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.

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