial, which we've mentioned a while back, but have never really featured in Contest Watch. They're continuing to bring in some great tees, but it's always hard to get into the swing of things with new contests. However, I was incredibly drawn to casajordi's "Jolis Monstres" this week. The designer is most known for his collage work, but there seems to be a lot of illustration in this gloriously odd little piece. The tableau is almost an "American Gothic" type of feel, or the sort of thing you'd expect to see in an old family photo... three generations seem to pose here, though the family in question seem to be plant men or space aliens. I love the details on the new humanoids, with their bulbous heads and spore-like faces, and the other plant and floral elements add an ornate setting. The textures add both to the otherworldly scene and the aged feel of the image. Definitely an entrancing and engaging image.

In it's own way, one of Shirtfight's best pieces is a collage as well. This week is a free-for-all over at the most violent tee contest on the block, meaning entrants can enter anything they so desire in hopes of bringing home the prize and print. It is also their first double-week contest... the site's feeling a bit of a crunch, and feels a two-week contest will allow them to provide the same quality without taking a huge financial blow. Which means you'll have time to head over and vote for mathiole's Sensationalism before the contest is over. It's a totally visceral piece... chaotic and clashing... and as I suggested before, it feels like a collage. Not that I doubt the sources here are the designer's own, but all the elements are combined in a way that feels built and, ergo, collaged. I'm actually really big on most of the oddest elements here. The text and subsequent graph-icon-nonsense seems to fit well here, giving a context to the otherwise tripped-out content without fully spelling the concept out. I think part of why it works is that the image itself is so out there... the classic mathiole man-with-a-non-human-head is the most natural bit, what with the copious, ominous smoke and the three flame-spewing wolf-pirates. Seriously, the cerberus brothers are probably my favorite part, busting out of the TV head and barking at us. It packs a lot of metaphor, but more than anything it has a really unique look to it. Combined with colors that almost hypnotize the viewer, this piece really goes over the top to create a design that requires you to put the time and effort into grasping, but once you make it through the haze, the payoff is huge.

It's a bit bold to insist that this week is a success week when I'm featuring a shirt.woot design... losing a derby is often the last stop for a woot piece, as many designers find it hard to break in other places, or even gain the momentum to try other sites. Still, I have high hopes for Mitohapa's "There Goes the Neighborhood". It's a totally whimsical concept. What I really love is that you can tell where the concept likely began, but the rest of the piece still feels natural. It's obvious that this started with the house of the Baba Yaga... it's the biggest, the most unique, and among the most distinctive. It leads the pack on its trademark chicken legs. Still, while the others are maybe a bit smaller than they should be (it's hard to fully decide scale and distance here), what is true is that they have all been added as a natural mass, and that makes them feel totally in place. The diversity of the buildings is part of what brings this together so well, along with the pleasing nature of the palette. Also, again, that mythical structure taking the lead helps transfer its inherent magic right down the line to all the real shelters behind it, helping it feel enchanted and not just odd. Great work.

I feel like it's been a while since we've talked up a piece that was great for its humor, not just its art. That's why I can't pass up Cruel Joke, by tenso. You can find it up for voting at Threadless, which is a perfect venue for this concept. The cartoon art is smart, giving appropriate depth and characterization to possibly the least-characterizable creatures on earth. The colors are bland but work perfectly for the vignette, and the humor is spot on... it feels like a Far Side comic, with its dark humor and anthropomorphic gastropods. This scenario is even more vicious than the water bucket classically used. While the big payoff is the joke, meaning the image is pretty spare otherwise, even some of the subtle details are very nice here... the slug-family portrait on the wall is a nice touch, and whether it was intentional or not, I love the fact that the area rug is fringed like a paramecium of some sort. Great concept on this one.

One of the greats of the week, though, comes from long-absent favorite Aphte. While he often charms and amazes with big, bold and busy scenes, he tones that down with this week's Fish King. It's a great character, as so many of his characters are, and its ornamental patterning signals just how stately this fish is. The colors work amazingly, and coupled with the shapes, it makes the fish feel like it's kept in the domes of Moscow. The other side of the coloration, though, is a less characteristic darkness that blends and shadows skillfully against the deep ocean blue of the blank, giving it a feeling of being underwater. Overall, everything here just works to give a stylish and bold yet incredibly wearable shirt.


Cody Wayne said...

That first shirt was on DBH. I voted for it a couple weeks ago.

Adder said...

Wow, how'd I ever miss that? I'd've written it up earlier!

That's certainly a conflict of print interests, then! I'll never understand why people can't grasp the idea of "we hold the rights to your work for X days". Casa basically said "well then, let me go violate the contracts I signed up for, making me risk not getting printed either place, or even legal issues since I went back on a contract."

It makes me so sad that so many designers don't respect the contests they enter.