Thursday, December 24, 2009

Contest Watch: Holiday Edition

All the classic holiday shorts are, well, short. That's part of why they're classic... you can sit around even on a busy day and take one in with your family. They're easily "packaged" in an hour block, which is surely why so many of us remember traditions of watching certain things together. Even "A Christmas Carol" is incredibly brief (a marvel that Dickens could manage it). So let's pretend that's why we've got yet another miniaturized Contest Watch. But as with other traditions, let us begin with those shirts who cannot be with us tonight: namely Troybot, by a.mar.illo, which is up for scoring at Threadless after somehow avoiding print elsewhere this year. This guy's one of the most prolific quality designers on the circuit, and I can think of no reason he shouldn't finally get his Threadless shield for Christmas.

Shirt #1: Deer--ection
Designer: fhigi25

Why I Like It: All the selections this week are from Threadless, and should show some different aspects of why I'm such a fan of their diversity. We start here for the skilled drawing. That's a good-lookin' deer, and it's done in a style that really recalls a sketchbook piece, fleshed out realistically and by hand. It's a style I -always- find refreshing, especially considering how many pure-digital crapshoots are subbed throughout the contestosphere. Seriously, I don't care who buys or votes, an aurora behind stock trees is simply not new or interesting. It also has the sort of free-form association that the real gems in a sketchbook will tend to have... the deer isn't noticeably making a pun, but the arrows growing organically out of his head allow it anyway, even while keeping the classy, natural execution. The colors work wonderfully, to me, and the positioning, especially the flow of the antler-arrows, fills the shirt wonderfully. And I guess it can't particularly hurt that the title is far more unintentionally rude than any other I've ever reviewed. Huzzah!

Shirt #2: A Matter of Perspective
Designer: brainrust

Why You Should Love It: Concept Concept Concept. It's hard to come to an agreement when two fully opposing sides meet, and here, they couldn't get much more at odds. It's an idea that requires that disparity... a poorly drawn guy making a poorly drawn airplane amounts to a poorly drawn design by itself, but adding context, and a more true-to-life foreman to argue with, it becomes hilarity. I think the idea of the other "real" characters following orders for a plane that will never be air-ready (I love the vertical wings... I'm certain I drew planes like this as a kid) is even better than the two arguing characters... it's the idea that "yeah, the boss is kinda odd, but it's our job, so what can we do," and going at it unquestioningly, which enforces this joke. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the two styles, while contrasting quite a bit, seem to play off each other, and certainly the more childish cartoon man (and his sock-like airplane) adds a lot of fun here. But again. Concept, and a strong one at that. Be creative and you're already halfway to awesome.

Shirt #3: The Twilight Rider
Designer: zackOlantern

Why it Rocks and Rolls All Night Long: This is one of those pieces that it's probably truly a matter of personal taste. Where no matter what one might say, you've already resolved to love it immediately, or hate it forever. And yet, I am going to insist that its virtues are so obvious as to be almost offensive to have to extol them. For me the first and foremost bit of awesome here is the color scheme. Everything just goes so deliciously together, despite the unconventional palette. It's like candy, sugary and a little tart and delicious... Skittles for the chest. The colors alone are enough to win me over, but the oddness makes it feel like art... I can't help but feel there's a certain power in the image. Not that I get it. Not at all. But for me, I find that often, it's the images that make the least sense which are most powerful, because they strike you without your knowing why. It could be the arrows or the dripping scenery. It might be the faceless hole in the character's head. The style is just so engrossing that I can't, and hardly want to, look away. And that, for me, is worth more than a million weak pop-culture jokes.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tee-Cember: My Apologies

Every time I go making promises on this blog, I seem to fall short. Those of you who have been following know that I've been dramatically short of "every day" like I promised my posts would be this month. Mea culpa. I should promise to fall short more often. Maybe I'd overshoot.

However, I'd like to note that recently, I was attacked by huge freaking bees, which has kept me away from the blog for a while lately. As it stands, I am still incredibly puffy, except for my pointer fingers, which I am using to hunt and peck along this blog. To the side, you'll see a photo of me being attacked by the bees. I look very calm about it, but this is because they have already numbed my pain receptors. I assure you this is an accurate photo, and not at all Design By Humans' recent print The Swarm. If it was, you'd notice the strong one-color print's realistic execution, bold size, and how it is unlike so many similar pieces. But here, you can clearly see that these are real albino killer giant bees. And that is why I've been so unreliable on posting lately.

Of course, if you were to go to Design By Humans anyway, I would check out their selected sale tees for as low as $10 on the front page. I wish they were doing this "sale" thing in a week, when I could afford to get the scads of great selections they've got discounted (Lucky Day, Vulpes, Taipei Rocks, Magic Snake, Two Trees... It's a veritable feast for the wardrobe). Presumably there's a final day of them tomorrow, but if you're to be busy, get thee to a credit card tonight.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tee-Cember: Royal Beauty Bright

I've always loved Christmas, but I've loved it for secular reasons. Sure, I was brought up understanding the true meaning of it, but the real rewards were anything but. It wasn't all Santa and gifts either, though (though certainly, those were awesome elements). It was the smell of the tree and the baking, the coziness of a warm house, or a warm coat out in the snow. It was the snow itself, the fun to be had and the pure beauty of its gleaming whiteness, and the scent of crisp air and distant chimneys. The family traditions that you looked forward to all year, and now the ones we've made with friends. You can dive into the Jesus and Santa war all you like, it's impossible to not appreciate those simple things that make Christmas special in the now, because they're elements that extend to all holiday gatherings. There's really no other time of year that seems to touch as many people for both spiritual and secular reasons.

