Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Trick or Trick

Oh what a week for Threadless... with no less than four awesome tees making their way immediately into my cart, it's easy enough to call this one of their best weeks ever. We may end up saying more about more of them later, but for now, let us focus on a former star of film, screen and contest watch.

Cruel Joke garners tenso his alumni shield, and a deserving win it is from a guy that seems to be chock full of puns and non sequitors. It's a totally Threadless joke tee... any good one should have a solid punchline and a style that doesn't distract from that joke. This one delivers with a little dark humor, with a simple but attractive style that has wide appeal. It would feel at home in a Far Side collection, with that crisp comic style and the personified slugs. To me, that means the nail has been hit on the head. If I had any critiques, it would be that the size is maybe a titch too big for the simplicity, but nevertheless, it's a soon-to-be classic from an account that I'd be shocked to not see often in Threadless' print schedule.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Contest Watch: Week of October 15

Before we begin this week, recent contest-watch designer ChuckU contacted us in thanks for our support and write-up. He included a link to his site, which has some incredibly sick art. Check out his store for some truly hot prints, and then browse back to his site for more awesome.

We start this week at Design By Humans. Our subject: Ra/Sun God, by wowrainbows. It's a lost entry from the world of Threadless (from a remake community collab), and it's gloriously red. It's also very mysterious and moody... there's a calm to the sunny scene, with its clouds adding character without shrouding the piece. The all-seeing eye of the sun and the floating pyramids add an inscrutability about the piece, too, inviting the imagination and sense of wonder that both nature and such iconic man-made items can instill. It has definite power as an image, but is still totally shirtable. And holy crap does it need more votes.

When I was gathering info for this week, I'd remarked to some colleagues that I simply couldn't justify talking up anything from shirt.woot unless there was a slow week elsewhere... their Halloween derby was among the most pathetic showings the site has allowed. But even in a slow week, there is a sheer charm to dekonstruct's "Saddest Ghost Ever." It's a perfect storm, if you will, of melancholy and despondency. There seriously is no way you cannot look at this and have that sadness evoked. Look at him! He's stuck in the rain with no candy! And a patch! It's such a downtrodden little ghost that you can't help but have your heart go out, but also it's so extreme in its heart-wrenching that it borders into dark humor... he's so bad off that it becomes schadenfreude. Not only that, I think the cartoon style works well here, and love the rain effect, which not only hammers home a damp depression, but looks so attractive. One of very few shining lights this week.

At Threadless this week, ilovedoodle's "Happy Birthday to Me" is an incredibly peaceful piece, which is nice (especially after their horror-riddled releases this week). It gives a very seasonal feel, too, with the scarf and the bare tree, while not forcing itself into a seasonal niche (this would certainly be wearable year-round). The flow of the light definitely reflects the idea of candles being blown out, and the bend of the tree helps reaffirm it. Granted, when I think huffing and puffing, I think of wolves first, but I find the bear quite charming. Also, purple. There's just not enough of it.

On the other end of the Threadless spectrum from adorable cartooning, we have Fawn in Headlight by jstumpenhorst. The immediate likability here is the hugeness and boldness... it's art for its own sake, not complex and colorful like some pieces, but steeped in solid graphic design, big and stark against the tee. There are four color options, all inherently wearable, but the one I offer here is the one that seems to capture the most nuances in the ear area (while the magenta option is simply most striking visually to me). Others highlight the wonderful linework in the face, while the eye is ever spotlighted. The eye of a deer is big and deep as it is (hence the term "doe-eyed"), so the highlighting of an already attention-grabbing feature just brings all the more attention to it. There's a fragility in all this bold power, too... the lines highlighted by the eye look almost cracked, about to shatter, as if foreshadowing the possible reality of what is behind that illuminating headlight. It's a dramatic piece that may not really fit Threadless, but sure as hell would look hot on a tee.

