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.