That all said, we know that certainly for many of you, the religious side of the season is certainly a big deal, so I can think of no better time to bring Red Is White to you. They've been around for a bit, bringing faith-based tees to the world at large. The best part, though, is that RiW doesn't take a preachy road, but finds praise in designs which are imminently wearable for people of all faiths, or no faith. Consider JulianGlander's "What I Need," among my favorites in the catalog. It's a what-if that recalls the old "money doesn't grow on trees" admonishment. Even with an orchard full of diamonds, the tee suggests that it is what God provides which we need most, and no amount of greed can replace it. The message carries, though, to anyone who appreciates the simple things more than the flashy, ephemeral glitz of modern life. Seriously, the only apple I want is the tree sort... an iPhone feels ineffably like overkill. It even can take an environmental slant... what's most vital is the natural, the life force that sustains us and needs sustaining. That's the sort of thing Red is White does best: putting out shirts that don't sacrifice art for a heavy-handed, specific message, but can be appreciated on a spiritual level as well. If you're among the many who are always looking to express their faith, you may have found your new favorite bookmark, but especially with a $12 sale going on for the season, any shirt connoisseur should consider checking them out. Just like the holiday season, the best parts of t-shirt graphics are the universals.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Tee-Cember: The Season to Support

While many sites have been having big sales all month, Cameesa has gone the opposite direction: December marked the introduction of a new support pricing scheme. $20 is the new support price, double the old standard. I'm personally a bit skeptical of the whole thing really driving support the way they think it will (and I definitely question the economic feasibility of their plan), but there are a couple definite perks for You The Buyer: firstly, of course, every support you may have made at $10 is grandfathered in... you WILL get your shirts if and when they print. The second perk, however, is a hugely elevated kickback for new supporters: while the $10 scheme paid out $0.02 for every sale of a tee you supported, the $20 tag comes with a $0.20 kickback. Again, I question how this will work out for the site financially, but it's certainly an interesting experiment for anyone interested in seeing a bit of a kickback just for having awesome taste in tees.

We at SingulariTee are big supporters of the idea behind Cameesa (check the site for more about the "crowdfunding" idea, including videos), and have long promoted some favorites in our blog header... we continue to suggest these as excellent places to start if you're interested in trying out the new Cameesa scheme. For those of you less willing to make the investment of time and money that supporting requires, though, perhaps their holiday sale will be more interesting to you... they're offering 10% off everything until 2010 with code HOLIDAYS09. We're big fans of Overcompetsation, by tgentry, which has the questionable honor of being the only Cameesa design we've written up in a contest watch (and consequently one we've forgotten to write up til now... sorry guys!) It's a wonderful little scene, and a great concept piece. We tend to think a good, intelligent joke shirt is worth about 100 pop culture tees (especially given their rarity), and getting ANY joke shirt with a seriously skilled execution is a wonder in and of itself. The size hammers home the joke, and the lemon blank is just, well, bright and wonderful. Pick one up... we're pretty confident anything we've ended up supporting will look at least this good when it prints. Yeah, I said when. We're cocky bastards like that.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Contest Watch: Week of December 10

We've got a full lineup tonight in this week's Contest Watch installment for the first time this month, which is always cause for excitement. We'll be starting crazy and ending amaze-y, and hey, what better way to start than noting that we'll start with Redundancy National Park, by bootsboots, who submit Redundancy National Park to Threadless, where it is up for voting. So we'll start by noting that it is up for voting, and you should, because who -wouldn't- want to vote twice for redundancy?

Now, while that will never get old, birds will. So it is a truly happy event that shirt.woot's bird derby had so much stunning and creative work taken from the old tired tee standard. We start off with Omnitarian's "Penguins and Waffles, Together at Last," a combo I certainly didn't realize I loved and needed until I saw it. The crisp cartoon style here is perfect, the concept is appropriately wacky for a cartoon, and the action is diverse and flows attractively. Good cartooning is all about characterization through uniformity, and all four birds are drawn with that uniformity, but with their own distinct personalities. That's part of what makes this a winner, but the colors (appropriately wintry, but overall perfect) certainly go a long way as well. I really love that the penguins are appropriately penguin-y without resorting to the standard black-and-white scheme. Great fun.

Being such a tee cliché, it's no surprise to find many a bird design over at Threadless as well, and I was hesitant to include any more birdage than need be, but then I came across this little bit of weirdness: Love Birds, by Amundaz. At first glance, it's sweet... aww, I love you forever. Then you start thinking about the image. Those are some creepy birds. They're... really unsettling. They aren't warm, not embracing, not sweet. As this goes, they're well executed to look run ragged, disturbed, and brilliantly so (while still being avian). It makes the words take on a new meaning, though... "This is on account of my loving you forever." Has the speaker been driven mad like those birds? It's certainly a realistic portrayal of love... the more eternal it feels, the harder it is, whether reciprocated or not. Is the speaker presenting these birds as a token of his affection? Well, then, that seems even creepier, somehow... these are probably not the sort of gift you want to give to get a repeat date. What starts off as kinda charming becomes depressing and cynical. The image has limitless potential for an awesome hipster statement, or symbolizing those awkward, wild loves we often have. There's too much uniqueness going on here to not praise it for the power of the image.

