Thursday, November 5, 2009

Contest Watch: Week of October 29

If it seems, dear readers, that I have been neglecting you... well, OK, I have. You got me. I've actually found it hard to buckle down and blog lately. Or really stay up past 9pm. But when I start neglecting the most important post of the week, that is when I clearly need to rein it in. So without further adieu, the latest crop of awesome for the annals of to-be-printed.

We'll start today at shirt.woot with EdgarRMcHerly's "Lon and Mr. C Visit God," which is as appropriate a title as we're apt to get for this. It's no secret there's a lot of Edgar love 'round these parts, and it's nice to once again have something to really represent why we love him so much. This really has the best of all worlds, with his wonderful, charming and odd characters, his skill with halftone textures, his glorious oddball themes, and his ability to make anything look awesome on white. For me, a big part of the charm is some ballsy color choices. Pink and lime green are hard sells for just about any piece, but here and together, they work and shine. The colors are bold in choice, but muted in hue, which is quite lovely. The winner here, though, is the abstraction of "God". His representation is little more than iconic, with a tie hung to look "official" and angels, with their faces censor-barred, holding this effigy up. It's a visually intriguing piece largely for this characterization. Hopefully it is something we'll see again.

Threadless, as the case is for many weeks, holds court this one. Oddly enough, their now ending "Pop Life" contest is dominating the proceedings: odd because I generally cite Warhol as being at fault for the gross commercialization and ergo downfall of ethics in modern art (one has to wonder if we'd have such blatant disregard for copyright and intellectual property without his influence). The nice thing is, many people really looked at the more avant-garde and inspiring aspects of pop-art, such as in ilovedoodle's "Perception x Reception". This feels like it could fit any number of other "Loves" topics better: Innovation, Geeks, New Art/New Ideas... I simply love the way the piece imagines something as simple as our sight, with the character here holding an antenna, as if looking for reception for his vision. The huge glasses representing sight are a nice bizarre move, but what I like most is the use of color being projected from those huge, floating lenses. It's a piece you can really sit and consider, but the colors and layout makes it hugely wearable as well.

Elsewhere in Pop Life, we see Ste7en's "Hybrid," which just feels nostalgic for me for a handful of reasons. Besides the colors feeling, for reasons uncertain to me, a bit '80s, the illustrations themselves remind me of those incredibly awesome Hot Wheels cars which all were both roadsters AND bizarre creatures all at once. I bought the hell out of those as a kid, and hope to buy the hell out of this when it prints. Besides those similarities that touch a chord in my oft-neglected nostalgia center, the idea is nice in that it plays on two popular ideas: the current green revolution turning "hybrid" into a buzzword in the auto industry, as well as the concept of combining two things to get an unexpected, fantastical result. Here it is cars with creatures, which is outlandish enough for the concept that it is only later that you realize that you're looking at a Ram... a Beetle... a Mustang. It's really sharp conceptually, and even without that sharpness, the lines and construction of these special hybrids are wonderful to look at. Sealing the deal, though, is that I've been pretty in love with stripes lately. I hear they're flattering. Maybe.

Surprisingly, the most "pop" of all the Threadless pieces I'm discussing this week (by my perception of the style, at least) isn't part of the competition at all... A Sound More Interesting, by WanderingBert, takes a crack at re-imagining Nipper, the classic RCA dog. The reference is clear right away... ol' Nippy is suddenly drawn away from that old gramophone and over to a small hole in the floor. One of the smartest UV Ink pieces I've seen (though my saying this is often a kiss of death... sorry WB), the sun brings out a score of colourful cat-ghosties, which may not make a whole bunch of sense (the dog seems pretty calm if what he's looking at is a world of cats), but certainly delivers with some wonderful color and flow. I think what works best here, though, is that it is not a regular "parody". There's no attempt at a real joke, more of an homage, but the more serious approach makes this more respectful than the average reference. It uses the imagery (and a different style of it, no less) to comment on how there is more to life than the same single note... the phonograph might be fine most days, but sometimes you need something surprising, colorful, and different. Be artistically curious, it seems to say. Not bad for an animal known to be colourblind!

Of course, if Nipper's phonograph was anything like Lunchboxbrain's Song Bird, he might never have gotten bored in the first place! Song Bird (up for votes at Tilteed) is one of those hardest-to-wrap-my-head-around pieces: the dreaded Found Art Collage. It's something I can't understand, even as a creative mind with a hand that couldn't draw attention... when I deign to create something, I'd rather it be imperfect and purely mine than perfect and otherwise. Still, it is hard to fault the designer here for some impeccable choices. The colors are perfect together, the pieces were selected as if they were made for each other, and the layout is ideal. The backdrop of musical score really seals it for me. The great thing about artistry is that sometimes it all just works, no matter how hard you may want to fight it. This piece is one of those sorts, and deserves recognition for just how flawless it comes out... even with the art done for you, it is a rare collage work that is done so impeccably.

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