Finally, back to DBH, for something we've seen surprisingly little of there, despite its reputation for bold, complex prints. What mj00's Little Bird of Fall lacks in timeliness (if printed, it would likely find itself doing so 'round spring, or else waiting a year for it), it makes up for in charm and collage-done-right. The way the textures flesh out the bird makes each leaf seem perfectly chosen for its role, from the slender point of beak to the stems sticking out as legs. The leaves mimic the normal plumage of a bird (the red leaf at the head is a marking that adds a lot of character), and the shape is that of an adorable youngster, no less, not a mature adult, which ratchets up the cute. Most importantly, I just love seeing collages that not only make a degree of sense (taking a bird in a tree's leaves, and making a bird of tree leaves), but prove that, contrary to what many do, photo art and design can still be relevant and fresh, not just clunky, stolen dreck under the guise of avant garde. Not that birds are truly "fresh," but anything well done and differently done certainly cannot be rightly called stale. It's only a matter of time before DBH takes someone up on the offer of this style, and there's no reason not to be this one.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Matching Towels

Since longtime readers, collaborators, and all around friends-of-the-blog JadenKale and MJ are both involved in tonight's offering from RIPT Apparel, I feel I'd be remiss to not mention that the former's first curation and the latter's second print will be appearing at the site this evening.
The tee is Rock Lobster, which I like for the simple bold colors and of course topic matter (longtime readers know I have a soft spot for crustaceans and palettes like this). This particular piece is especially charming to me for the unique style, simplicity, and the lobster's transparency, which adds an intriguing effect. Definitely worth checking out if you've got a soft spot for cheesy jokes or sea life.

Overall, I'd like to note that even in its infancy, this whole "curator" thing at RIPT seems to be boosting their overall quality immediately. I am all for this, and I look forward to getting acquainted with each curator's personal style and preferences. Jaden has personally been dropping some tantalizingly vague hints my way, but besides this, I think we'll finally see RIPT come into its own as quality increases. Or at least that's my hope. We could have one more depository for Star Wars rips and traced photos. But hope... it doth spring eternal, and the early days gives me much to hope for.

Don't forget, you can't stop the rock, but the lobster gets boiled at midnight Central tomorrow.

Going Green

This week was a bit of a chaos-fest in Adderland, so we were not able to tell you all about the amazing Wise Old Master printing at Goodjoe. It was a hopeful Editor's Choice at woot a long time ago, but is just now finally printing. Oddly enough, while Drakxxx, the designer, is best known for his more horror-tinged work, this is easily one of my favorite pieces from him despite the huge topical departure. That also means that, while it's a much more spring/summer design, the mid-October printing is right on schedule for him.

The overall design is just an incredibly peaceful, happy setting. It doesn't hurt that the smiling tree reminds me of an old He-Man mini-comic I had in my youth, which gives a nostalgia along with the skilled linework and attractive green palette. I think it's also going to give Goodjoe a good workout as far as their print capabilities... I've been happy with my tees from there so far (even mine looks 100x crisper printed than I'd have thought), but they've had predominantly simpler pieces, and if they can pull off this sort of detail with ease, they're definitely ready for the big time. I think it's a risk worth taking, especially if you grab it before the weekend is over... the Goodjoe presale saves you quite a bit at $10, so take advantage of it!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Contest Watch: Week of October 8

Holy nonsense! There is a lot of stuff to support elsewhere this week, so let's get to that first:
  • Burning Mountain from BeadlerWorks is now up for votes at Design By Humans.
  • EricaTheRed's Skyscrapers have sprouted up at Tilteed.
  • Teextile may be the final resting place of Ninthwheel's Final Approach, which I've been pushing for well over a year and which needs a home.
  • While neither has been an official CW piece, the fact that I had to check suggests you might want to give theinfinityloop's "Combustible Prey" and studioelle's "Aerial Wonder" a looksie on their latest spins around the vote-o-sphere.They're at Tilteed and DBH respectively.
We start the new stuff at Design by Humans with one of my favorite sort of pieces. No, not red and white on black, jerks... I'm talking about when I see a designer with a distinct and offbeat style who finally hits on an idea that can show the world what they're all about while also having a high chance of finally printing. Lately, ArtrocitY has been doing just that regularly, but I think she has hit hardest with her Legend of Mont St. Michel. It's really beautifully crafted, and a huge, dramatic print. What I especially love is how classical it feels... the city looks like a painted fresco, while the angel character feels more at home on a Grecian urn. The combination really makes this feel like some unknown ancient collaborative canvas. I simply can't think of any shirt like it.