More conventionally powerful, (and less birdy, thankfully) is Abyss, by Gabrielng. The image captures a swarming, flowing, overtaking image... you get the impression of the helplessness the diver must be feeling surrounded by these malicious fish, dragging him down deeper and deeper. The blue blue blue palette gives a sense of just how deep we've gone... any light is hardly penetrating through the blueness of the water, adding to the oppressive, dangerous mood. A very wearable and mysterious piece overall.

Finally at Threadless this week, we have WEAREYAWN's "Sun it rises," a supremely warm, colourful offering that will be perfect for summer (just looking at it makes me feel better about the ludicrous coldness outside my windows), despite the mountains being snow-capped. The bold colors radiate in their richness, and are perfect for a simple white canvas (which, again, light colors are very summer-appropriate). The really perfect thing here is the style, though. The mountains and the sun are colored as though done by markers, which is not only a really fun style to use, but also one that gives the design a unique, handmade feel to it (as if someone came by with some fabric markers and customized an old tee for you). With the watercolor trend long past its freshness point, perhaps marker-style will be next in line? It would certainly add a unique, new flair to the tee world, and an attractive one. There can't be anything wrong with mixing it up a bit.

OK, so maybe that was a cheap shot at watercolor style up there. I mean, check out our piece de resistance, also from the woot derby. Mathiole's "Independence" is anything but dull and done... the illustration is pure class and totally wearable. The simple color scheme and the vertical lines make for an attractive piece in and of themselves, but the interactions of the birds are what really make this one of my favorites in weeks. They're going Escher on us, with one creating more perches, another erasing a companion, and the last spilling color everywhere. It's simple to see just how well done this is, so from there, I'll let the piece speak for itself. Appreciate it, as I am. I'll be ecstatic to chat this one up again later on, as it searches for a home that will give it the respect and the print it deserves.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tee-Cember: Here We Come A-War Sailing

There's a distinct satisfaction in the tee I present to you today. It is, of course, awesome, or I wouldn't be bringing it to you at all. It is a tee I've lusted after for a while and finally get to own. It is incredibly skillfully executed, with a vintage feel and style and a one-color sepia-tone palette. But most importantly, Battle of the Ironclads II is a survivor.

Like Travis Gentry's "All Dinosaurs Go To Heaven" before it, Robbie Lee's second print at Threadless is most remarkable for being a shirt.woot outcast from a woot-born tee designer. This is big news for me because I'm a huge proponent of the best of woot's designers succeeding elsewhere. Seeing a design like this take the prize at the top tee site out there, where the best of the best congregate, proves that top-notch work is coming from woot every week... it's just not printing there. It's my sincere hope that we start seeing even more of this sort of thing in the new year... there are a number of designers who truly deserve a shield, and each has numerous designs worth printing. What better time than the present?

Speaking of presents, this is, of course, the last full week of Threadless Saletime, and this week's deal ($10 tees across the board) is pretty hard to deny. This one, of course, counts, and there's still time enough to get it in the mail by Christmas for your favorite history or robot buff.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tee-Cember: Signs of the Season

We here at SingulariTee would like to take a moment to discuss the fine fellows over at Made With Awesome, who are having a pretty significant sale until Friday night. We've brought them up before, because they're pretty excellent guys, but today, we'd like to feature a tee that is simply the embodiment of being made with awesome: Red Means Go. It's a collab between shop mastermind Evan Ferstenfeld (whose ideas and slogans have frequently printed at Threadless) and Wenceslao Almazan,whose illustration skills really give this piece a fun atmosphere... it's hard not to be charmed by his cartoonist chops. The chaos of signs is a wonderful riot of disorder, with a brilliant shock of red in the stop sign, the obvious focus, that makes the whole scene feel more colorful for it. Of course, the whole MWA compliment of tees, from graphics to slogans, is on sale, so feel free to browse... we think the little guys deserve it, because they're the ones that rely on the support the most, and a tee this charming deserves to be spread out to the four corners of the world as long as possible. Christmas is a time of giving as well as receiving... the more small press shops we have, giving as much diverse work as possible, the healthier art in and of itself is because of it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tee-Cember: Long-Awaited Tee Update

It's been well over a year since we first saw NiNTHWHEEL's "Final Approach" at DBH, from which it sauntered over to Threadless and finally, resigned, it was plunked down at Teextile. It seemed like all was for naught until a superhero of a site swooped in and rescued these giant, majestic birds. A site like... shirt.woot?

