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.

1 comment:

B.D. Crabtree said...

Totally right about the Fawn tee - classic graphic design done right. Shame it didn't get printed!