Thursday, September 17, 2009

Contest Watch: Week of September 10

As always, pre-post, I'd like to alert you to Wise Old Master at Goodjoe. It's a Drakxxx, and a former prediction to print in a set of woot Editor's Choices. We like to stick behind our horses here, and this is an excellent one that deserves a good race, so check it out.

One horse we'd have liked to have gotten behind at the time is igo2cairo's "Beaknik," now kicking around Design By Humans, daddy-o. It's just a great, clean, hip graphic... there's not a lot more to say about the appeal. Sometimes it's all about character, and this bird is no square... he's lounging on his branch, just acting cool (note to children: smoking is not actually cool) and being, in a word, iconic. Wearing this will make you one happenin' hepcat, so obviously voting would as well.

Fresh off his print this week at Threadless, Jacopo brings us yet another piece incorporating his apparent love for the odd, as well as red-tones on creme. This time, it's Welcome to Fabulous Las Cerezas. It's a play on the bizarre world of gambling... the classic symbols that slot machines would display without making a whole heck of a lot of sense... a foreign lexicon of winning and multitudes of fruit. Sure, the winner here should be stoked that his life did not give him lemons, but instead bowls upon bowls of cherries, but the relation of these items to winning money always eluded me. Obviously here, it's quite more literal. I really like how the fruit spills out and over from the machine, and the vintage style required to get this joke across makes it incredibly attractive as well. I'm local-ish to Mohegan Sun, and if this were a modern slot, not only would it be nothing more than an odd little video screen, I could easily be getting a jackpot of wolves. And that is not safe. All in all more excellent concept work from a guy who seems to know how to make his seemingly few designs count.

One of the things that made me happiest this week was shirt.woot's "Japan" derby. The contest ended without being the cliché-ridden mess that the theme evokes in the minds of those familiar with woot, and that alone is a huge victory. Still, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that my favorite of the week was left out of the fog. I actually agree this time: Takoyaki! Om Nom Nom by mikan36 is admittedly a very niche piece (not to mention that my blood boils red hot at the sound of "nom" and "num". It's grating to me). Still, what I do love here is the style... it's very sketchy, in a way that both recalls Japanese art as well as some of the sketchy style I love from people like Monsieur Pimpant. It's a little vignette of life, simply and attractively done. It's not for everyone, but I can see myself wearing this in a heartbeat. My only suggestion? If the sketch was just a biiiit thicker (line-weight-wise) or darker, it'd be all the more visible against the bold red (gosh, shocking palette for me, eh?). As it's mocked, I worry about fade-in.

With autumn comes inevitable things. Such as more "horror" contests than you can shake a severed zombie limb at. It's a tiresome affair... so much gratuitous blood, so many zombies (seriously, there are OTHER SCARY THINGS!) and so much grotesque art that is heavy on skill and detail but doesn't really put much stock in things like "wearability." As such, Threadless is likely to be my favorite of the batch this year again, as their designers tend toward more diversity across the board anyway. Stuff like pakpandir's "The Four Horsemen" has all the havoc and creepiness you want from horror. Reapers on zombie horses. Raging storms. Faces of Doom hidden in swirls. But the linework is still tasteful, the palette, in its single-color glory, is not too gory or gaudy (the blue hue used is actually very neutral), and the flow makes it imminently wearable, almost giving a beauty to the mayhem featured here. Which is a good thing, because this is the sort of horror that is unavoidable... best to look at it in awe. Given last year's Horror winner, this is an excellent road to take to "Loves" success, and could serve a pointer to other competitors... keep it skilled and original and wearable. That's what will win.

Of course, the other side of autumn is all about the colors, and that's captured quite well in JadenKale's "Tea Leaves," which is, like Wise Old Master (see the header), up for voting at Goodjoe. This has seen its way around the block a time or two, and I don't believe I've given it any love prior, but I feel it's a really rich design, because of its style. The chunky minimalism gives it a throwback crispness, but there's a lot of intrigue too. The bunches of color that make up the foliage are presented in disjointed chunks. The pot's handle is a root from the tree. The tying the two together makes perfect sense to me... fall has a crispness, and what better time to enjoy some tea or other hot beverage? Winter is just too cold sometimes... the drink becomes less of a joy and more of a necessity. I am, also, drawn in to how simple and, again, minimalistic the "fall" aspect of fall is done... three leaves, cookie cutters from the swaths of color, dance in the steam of the pot, as leaves blow in the wind. It ties together well in a simple but creative way. Definitely worth the print for this time of year.

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