Yes, it's a bit bittersweet to know that this amazing piece will likely not live to the new year, but it is also such a sweet vindication to see woot, of all places, pick up a piece that has tried its luck nearly everywhere and simply been edged out. Final Approach is stunningly executed and illustrated, and tells a brilliantly intriguing story... a fan in its woot thread likened it to a great sci-fi piece, given the unique fantasy world being built here... it allows us to speculate about just what sort of place this is. Regardless of the full story, though, the mix of natural beauty with a dash of cyberpunk makes this a quite attractive wear, especially in contrast with the bird shirts we'll likely be getting this weekend from the derby.

We've yet to talk up a single woot shirt that has lasted past its first reckoning, so we hiiiighly recommend snagging this now, as it's taken long enough to go up for sale. It's still available at it's first day price as I write, but if you miss it, once midnight rolls around you can grab it for $15. Just don't expect it to be around past the Monday after Christmas. That's reserved for the shirts that DON'T have any effort put in.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tee-Cember: Holiday Hot List 2009

Hark, the herald Adders sing! Glory to the newborn tees! Or at least, welcome to our yearly Christmas list for you holiday shoppers out there. As last year, we figure any site can list hot sellers, shops begging for promo time, and themed lists, so we're catering to that most underserved of markets: your friendly neighborhood Adder. These ten tees are on my personal list, and if you have a dashing, daring, XL-wearing tee fan on your list, you'd do well to check it out. Especially if it's me.

1. Wet and Windy (Shirt.woot): As last year, I felt it was worth it to put out the hunt for a long out of print Woot tee. Last year, dreams came true, and I now own an Avocado Man of my own. This year, the search is on for Wet and Windy, a piece I fell in love with far too long after its departure. I don't expect my luck to hold out, but if the spirit of the holidays prevails (and probably if people insist they believe in fairies) perhaps a Christmas miracle will get one in my hands in 2010.

2. Between the Eyes (Threadless): The greatest thing about Threadless sales is Selects at incredible prices, but that means that eventually, there's so much great stuff in your cart that something doesn't make the cut. This tee is one of them, languishing behind despite it's big, bold graphic, quirky yet classic concept, and smart use of CMYK (allowing the colors to pop instead of hit you over the head with a weak print joke).

3. Caution (Red) (Supermandolini, shown left): Besides the obvious things drawing me to this shirt (seriously, I feel like I cannot get more self-parodic sometimes), I am in love with the flow of the illustration making its home on this tee, and more so with the smart placement, allowing for a strong double-take when you see what's just over the shoulder. Part of it's also the subject matter... sometimes we need a shirt that truly shows off who we are. Total class, and a tee I've desired for a while.

4. Digfoot (Enclothe): A big and bizarre print with an epic "fun" quotient. I love the character highlighted here, with his loosely drawn body (the way only half the lines ever seem to connect is very appealing when you notice it) and his funhouse-mirror predicament. This is the sort of thing a great one-color tee should be made of... the ink is visible and tasteful against the tee, and the graphic is unique enough that more color is hardly needed.

5. Time (302 Designs): Something about this piece has stuck with me ever since I first saw it (sold out and more expensive). The pose of the graphic seems to be on the defense, blocking an implicit vulnerability. The colors pop on the tee itself. The graphic feels classic and weathered, as the image should portray. I even love the brief text incorporated into the piece: "Time, may I be provided the strength to one day understand you." It's just wise enough to not be cliché, and it makes the piece feel almost personal.

6. Vulpes (Design by Humans, shown right): This graphic simply lures me in... its colors are murky as midnight, and the graphic itself is hypnotic... the fox featured here is not only mutated to start with, with it's multiple legs and tails (the creature is more of a Rorshack test than a true animal), but the base in the back of the same graphic, 180'd and painted in purple, helps make the whole piece truly hypnotising. Creative, unique, and a must-have.

7. The Coral Castles Tee (Paper Root Clothing): We just brought Paper Root into the blog last week, but this is the tee that made me fall in love. It's nothing too complex, just coral textures on a particularly sweet looking heather gray blank, with some geometric elements. It's very hipster, and hits on many chords of what's popular right now, but it's hard to deny how GOOD the whole thing comes out looking. Of the pieces we're featuring here, this is probably the one I'm most apt to grab after the holidays.

8. Ostrich Egg (HaHa Press): There's something about bird skeletons, or really all animal skeletons, that draws me in to a design, and this one is all the more irresistible not only for the life vs. death motif the feathers and egg give, but for the vibrant colors making the whole shebang eye-delicious.

9. Stop (Fullbleed): Rob Dobi of Fullbleed is probably the king of indie tee lines, given the amount of iconic designs he's put out, and the distinctive style his work has. It's a style that, to be honest, I've usually been left a bit cold by, but the more I see Stop, whether for it's great placement, smart use of minimal colors, or simply that his shadowy style is sans human silhouettes in this piece, the more I am simply drawn to it. I figure it's about time... what shirt connoisseur can truly go without a Fullbleed in their closet?

10. Octophant Polo (Resist Today, shown left): Perhaps it's time for something classier? The Octophant polo is absolutely gorgeous color-wise... the blacks and golds shine against the rich cranberry blank, the graphic itself, with trunk and tentacles writhing along, is intriguing and flows amazingly, and the placement, coming at us from around the side, is something I love to see... it helps keep things fresh. But to have all that on an AA polo shirt for the price of a regular tee? I just don't see how a boy could resist.

