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Thursday, November 26, 2009

None More Black (A Roundup)

We've been talking a lot about Black Friday Sales (and really, so has everyone... your favorite tee shop probably has something going on right now, so don't be afraid to check). Now that the day is here, we have some things we'd like to discuss with you.

Firstly, Threadless is, as we speak, in the throes of a one-day-only $9 blowout. If you've read this blog at all, you should know how awesome this is. Threadless is pretty much the gold standard for tee site awesomeness, so if you can't find something worth $9 to you, you got there too late and it's sold out. It's the sort of deal that makes one want to link every word in the blog so you can't possibly miss it. Seriously, check it out. You'll be glad you did... their last $9 sale decimated stock across the board.

As for other sales? Pretty much any blog out there will have some to talk about, and we highly recommend you check around, but we've got some we think are worthy of chatting up, too, from some places we'll almost certainly talk up elsewhere this season:

~The Good: Goodjoe, the most positive shirt contest on the web, is promising deals as low as $7 on their tees for one day only, starting at Midnight Pacific (3am Eastern). I would expect and fear seeing my own piece in that bargain bin, but if you like positive messages and feel-good apparel, all price points will be browse-worthy.

~The Bad: BadAsHell Clothing, one of our favorite Tinytowne-sized indie shops, has been holding a sale since last night. We're presuming it's gone when Friday ends, but it doesn't hurt to check later, especially if it means picking up a rockin' classic looking tee like Our Women are Bad.

~The Awesome: Made With Awesome, the awesomest collaboration-based line out there, is offering 15% off everything for, again, one day only. Coupon code BLACKFRIDAY is the somewhat obvious key to the sale, which is thankfully much easier than finding the key to your unicorn.

Contest Watch: Week of November 19

We at SingulariTee hope three things today. First, we hope that you don't mind the severe pretension of the Royal "We". Second, we hope you all had a wonderful and filling Thanksgiving (or if you're not American, a wonderful and filling Late November Dinner Of Your Choice). And of course third, we hope these wonderful shirts are brought to life somewhere down the line. Before we get to that, though, I'm sure TOSOMB would be thankful if you'd go score his resub of an old Contest Watch piece, Two Novels Collide. Aside from that, enjoy the new crop.

Shirt.woot's latest derby bandage is an expanded fog, which so far hasn't proven to be very worthwhile at all, being that their biggest problems are lack of quality control, rampant vote-fraud, and inconsistency, all of which are simply hidden more and longer in the new system. Of course, it helps less to know that, even with nine blocks in the fog, the best stuff seems destined to never find favor. Take La Corvid Nostra, by Taninniver. While not perfect (some of the roughness around the "spotlight" area just seems off to me), the meat of the matter here is really attractive. The gray-scale illustration really takes the "family" theme seriously, with the idea of both a family (all the birds being of the same biological one) and the idea of "the family" in Mafia terms. These are some brutal birds, and portraying them as mobsters makes this quite smart outside of thematic elements as well as a smart way to portray the theme. I like the noir style on the birds themselves especially, characterizing them perfectly... it's a Rookery destined for Murder. Bird humor, there. I think this has a lot of potential elsewhere... obviously woot only likes the large black birds when they're awfully done.

Another rougher piece comes from Threadless, which you should DEFINITELY check out starting at Midnight Central (more on that and other Black Friday specials around that time tonight). The first of the pieces from there this week is The Rabbits, by shuyi. There's something loveable about a smart one-color print... something classic and crisp and always in style. This is a perfectly lovely illustration, too, even if it has the sort of imperfection I love in a piece... the feeling that it was quite truly made to reflect one's own drawing style, not to be a flawless vector. This piece truly benefits from that, because it makes the stunning optical illusion all the more impressive. It's a mind trip for sure, but the execution is just too perfect, with the contours of the rabbits melding into the animals themselves. It works so well that it is easy to have your eyes fooled at first that the creatures are fully formed, and then on next glance the jumble takes over. It's a smart piece, and would be a definite conversation starter, if you happen to like smart conversations. Or, potentially, confused ones. Either way, this looks like it'd make a great tee. We can only hope Threadless agrees.