In a fully different way, I can't think of any shirts like Owlctopus, either. This Chuck U design is up for votes over at Threadless, and there's so much to like about it... it feels like a secret collaboration of sorts. It's almost part steampunk, with the jaunty hat and the exhaust pipe eyes. The textures feel totally valorandvellum, and make the owl parts look stunning, while the insane yet wholly attractive and enticing tentacle addition evokes a more cthulhu feel than octopus, simply because this design is divine madness. One thing I really like here are the pink paramecium-looking accents. They break up the antique looks and the earth tones with a chunky, smooth, and very pink contrast, like the frosting on a strawberry donut of craziness. There is so much weird going on here, and it is 100% awesome and wonderfully illustrated. What I love about tees like this is that they're so out there that they are so referentially unbiased. Some tees rely on people getting pop culture, others on understanding a style, or simply being familiar with a shared human experience. A tee like Owlctopus, though, has nothing to "get"... it's so purely a matter of mental invention and lunacy that there is no one who could not appreciate it, so long as one has the ability to appreciate something unique for its own sake.

Also reveling in abstract oddness is Hyenatopia, by Somnixer. Again, this is really a shirt for the sake of wearing and admiring, not analyzing, but I love the style and the textures and the overall feel. I feel guilty writing up tees like this when I really can only offer it at face value and leave you to marvel or not, but they still deserve their place here for their je ne sais quoi. For this, I am simply reminded of the epic "Vortices" in some ways, and I am all about getting as much similar work out there as possible.

I'm much more able to explain my love for Opifan64's The Lost Beach. It reworks an older piece in the designer's vast and consistently amazing menagerie series, condensing the work to one side of a tee and making it all the more wearable for it. I love how the massive bones flow in their layout, something the prior wrap placement never had. Of course, the flow itself has nothing on the incredibly skilled renderings of the fossils here. It adds to the already fascinating nature of these sorts of ancient "monster" burial grounds. The sheer size and number of what we're seeing here makes this look like a fantasy just as much as a scene of discovery. This makes it an incredibly versatile shirt, not just a wonderfully executed one. It's a dinosaur shirt that would make just as much sense on your son as your dad due to the classy illustration, and it fills the chest in such a way that it'll be perfect for layering... an important consideration with the winter fast approaching. After all, if this does snag a print, it's not unlikely we'll see it over Christmas, and who's gonna wear a tshirt alone out and about in that season? I'm hoping we do see it sooner than later... this reworking definitely improves upon the original, and I'll be honest, I was hoping to see the original print too.

Finally, we'll end off at Teextile. One of the things I've looked forward to most there is consistent subs from cibasnide. He does some amazing work with odd characters and work that often looks like a crest of sorts, and I love his (her? who knows, who cares, right?) color schemes, and especially the propensity toward gold. This is pretty standard fare from the source, called "Submission." Whether it is meant to be on that subject, or it is simply an untitled situation doesn't much matter... it's just nice to see some consistent work that's also coming from a creative starting point. Go support the guy... he's got enough stuff that you'll surely find something you dig.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Contest Watch: Week of October 1

Things to vote for: First, Robbie Lee's apparently had The Post-Apocalyptic Blues up at Scopial for a while. You should probably go vote for it. Second, Againstbound's Dark Matter is at Design by Humans, so all you little boys should throw away your action toys and get that to print, because it so deserves it (I promise, it will look hothothot). Finally, over at Threadless, littleclyde has resurrected an oldie from the Chimpogo voting pile: High Tea, High Seas. You may not remember it, but it's worth a vote. All these were former CW mentions, and all of them deserve your continued support.