Of course, we do suggest that if you want a gift guide, this whole blog is technically just that. Especially check out our Contest Watch updates for choice ideas. And don't forget, sometimes it's nice to add new people to your list. Wink wink.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mini Contest Watch (Late Edition): Week of 12/3

Not only is this week another "In Miniature," but it's late. Busy Week was Busy. For starters, though, let's talk about the resubmission brigade. At SwishSwosh, jameses' charming Gentlemen are looking for support, first in votes and, if it scores well, in sales next. Over at Design by Humans, TheInfinityLoop's Nightsong is up for voting, and really deserves your love... it's a stunning piece which has been repeatedly neglected. Then there's Tilteed, which has a metric ton of good stuff in this week, but the most important of which is MJs Crabs I Have Known, which I have always had a soft spot for, and really needs a good print.

On to the new batch, starting at shirt.woot. ChrisRisse's Finchievous fits the bill for last week's derby, "Naughty and Nice," which is probably why it was so neglected. I like the subtlety of the mix of styles... the "characters" are distinct, but all the danger is subtle, almost a phantom vision. Even the limb the cat is hanging onto seems to be ephemeral. I'm enjoying how this looks, but also the deviousness implicit in having all these instruments of destruction represented as if they are air. Either the finches are hiding their true nature, or the cat is helpless enough to imagine a reason to fear even these small birds. It adds a lot to the piece's dialogue as well as being a interesting artistic choice.

Of course, most cat people will prefer their feline friends to be making out well for themselves, not about to be mauled, so perhaps a jaunt over to Threadless would be ideal. Randyotter3000 helps the blog's recent transition into VoteForCats.org with The Fish Van, which is pretty adorable even if it is yet more cattiness. I love the shape of the huge cat, snaking through the buildings following the tiny little van full of fish. Something about the scene makes the perspective take a while to set in... I can picture my own cats taking this winding route just walking across a room, but especially snaking around chair legs or whatever else is in their way, so when the buildings come into your view around the main character, and you notice the tiny vehicle the cat is in pursuit of, the concept becomes its own sort of magical ride. Also, I've noticed that I've slowly become very fond of grayscale pieces. Perhaps it is partly due to how much "sketchier" the art looks that way, giving it a more honest feel, like a sketchbook page, but whatever the reason, it makes this look really classy along with its cuter tendencies. I love pieces like this because they highlight that you can make cute work and still have it speak to your own style and talent. This is the sort of cute we need more of.

We also need more of EdgarRMcHerly's personal style of charming and endearing characters, such as we see in Old Man Winter is at it again. The jolly happy soul is up for voting just in time to sneak in as a print before spring comes 'round, and hopefully we'll get to see it happen. The design captures the sheer joy of winter. I know, it seems like an oxymoron, but when you're walking outside on a crisp but not bitter cold day, with a light coat of snow making the ground shine, and the scent of clean, cold air mingling with hints of smoke from chimneys or the leftover fall leaves being burned, there really is a decided peace that comes over one, even ignoring the holidays themselves. This big old dude is the embodiment of that, reveling in the snow, his (presumably corn-cob) pipe billowing smoke through the cool air, and presumably quite warm in his jumpsuit despite the chill. He seems to thrill in the season like a child, while the village getting the brunt of his excitement seems cozy and peaceful under their new blanket of snow. The reality can be far more brutal, as anyone up north can tell you, but it really sums up the best feelings about the season perfectly. If Threadless ever wants to rush something to print when it's most relevant, this design is a perfect candidate, and should hopefully bring the designer's brilliance back to the forefront by becoming his second print.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tee-Cember: The Obligatory Purple Shirt

With sales sales sales at the big boys, we're happy to procure a piece today from a site we've yet to chat up, yet which has a couple sure-fire buys on our list someday down the line. Welcome Paper Root Clothing, which really came out of nowhere for us, despite having long heard the name around. Suddenly, they dropped their new line, and BAM, I suddenly want their tees. Good for them. Bad for my wallet.

I know I have a definite readership that lusts after all things purple, so in their interest, I bring you The Future Past. Don't worry, readership that lusts to know my favorite blanks, your time will come too. Ironically, one thing I love here is something that kills many designs for me... the definitive framework. I think it's the curvature at the top which makes the piece wearable and not boxy, as well as all that lovely blank canvas within. The blankness of the tee really makes it more powerful... the eclipse hovers ominously, and the diamonds shooting up through the sky not only feel important for their framing by the border of the graphic, but also are more alluring for their dashing up the blank canvas. The bottom is plenty nice, too (the Egyptian theme is always good for the intrigue factor), but the real money here is above the Sphynx's head, in the gorgeous minimalism of the vast sky. The site in general is worth your checking out, but certainly this tee is as good an introduction as any.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tee-Cember: Make That Three

It's a busy Tee-Cember... busy enough for me to regret the tacky name, as I'm sure radio stations regret having to call the 10th month "Rocktober". Why, just last night, I wrote up two freaking designs, and then Tilteed goes and forces me to chat up another? Obviously people don't understand the necessity of alliteration and assonance... it's Two-for-Tuesday, not Three-for-Throosday. That just doesn't work! At LEAST wait til Thursday!

