Thursday, November 19, 2009

Contest Watch: Week of November 12

Good evening, folks. We'll be getting to the contest watching in just a second, but first, we'd like to note that Chris Risse's awesome "Icecream From Spaaaaace!" is currently up for votes at Teextile. Those are some super colors on a solid concept, and we'd love to finally see it come to life.

While we're at Teextile, we can always chat about Cibasnide, who has garnered most of the recent Contest Watch praise from over there with his weird little characters and his often twisty linework. His latest, Me and My Friends, seems to refine some of this. The piece is less ornamental than some of his others... there's actually action, and the characters exist in a bit of a vignette. The style is sharper, and the detail seems a lot slicker... instead of the more tube-like linework in other pieces, this feels more like a gust, given the delicate wisps of lines inside the chunky ink swatch running diagonally up to the sleeve. It looks great, even if that description isn't the most articulate. The placement here is the real winner (hopefully Teextile will be printing it as shown if they select it), and the colors all work fine, but one of the nicest touches is how the "friends" in the piece all help break up that ink swatch, making it way more breathable and, in turn, wearable. They're fun characters that also serve a functional purpose.

We travel next to Threadless, and their "Threadless Loves Travel 2" contest. It's admittedly had a lot of very solid pieces so far, and among the most charming is The Suitcase Stories, by Ben Chen. The storytelling here is just lovely, with the old suitcase telling the younger ones of all his travels. Each vignette gives its own sense of place, so the overall piece gives a feeling of all the great stories experience can bring you, not of the tedious "when I was your age" clich├ęs. It also has a few other layers... first off, the idea of a suitcase being just as well traveled as its owner is a nice one, but then, the stickers all over it indicating the places it has been are an interesting correlation to how many people view tattoos. This one represents my time in China, that one reminds me of when I visited the Sphinx... it's a personal attachment that Old Man Suitcase has a permanent reminder of. As for final touches, I think the palette is smart for the "old timey" nature of the memory-keeper, and the scenery in his mental photos loses none of its charm or recognizable bits, but the choice of suitcase styles really is a subtle and perfect touch... after all, who really uses those old suitcases these days? It helps set the character in a way most of us would simply pass over, and that makes it a wonderful, wise addition.

At Tilteed this week, we get even more endearing with a freaking bunny. Yeah, I went there. But Thunderpeel's Stormy Nightmares is far more than the sum of its elements. It is exceedingly clean, legitimately cute, and well composed... descriptors which most designs with similar endearment potential rarely seem to care about. The shape is attractive... every bit of the piece is composed with respect to the shape, and it creates a wonderful finished product. The colors are perfect... the simply black and white is offset brilliantly by the orange of the foxes. I have to presume that when people find some shirt graphics too cumbersome for a shirt, they're thinking of something like this as what belongs there instead. This really does fit the bill for a classic style graphic tee.

Less classic, but just as classy, is Threadless Travel piece Flight of the Elephants, by Igo2Cairo. For me, the style is the pure winner here. Sure, there's some humor in watching the ponderous animals float nonchalantly across the plains, but too much time in the trenches has made flightless-things-in-balloons less magical through constant repetition. Still, the elephants are charming due to style... everything here feels hand drawn and then colored... this could be canvas work, not digital, and that roughness that is so often lost these days is part of what gives art the ability to intrigue. The colors are just as smart as the technique, conveying a circus-y feel to the pachyderm procession, and a rural landscape familiar to anyone who has flown over the heartland. I actually far prefer the "dijon" colorway shown in the sub itself (if you're not getting it's inclusion here, for some reason, definitely check that out and I think all will be obvious), but any way you slice it, the work here is top-notch and worthy of praise.

If you've made it this far and are wanting something that isn't charming or sweet, we'll end with a reward: Metal on Metal by aziritt, up for voting at Design by Humans. What I love about this is that it is exactly what it promises, while still being extremely wearable. It's not over the top. It's not gaudy or generic. It's not so brutal as to be laughable. But it's undeniably evoking the musical genre it attempts to pay homage to. The colors here are pure win, with the contrast of the magenta against the black linework and eventually fading into the inky cloud about the guitarist's head, and that very cloud makes the placement on this killer as well. This would be perfect printed, and would easily become a favorite concert tee of mine, even un-metal as I am. If we gave starred reviews, this would be one. It's simply that sweet.

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