We'll start this week at Threadless, where one other person who needs your support (besides all those people at the start) is theinfinityloop... she's had some epicness go clinically under-appreciated over there, and we'd hate to see Painted With Water suffer a similar fate. Besides the statistical pros to her printing (first female wooter to turn Threadless alum is not a bad title), this is some glorious texturing... the water drips look amazing, and the bleed of color along the paper is very reminiscent of those old books that aimed to level the artistic playing field. It's a very artistic rendering of a memory that any budding artist can remember, since literally anyone could do it. The water colors (as opposed to watercolors) are nice, but it is made still better by the charming linework. It's a tribute to water as life, but it's also a tribute to all of us who can only wish we were so artistic.

Next, we go to the graciously finally ended Threadless Loves Geeks contest. There is seriously not a whole lot that could leave me colder than 3000 entries of taped glasses, computers, and videogames. I don't care that Geek is the New Black, or the New Sexy, or whatever. There are sites to buy horrible tees to proclaim your sheltered computer-nerdity. Threadless? Threadless is a place to buy a hilarious joke tee that plays off the geek concept without only being geek-wearable. Something like herky's RAM. The design is sharp and clean, but also, quite literally stuffed with his charming cartooning. It's a great and easy pun, sure, but the characters playing out their roles are so fun and brimming with life that even without that, it could get wear simply as a charming absurdity. The colors on the rams pop wonderfully against the otherwise dull blues of the tee, and the sheer overcrowding not only makes it all the more geeky and punny (what geek WOULDN'T have a computer jam-packed with plenty of RAM?) but also lends a great visual that makes it all the more stand-alone without the admittedly simple pun. Even in a contest decidedly geared toward anyone but me, this can't help but make you smile.

It's nice to see some work from Design By Humans this week, namely In The Forest Where You Sleep, a collab between Sublevel and J3Concepts. What I love about this is how it's so spare and vibrant at once. It melds nature with the synthetic. The piece feels wire-frame, then paint-by-numbers, then topographic map, until finally it settles as simply a unique rendering of a fox. The text, looking part logo, part scientific, and all obscure, is an addition I actually quite like. Most text kills a design for me, but this seems so unnecessary as to become the design as well. There's a playfulness here that bursts out even though the rigidity of the structure, and helps makt this one of the more unique pieces I've seen.

At shirt.woot, the site known for selling shirts from woot, Bootsboots gives us Redundancy National Park, by Bootsboots. It's about a national park full of redundancy. As I said above, I don't usually like text-heavy work, because I feel it is too heavy with text, but the humor in this makes me appreciate the humor in this. It's surreal and absurd, which is the sort of thing I like, from the surreal and absurd creatures to the overall concept, which feels like it's taken straight from a Monty Python sketch. The concept is totally Pythonian, and the colors are highly attractive, especially the way the cranberry blank works against the blue background, which simply pops off the cranberry. It's a humor shirt I appreciate a lot, since I'm into surreal and absurd humor, and when people say they like woot for its humor shirts, it makes me wonder why this didn't do better, because it is definitely a humor shirt. I wish it had done better, because it didn't do well enough, in my estimation, but if it ever prints, I want to buy it, so a buy will be inevitable if it prints.

Finally, over to Uneetee, for one of those "seriously, it hasn't printed yet?" tees. Caesium-137, by ninthWHEEL, has made the rounds, for sure, and yet has never fully gained a print. I've seen it enough that I had to check to make sure I hadn't blogged it before... if I missed it, oh well! I'm not 100% sure how an apparent elemental isotope relates to an eagle and some lines, but the eagle is well drawn, while the lines draw the eyes well. It just FEELS scientific, given the rigid structures and simple concept and odd juxtapositions... maybe as if a laser is being shined against the bird, searching for its chemical properties? At least that's what I get out of it. It comes down to being an attractive shirt, and one that sits well on its canvas. We wish it luck somewhere, eventually.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Spot of Tree

Here in Adderworld, it's about time for the annual forevercold. A magical time when my already big head gets nice and congested until spring thaw. So yeah, it may be true that I'm not a huge fan of autumn. Still, there is something incredibly charming about the normal fall color scheme, and I think it's shown off well in JadenKale's Tea Leaves.