Breaking my not-that-clever stride is Contest Watch alum Deep Blue Destroyer, by Omnitarian. Normally, the charm of the designer's work is largely character based, as it is for so many quality cartoonists, but here he shows a very deft usage of color. The sharks are a bit more smirking than threatening, and their armored ships border on Seussian, but the colors are shadowy and dim, making the piece visible, yet subtle, as if we're viewing things in the murky light of the deep waters these dangerous critters would live in. It levels out the cartoony elements, wonderful in style as they are, and makes it more mature as well as properly ominous. Yet another great one from Tilteed.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tee-Cember: Two For Tuesday

We're both shocked and pleased to announce that twice in a seven day span, we've had reason to talk up RIPT Apparel, the red-headed stepchild of the daily sites. They're a site that seems to keep struggling to find itself as well as find a regular, loyal fanbase, and really, we'd love to see what they could do if that fanbase grew for them. A small site is a double-edged sword... without large customer bases, the site finds it hard to get top names. Without top names, it finds it hard to bring in a customer base.

So really, partnering with shirt.woot cult favorite EdgarRMcHerly tonight could be the best of all possible worlds... Edgar is incredibly skilled and creative, and has a large-ish following, but is not near so well known as to have RIPT be a true risk for him. He'll have his fans follow him anyway, and they'll reap the benefit. It's really a solid piece, too; "I Dig Life" is a little creepy and a little charming, a little goofy and a little powerful, a little life and a little implied death. The colors are vibrant and fluid. The style is unique. The concept is brilliant in its own odd way. There's a lot to see in here, much more than at first glance, but even if all the life in the growing tree was gone, the character spitting that life forth at the bottom is just so wonderful to look at, spectral in a death-gives-way-to-life manner, yet proper in a way that cannot be less from-the-earth if he tried. I'm really looking forward to this one. If you're loving it too, pick one up, and support an artist who truly deserves it and a site that could use your support. And hey, if you like hats, consider RIPT's holiday bundles... a tee a month for six months, and a RIPT cap. Shipping included, the bundle costs $80 (lest you think this is far too pricey for $10 shirts, consider an extra $2.50 or so per tee for shipping, leaving you with a whole stack of prepaid tees and a swank hat for an extra fiver), but for those of you who might wish to be more frugal now, you can get the same for $65 without shipping. Maybe not an ideal personal purchase, but could be an excellent gift idea. Just make sure to warn your potential giftee if you go for the cheapie bundle.

By comparison, I almost feel guilty having to make Edgar share billing with another daily, this time from TeeInvaders. TeeInvaders seems to have some solid clout in getting great designers already, and seems to be going in a quite positive direction with its relaunch and rebranding. I've been very interested following them, which is why today's curation makes me so sad. It's not really The_JCW's fault... "The Incredible Flyingcontraptionofwaste" is an excellent illustration, and one that deserves its day in the sun... or at least on a tee. It's even an old Contest Watch fave, which is why we're mentioning it here. For us, though, while the piece was bold and detailed and eye-catching and simply wonderful as a blown-up, full-tee print, it loses a lot at its new, tiny, chest-print size. But, we would like to give you, the readers, the final say. We love our contest watch designs like children, so even when they screw up, we hope things go their way. If you're still digging the design at this size (and definitely check the site for a full view), give JCW some well-deserved love. Just remember, while each site has its own turnover time, you've only got until the counter reaches zero to get these guys... after that, they're lost to the sands of time.

Tee-Cember: Crazy $9 Threadless Madness (Again)[And Sale pt. 3)

Note: since our original post, Threadless has shifted to a great bulk deal... any order over $50 has an extra percentage off (up to 20% for orders over $100), so if you've got any bulk orders that you've been waffling on, now would be a great time.

I shouldn't have to say this more than once, so here goes:


There. I'm sure you've got the point, right? So until 11AM, EST, tomorrow, Threadless will be selling all its shirts for $9. Sort of like on Black Friday, only it's, er, White Monday? At least it looks like that from my window. So whether they're trying to rake in as little profit per shirt as possible to prove that business is about quality of product, not necessarily how much money you make, or just trying to make sure all the shirts I want sell out, if you missed them last time, or need more, now is the time.

The best part about sales like this is that ALL tees are $9, even new ones, and this week (not to mention last one) there are some mega scorers printing, such as the charming Why Is An Owl Smart by ilovedoodle. It's a very tasteful graphic with an adorable character and an appealing concept (not to mention some excellent use of negative space). The whole catalog is, of course, worth perusing, but it is certainly an excellent place to start for so cheap.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tee-Cember: Salefight!

If we haven't seemed to have talked much about our old pals Shirtfight lately, it's because there hasn't been much to say. They're in a bit of a transition period, allegedly about to embark on monthly curated pieces instead of their former contest-based line, so in the interim, things have been pretty quiet. So quiet that it would be a shame to have their holiday sale fly under the radar.