Much more in the Threadless vein is Chengui's "Water Louvre." The concept is a little blurred... is the shark visiting a human museum to marvel at the wondrous art inspired by his sea home, or is this an underwater collection of the greatest oceanic art known to man and fish? The man in the background certainly suggests the former (as does the sharks air tank, and really, the fact that the paintings aren't soggy), but I like that the palette allows the other option to infiltrate and boost the dreamlike nature of the piece. Having both concepts evoked makes this feel all the stronger, to me, though simply having the shark, the lone color in the scene, come so far to gaze upon Poseidon is a pretty wearable payoff to me. It's attractive and creative, and it speaks to the lengths people will go to to experience true, passionate art. Which for me, is always a nice thing to remember.

Of course, it can't all be classy, intellectual concepts... Raid71 proves that the opposite isn't so bad, though, in his A Walrus is a Vampire Seal. Many of you probably already know I'm biased for this with the black-on-red scheme. SingulariTee Bingo Players, mark your card... Drinking Gamers, take a shot. Hell, maybe take a second for that catch-all category of "absurd humor." With all the current vampire hype, it's nice to see them taken down a peg in this, whether intentional or not. One cannot take this walrus seriously in his cape, with that super-dour expression on his face. The skulls beneath him, and bats by the side, make this even harder to not laugh at, as overwrought as the imagery is. This is the pinniped that seriously does not get that he looks ridiculous. He's the goth kid at Sea Mammal University, and his morose and macabre getup and demeanor are simply not as mysterious or threatening as he thinks. Which says a lot for a 2000 pound critter if it still can't manage threatening. The whole situation simply smacks of ridiculous, and it makes me incredibly happy to see things this bizarre, especially since it is indeed rooted in real-life imagery. I heartily laughed at the concept, I love the one-color design, and I like that there's nothing out there like this. Go Team Walrus!

Finally, back to woot, for more proof that a big fog just makes for more disappointment: there's really not much excuse at all to see Walmazan's "There's Nothing Like Family" anywhere BUT in the top 9, yet here it is (I generally eschew selections from the fog, as that seems like an unfair print advantage, but with the new system this may fall by the wayside eventually). Anyway, back to the piece, and all it has going for it. It's ostensibly cute, as the designer's style tends to be (and as always, the "cute" voters left this in the dust... go figure). The colors feel retro, and look gorgeous together. But the thing that slams this out of the park is just how SAD it is. It's beautifully so, because it takes the viewer time to really get it. At first glance, it's all about the funny, and how couldn't it be with the characterization of each of the octo's imaginary friends (especially the Groucho glasses)? We see the protagonist just smiling away at her meal, and give it no thought. And then it hits us how lonely she must be, and it becomes an aching portrait of that. There's so much hidden pathos that elevates this from simply being a cute, cartoony joke shirt. Not that it is bad as that... not at all. Just that it's one of those perfect storm designs that should have blazed the charts. We tend to find a lot of those at Contest Watch. We can only hope that someone else out there will see the same. And also own a shirt site to do something about it. More sites with integrity of quality? That would be something to be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Yet More Sales: DBH Edition

Obviously in order to keep me on my toes in prep for the busy blogging month I have ahead of me, the big guns have arranged for one sale to be announced per day. Today's announcement: Design By Humans, who are probably among the best sites to peruse on a sale, and who will be having their sale until Monday. It's not that they have the best sales, so much as they seem to have some of the rarest, and the quality tees to be had make it an event to mark on the calendar. And it doesn't hurt that you can save an extra 10% even on the sale prices with discount code 7BX737.

For me, DBH's "Perfect Tees" are my second favorite blank, so anything that's been printed or reprinted in 2009 is almost guaranteed to be awesome. I'm sure I've said that before, and I'm sure you guys have taken me up on the recommendation now and then, so conveniently DBH procured a print right before this sale that you probably HAVEN'T snagged yet: saltyshadow's Dark Side of the Firework. I see it more of a rainbow getting sucked into a black hole than really being fireworks, but that's pretty much why I like the design. The black is smoky and spacey, which gives it a lot of body and has a great flow, while the colors, while streaked along in a watercolor presentation, is bright, yet has that gauzy feel that rainbows can have in the light. I don't know if I can explain that better, so hopefully we're on the same page. Got it? Good. Anyway, I love me some white-on-black contrast, but it's doubly awesome with this much bold color in the mix, breaking through the dark cloud and fading out into the light tee. Just in time to brighten up a dreary winter, and just in time to get on sale. Can't go wrong with that!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tilteed: The Holiday Sale