It's this week's new Goodjoe print, and it's on pre-sale for $10 until Monday. I really like the simple, chunky, bold style here, which gives it a feeling of a classic poster of some sort. The colors, as I said, work quite well, with the standard fall hues, but also the blue teapot standing out starkly against the brown. But I love the concept as well, with the warm comfort of tea mingling with the crispness of autumn, as represented by the tree itself. One of the true joys of the colder seasons is just how cozy warmth tends to feel after being out in the elements, and I think that that makes this a great homage to the season. Definitely worth picking up to sport for the season.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Total Sum of Ancient Lizards Ascend to Our Lord

For this, the first week of our tenth month, heretofore known as October, let it be announced that Threadless, purveyor of cloth garments of the highest sort, shall be holding a vast discounting of their most classic wares. If thy tastes doth lean toward the vestments which have withstood the test of our times, perchance you will wish to purchase one for but $12. A mere pittance!

For those of you more enamored with the new ways, your eyes shall be pleased to direct to the bottom of Threadless' front page, where you shall be treated to wonders which you will truly marvel at. Namely, Sir Travis Gentry's tribute to the monstrous lizards of old, the Dino-Saurs. In All Dinosaurs Go To Heaven, this man of lines does magic two-fold. Firstly, he becomes the first woot-based designer to print not once, but twicely at Threadless. However, what could be even more the joyous occasion, this is verily the first fruit to come purely of that barren woot vine. It is a piece once up for print at woot's derby, and much as naught but weeds grows in its infertile soil, it is a matter of celebration to see such a seed of promise grow so tall in the fertile crescent of Threadless. It is proof that woot needn't be a place bereft of quality... to be sure, if you work to the standards of this gentleman, while you may not succeed at their fouled reservoir, your potential can blossom truly anywhere. For many, it may be more to their liking to carpetbag around where they can manipulate with their dastardly deeds, but, kind readers, we trust that you are wise enough to realize what is the higher calling. We congratulate Mr. Gentry for reaching that level.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I'm a Little Glowing Friend

While we originally spoke of today's shirt as being up for voting at Teextile, it is up for sale tonight for $10 at RIPT apparel. The switch-up is fine by me; RIPT seems to need more exposure, and with Teextile on the cusp of switching blanks, neither site really has the quality advantage, so why not save a couple bucks? In general though, I definitely recommend checking RIPT regularly... no site can elevate themselves without a solid customer base, and the more people who tune in, and the more people who buy, the more solid artists will consider submitting solid pieces.

Anyway, today's solid piece is Tobias Fonseca's "Binary Song," which I love for the sheer oddity of it. I don't -truly- get it at all, but it's so striking, and the concept is so tied together, that it doesn't matter. All the links are there: the monitor displaying the singing bird, the hands "playing" the keyboard, the music coming out as zeroes and one-esque notes... there is a solid concept shown, even if it's not clear what it is, and I think that its solidity is what makes this so inherently wearable to me. It could mean something different to each wearer, and it's damn cool when that happens.

This'll be on sale for one night only (about 23.5 hours as of now), so you should definitely pick it up nownownow. These sites revert rights back to the artists after their sale period, but there's never a guarantee you'll find them anywhere again. And if you want more Tobias, hey, will you look at that, he was Friday's tee over at Teextile this week, with a haunting design that is one of the site's best in months. Both tees are lost to oblivion with the tolling of midnight Central tomorrow, so don't dawdle!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Contest Watch: Week of Sept. 24

So normally, around here we'd promote some of the awesome CW entries that have gone up for voting elsewhere in the last week. To be sure, I feel like I've seen some of these very items up for voting somewhere this week. However, before I go on this time, I'd like to thank you all: last week's contest watch went up on a day that ended up churning out nearly 700 views of this here blog, and this week I've been awarded a badge from the fine people at The Daily Reviewer. Now, I don't rightly know if there are even 100 tee blogs out there, but it still feels good to be called one of the hundred best (and on the first page, too), so anyone who may have mentioned me to those guys, thanks a million! If you could use that exuberance and excitement to support my sidebar work, it'd be much appreciated ;)