The easy choice for the sale is Againstbound's A Glimpse of the End of Days, their final contest winner, and among their best tees. The artist's abstract and unique style makes his work not only some of the most original on the shirt circuit, but in some ways some of the most appealing as well... you're probably not going to get pure Againstbound style out of anyone but him. We see many of his motifs here... large geometric pieces, copious eyes and faces, chunky black graphics against plain white tees... but as with most of his work, it's still unique, and the frenetic motion and action going on makes the piece wonderful. I'm most drawn to the octopode top of this pyramid and the ouroboros backdrop, but the base area really takes the concept further... it's a bizarro take on America's Great Seal, the Eye of Providence becoming more like the eye of Cthulhu, and the pyramid below dismantling itself from the outside. It could easily be seen as symbolic for those reasons, and I always appreciate art when it can be examined deeper than superficially, but the style alone is enough for me. Seeing this as their last big contest winner makes me excited to see what will come in their future. For the present, though, it's on sale, along with the entire catalog, until December 15th, which should be time enough to get your copy for gifting. Or for wearing to your "Abstract Fashion For The Holidays" party.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tee-Cember: O Christmas Tee (pt. 2?)

If you've been looking for the perfect tee for the Christmas season, but don't want to be smacked over the head with the equivalent of your grandmother's Santa Kittens sweater, we feel today is your lucky day. Courtesy of shirt.woot, of all places, and the derby, for even more pure shock, comes the story of one true love, 78 gifts, and two weeks that changed Christmas forever. "Aww, And I Didn't Get You Anything," by friend-of-the-blog theinfinityloop, is far and away one of the most labor intensive pieces to win woot's weekly contest, and among the most on-topic as well. Every little character is worth seeing closer. Each item is hand-drawn with its own nuances. The piece is composed brilliantly, really... the colors have just enough holiday flair without pummeling you with eggnog and good cheer, and the overall piece winds up the tee creating an excellent flow, and allowing all this action to go on without being cluttered. That's some great action, too, because it takes a literal representation of the song itself and elevates it to a lovely final product, and helps what I've always found to be a very repetitive song translate into an epic holiday shirt worth far more than any geese a-laying. Geese are jerks. This tee is a Christmas miracle.

Given that it's woot, of course, we shouldn't expect a similar miracle for it's lifespan. We've yet to recommend a woot tee that hasn't died on its first reckoning, so you should really pick up your copy before December 14, not only to make sure you don't miss it, but to make sure you get it in for the holiday. It's still on "pre-sale" at $10, but if it sells out before midnight central, you can still pick it up for $15 from the links provided here. We feel you might regret it next year if you let it pass you by.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tee-Cember: Little Bot of Horrors

We've had enough to note this week that we have not until now had time to note the current Uneetee holiday sale, presumably ending Monday but possibly ending later. We'll know for sure about the final date when the week changes over, but what is certain is that for the rest of the weekend, at least, Uneetee's entire catalog is as low as $10 a tee. I'm thinking most of them will probably be a little more expensive... for example, our pick-of-the-sale, The Robotanist, is $14. Still, it's a great deal for this piece... the subtle, moody palette makes this far and away one of my favorite shirts on Uneetee, as does the wrapping motion of the killer plants. I like the old worker robot, in his rust-tones, fighting through the field of doom, presumably feeding them in lieu of Seymour. It takes the robot meme and gives it a dash of artistry while still remaining a graphic that anyone could feel comfortable sporting. If this isn't for you, of course, you might be wrong, but there's a whole catalog of sales over at Uneetee, and even if you are picking this one up, there's no harm in grabbing a second to save on shipping. Totally worth checking out.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tee-Cember: From a Remington SL3

We're happy to announce a tee-riffic deal for you lit nerd sorts: for one night only, RIPT Apparel will be selling "Uh-Oh Spaghettios," better known to you and I as "Inspired by Still Life With Woodpecker," a former contest watch highlight. Fans of Tom Robbins' book will understand the title easily, and will enjoy searching through the Still Life for all sorts of items which allude to the story on which it is based, but what I like even more about this is that the layperson who is -not- a fan of the book can still appreciate the wonderful art put into the still life itself. It's a classy tee no matter how you slice it, and throughout these 50 states and in Mexico, there's no tee that's ever been wanted like this one wants to be wanted by you.

Contest Glimpse: Week of November 26

With the holiday last week and some relatively slow contest weeks due to it, we've got only a miniature Contest Watch tonight, so we're calling it a glimpse. Three great Threadless tees that deserve your support. Beforehand, though, we have some big re-sub news. A couple heavy hitters were subbed over at Scopial for your potential voting and support. Both are by Buko: the amazing Cacophony, and his collab Grande Elusion. I have no idea why Threadless would have passed on either, let alone both, but if Scopial makes Threadless' loss their gain, that'd be quite the coup. Anyway, as buko prints so often anyway, it's not even half the disappointment that is seeing The Ominous and Ghastly Mont Noir by Againstbound up at Threadless. As one of the best of DBH's 10K finalists, and certainly the most intriguing of the 20, it's just ridiculous that pieces like the nigh-invisible "Fear the Pastels" got optioned yet there was no room to take a risk on this. It's always sad when unknown variables like potential sales get in the way of sheer quality art... if all you care about is the sales, maybe art and design was the wrong business to get involved in.