$12 is a magic number this week: not only is it Threadless' price point du jour for their holiday sale, but this week, Tilteed is getting in on the $12 action with a sale of their own... from now til December (or basically, until they pick a new weekly tee), everything in their catalog is $12. Personally, I think it's a great deal from what is easily the best new site I've come across this year. While this week's new one is from the ever-reliable RecycledWax, I'd say the real deals this week are in the highly browseable back catalog. We've written up a number of their pieces, but if you're looking for yet another suggestion, how about early print "So Hot Yet So Cold" by TangYauHoong? I've got this one and quite love it... it's got some serious style and powerful imagery. But really, I digress... just browse the catalog. You'll find something.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Prelude to Tee-Cember: Threadless Holiday Sale pt. 1

Like sands through the hourglass, so too are the days of our tees, and once again we're fast approaching the holiday season. We're planning another Tee-cember celebration this year, with daily posts on some of the places we don't get to touch on as often, the latest and greatest sales and print updates, and of course, our insanely awesome (don't laugh, they are) weekly updates. We hope you will not miss it, because we hate wasting our breath if you're gonna be ingrates about it.

First off, though, Threadless has sneaked in with their annual holiday sale a week early. Like last year, there seems to be a theme of increasing and changing bargains, so as always with their sales, we at SingulariTee suggest getting the essentials now, and checking back weekly, to get the best combination of deals without having your favorites sell out on you. The starting deal is certainly solid enough: $12 tees. Everything in the catalog, that is, so we're talking half-price selects especially. Personally, I wish the first sale roll-out was stronger, but it came with a personal present: polynothing's Attack of Literacy, reprinted and ready to buy. This is majorly on my list, so I'm excited to get a chance. It's the pulp feel, largely... it takes the zombie apocalypse feel and makes it, er, literate. Half the fun is mulling over who is participating in this attack... Shakespeare and Poe are well represented right up front, but I've been slowly mulling over the other antagonists since I saw it print originally. We like to think that if you're a frequent reader, you probably also are the ideal audience for a shirt about literacy, or know someone for whom this would be a perfect gift. We like to think lots of crazy things over here. Definitely the pick of the week here, though, both for my own chest and for your future gift giving.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

FM365: Week the Second

If you were to ask me (and technically, you did, by coming to the blog) I would say that this second week of the Flying Mouse 365 project is better than the first. The pieces seem to be far smarter, and even the (in my eyes) questionable Pac Man piece intrigues me simply for the bold use of the full shirt (and makes me wonder what the finished piece will look like). But in fairness, if last week we gave you pigs, we should follow up with cows. Milking Out is certainly a sweet tee to focus on anyway... again, we have the glorious "things are not what they appear" juxtaposition that is such a Flying Mouse hallmark... a simple scene with a clean illustration, but a strong, creative payoff. The cow is little more than a milk-tank in this image, the white of its pelt decreasing as the milk is drawn from it. I think the outline of the cow would be far more noticeable on the green it was originally presented on when I first saw it at Threadless, but the dark grey certainly lets the white of the cow and the milk-draining concept pop. A worthy selection in a week that could easily lead to a volume discount.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Boiling it Down

As Shirt.woot continues its inevitable slide into obsolescence with a derby that has no discernible standards or rules, we here at SingulariTee continue to wish for a mighty turn-around. As horrible as the derbies are, and as wishy-washy as the staff seems to be about making meaningful change at the expense of their broken system, they do occasionally prove where they stand, even if they won't say it. Printing Spaghetti during their recent spate of Editor's Choice picks is proof of this, to us. A shirt that twice was unable to garner very significant votes, on a hard-sell color, put up for purchase. It almost screams everything I see as so vital for woot to embrace. It has real charm and style, as opposed to the hacky facsimiles that usually get that praise. The colors are rich and perfect. The flow is inviting and enjoyable. The overall content is unique. It's a shirt I cannot stop praising, because it's a shirt deserving of non-stop praise for simply doing everything right. That it was chosen by the site itself is telling of what the site itself values, and in lieu of any change actually being taken by them (or less likely, by the voters), all we can do is support great work from solid designers. Like all woot-based posts here, I don't overly expect this piece to last longer than it's guaranteed week, but give this the love it deserves anyway. Prints like this simply don't happen often enough.