That out of the way, we start, as we often do, at Teextile, which is enjoying one of its best weeks to date this week (Friday's might be my favorite, no less). We're looking at an old friend here that has somehow never found a print, nor a reference here: the_jcw's "The Incredible Flying Contraption of Waste." If printed, it'll be a big test of Teextile's print capabilities, not to mention one of their best tees to date... there's just so much going on in this huge wraparound print, with a sketchy style, some great steamwork colors, some of the eye-tentacles I've fallen in love with elsewhere in the designer's work... incredible is a good word for it. The design is so big on the shirt, and the contraption so creative in design, that it almost looks like all texture for the sake of texture, and it makes the whole piece simply more epic than anything else you probably own. A great print choice, if they do indeed choose it.

Next, to Threadless. Among the pieces that drew me in over there this week was That Last Goodbye, a poignant piece by randyotter3000. If I'm being entirely honest, part of the charm here is that it has shades of EdgarRMcHerly's minor classic "I'm Not Dead, You Just Don't Know How to See Me," but while I think that there is little way to match the pure devastating poignancy of that one, I think this one has a bit of a more personal slant. Both have their own whimsical charm in their styles, but while Edgar's is achingly beautiful, this is beautifully aching. The difference? Here, we see that desire to hold on, and the pain of losing something in the immediacy of the moment. There's no idea of passing time to dull the sorrow... this is going on right now. That the scenario is acted out by two cat-otter-things has the interesting effect of not just making the whole thing all the more "aww"-inducing, but using cute, goofy looking characters helps coat the pretty bitter pill one has to swallow accepting this image. Stunning in its simplicity and message, and wisely illustrated in a way that makes it wearable, despite it's heavy message. Perhaps it's a reach at a site so fond of its jokes and wit, but its a shirt which would pay back tenfold for anyone who related to it.

If you need something a bit less heavy, maybe Dual, by outline, is gonna be more your speed. It's not really a groundbreaking tee conceptually (ooh, a wolf. How original?) but its execution makes it something special. It's very tasteful... the colors are attractive and the layout is intelligent. I love the layers here, and the levels of transparency. I enjoy the ornate designs on the geometric bits (which indeed enhance that very layering). The sliced and shifted face, too, makes this feel a lot less straightforward and a lot more artistic. It's just an overall intriguing and ultimately fresh-feeling take on an otherwise somewhat tiring theme, and to see that at all makes it worthy of some praise.

Shirt.woot was a vision in red this week. Red like meat about to be cooked. Red like the coals on a grill, or an electric coil burner. All convenient considering the theme: cooking. The winners? A bit underdone as usual. Still, there was real brilliance this week, starting with Spaghetti, by cashland, which marks the second great Italian inspired tee in as many weeks (both on red, no less). For this one, the real awesomeness is how much character is put into the piece. The pasta chef is brimming with charm, to the point that the piece reads more as 12 individual lookalike chefs puttering around making the ideal bowl of spaghetti. The flow is great and natural, and the style has soo much to love. It's the sort of piece that makes the rut that is the shirt.woot derby stand out all the clearer: this is brilliant work... an original, attractive, and on-topic shirt. That it is not to be printing this weekend should make anyone wonder just how woot can justify such a perfect representation of quality and theme sitting so far out of the running.

Since a meal is best finished with a lovely glass of red wine, we finish on a cranberry note with a tee I was truly shocked to see flounder this week: "Baked in a Pie," a collab between conceptual heavyweight tgentry and lineworker extraordinaire Drakxxx. It has the former's strong compositional sense and the latter's darker touches. I personally love the subtlety of the colors... the way the brighter red works against the darker one, and the way the black interacts against both. It's strong and smart and attractively done, and I personally hope to see more collaboration between these two. It's a smart concept with a solid flow and it deserved far more than it took in, especially considering the individual success these designers see regularly.