That out of the way, there were a couple pieces at Threadless that hit just the right buttons, as opposed to the resub list which jabbed at all the wrong ones (seriously, that Love shirt last week was better than Grande Elusion? But I digress again). We'll start with a-man's "Intruder," which is introduced by the artist with a solid inspiration: "Slayer of birds... I've had enough of bird designs, so there's a new trend..." Any trend can use a good slaying... even if it's continually solid, putting it to rest keeps it fresh, and overplaying it kills the quality, so this snake's mission is a positive one. As with all things snaking and snakelike, the twisting, serpentine body helps add plenty of visual interest to the piece, adding color along with its motion of coming in and out of the multitude of birdhouses. Those houses themselves are well constructed, too. The wood toning looks great, and I enjoy the extra panels nailed on to create a bit of a bird apartment look. The joined houses create a much more intriguing shape. The piece on the whole makes excellent use of space, also, filling the shirt from bottom to top with the well-meaning harbinger of doom. My only wish is that the textured backdrop shown here were part of the print, but the overall piece will still look great sported (I can especially see it framed well with an overshirt).

In the "sheer and glorious oddity department" this week is joaolauro's extensively named piece, "The Cat Who Mistook His Wife (And the Kids, and the Furniture and Even the Parrot) For a Hat." The title is a play off a classic psychology text, but the result is wonderfully fun, as the image replicates the title, and with a title like that, you can hardly expect anything but a wonderfully fun image. Surely that imagery is part of what has made the book so popular. The great thing here, however, is that while the cat's tower of haberdashery is certainly a wonder to behold, he's so great below the forehead, as well. The artist is skillful in creating a wonderful, oldtimey character and style, and Mr. Cat is stylin' in his suitcoat and gratuitous mustache. As if that's not enough, he's rocking a high-wheeler, with a Victrola horn, and as an added bonus, his high-wheeler contains a second high-wheeler for his mouse friend. It's almost like Death by Chocolate... too much of an awesome thing... but it evens out to being just enough surplus of greatness. It might be a bit too amazing for the average cat person, but the average cat person is boring.

Finally, in the "parody is great if you also consider art in the mix" department, Alexmdc gives us a master class in the artfully done pop culture piece with "Boom Box." The designer is well known for his expert craftsmanship, and you can see this all over this piece, from the details of the boombox to the shine on the bomb character. The parody aspects are brilliant for a number of reasons: the concept fits the use of the character, for one. The punchline that a bomb-man would use a boom-box is obvious, which makes this totally wearable even for those who are not gamers. Less obvious but also nice is how the 80s feel is infused throughout... an 80s character in a very 80s pose with some totally 80s shoes. It all feels linked, not just shoehorned in for the sake of a reference. Even then, the great thing about the reference is that the Bob-omb is distinctive without being boring and overdone, like Mario himself is. Picking a lesser character keeps the parody far fresher, and that's part of what a parody should be about, to some degree... if it's not fresh, is it really parody and not just copying? But even for a lesser concept, I am simply drawn to the way the black and gold elements here seem to simply shine off the aqua blank. The combo is killer and, dare I say it, explosive, and I can only hope this is not the only tee with this palette in my future.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tee-Cember: Threadless Teas (Sale pt. 2)

For reasons I cannot even pretend to understand, Threadless is spacing their new releases out this week. Six came Monday, and six more (three new, three reprints) came today. Our sources state that there are still more new and reprinted tees to come, but the best of them came this round, with gumbolimbo's "Stop! Tea Time!" These proper English gentlemen charm through this fun graphic oddity, which for me cannot be unlinked from "Stop! Hammertime!" And really, that makes for a shirt you can't touch in and of itself. The style of the characters and the always fun mint blank, however, help step it up to being 2 legit 2 quit.

Threadless, of course, is in the midst of their holiday sale, and this week they've upped the ante. Not only are all tees $12, but they're offering free shipping on all orders over $50. They're promising new perks every week, but with stocks dwindling after Friday's huge discounts, we cannot do better than advise you repeatedly: buy in stages. You don't want to miss out on some super savings, but you also don't want to miss out on the tees you want.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tee-Cember: It Begins!

OK. Let's get this out of the way right nownownownownow, so you can buy it. Christmas is now 24 days away. Now is as good a time as any to get gifts if you want them to get to their destination on time. So I figure, why not talk up the most likely tee to be a hot, unique gift piece early?

I'll never understand the power of memes, but I can appreciate that now and then, someone can take something tired and turn it on its head. So it is surprising to me that I have not seen today's tee concept, courtesy of Demighty, anywhere else, because it seems like the pinnacle of zombie parody. The graphic is the sort of crisp character piece that has always been classic for a tee, and while the idea of other sorts of zombies making their demands is not new (the vegan zombie demanding Grains, for example), taking it with a 100% reversal of roles made me honestly laugh in a way zombie jokes simply do not do. Your favorite zombie obsessed meme-nerd probably will get 14 copies of the Zombie Survival Guide, and likely already owns the Evil Dead movies. What they probably DON'T have is a good or original t-shirt (I've seen where they shop. It's probably true!) so while it won't stop your best buddy from his continual ranting about the zombie uprising which will never happen because we live in the real world, picking up Zombies will certainly up anyone on your list's fashion quotient (I especially like how it looks on the blue, shown), while still making them positively re-animated when they open their gift. You don't really want to see them pull out the ol' "This is not the shirt you are looking for" tee again, do you?