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.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

And Your Bird Can Sing

The other day, blogger was being a temperamental little jerk, so I was unable to tell y'all of the wonderful event which occurred at Tilteed. Namely, Song Bird by Lunchboxbrain, a contest watch favorite, is now available for purchase. It's an exceptional collage-style piece... all the elements flow masterfully in both layout and style, and the color choices are earthy and perfect for the olive blank. When I see it, it also gives a certain Imaginary Foundation feel, for a far discounted price from some of their work. Overall, though, an excellent piece for anyone into music. Grab it now while it's $12!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Gotta Catch 'Em All

Excitement comes from the other side of the pond this week, from German site A Better Tomorrow. ABT has some great tees, and were I able to read German, or afford Euros, you would be seeing lots of their stuff up here. As it is, I tend to only mosey over there when I see a tee that is worth the extra effort.

Today, they bring us a tee that is certainly that tee: a contest watch favorite from a while back, Againstbound's "Kleptonaut." I don't know if there can be a negative to this shirt: the palette drew me in before I realized my biases toward it. The concept is both spacy and humorous... what I like most about the joke is that each jar of space has its own punchline, from videogame ephemera to oddities you would not expect to see in space (from goldfish to that lost sock of yours). This guy has even captured infinity. It's like the Pokemon of the universe. Except good. Still, his collection is subtle enough and individual enough that each joke is easily integrated into a whole which is far more about skillful and charming cartooning and the imaginative aspects of the vastness of space than reliant on punchlines. That's a big part of what makes this so successful as a shirt, and a big part of why it's going on ye olde holiday list for me this year. Consider treating yourself and hit up Babelfish. It'll be worth it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

FM365: Week the First

This week heralded one of the most exciting happenings in the tee world. No, not a pact to end the proliferation of Live-Traced Photos As Art, but almost as great... the opening of one of the most ambitious single-artist shops out there: Flying Mouse 365.

To me, there is one thing that should come tantamount to all things when designing: a sense of drive, determination, and respect for your artistry. You should be creating because you love creating. You should be pushing yourself because art is in your blood. So early in the year, when I first saw Flying Mouse announce his intentions to create a new design every day for a full year, I was duly impressed. It was a project clearly born of a creative mind that needed to push itself, and as time went on, and I saw the execution and conceptual quality put into the majority of pieces, I saw that this was a project that wasn't going to be skimped on. It was nice to see that kind of work ethic for any reason in a market that often seems to be all about doing just enough simple, generic work to rake in a payday.

Anyway, some of the FM365 pieces have been optioned throughout the web, as well they should have been, and as the year ends, the man behind the art is putting his money where his mouth is and taking the risk of creating his own site. It's a big leap, and that he's willing to put that sort of money and time upfront for the sake of his art is just one more proof of the dedication in his work. I'm not about to say it's all amazing work, but there's some incredibly diverse stuff that should find favor with pretty much any sort of shirt-wearer, and a lot of it is definitely top-notch.

I've decided to take the opportunity to support one of the best out there in this ballsy, huge-scale project by dedicating a post every weekend to his current lineup. This week, I'm featuring Piggy Bank, selected partially for my sister, and also for being on the ballsiest colour out there: pink. Believe me, I've got a pink AA tee, and it is CERTAINLY a ballsy tee to wear, and perfect for such a bold storefront. The piece does hit on one of Flying Mouse's favorite themes... taking simple things and making them not what they seem. I really like the style on the little pigs here, as they emerge from their bank prison, as well as the conceptual layers... a piggy bank, a bank that stores pigs, and even an element of birthing going on, as the real pigs come from their porcelain hold. If you know a pig lover, it'd make a great holiday gift. Actually, given the diversity of these prints, you could probably knock something off the list for any shirt lover you may know by December.

Each week, FM is going to be releasing 7 tees (and from the looks of it, potential hoodies, as well) for the extent of the week, and while it seems like reprints are indeed possible down the road, you're probably gonna want to grab what you want when you see it. There are discounts if you're planning to buy a few tees, also, which is excellent for a project like this (especially if you know some people who might want to go in with you on an order). Just be sure to keep an eye on that countdown clock... there are going to be some awesome tees printing here, and it would be a shame to miss out. There's always going to be more on the site itself, but we'll be sure to steer you to the best of the bunch.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Contest Watch Plus: Week of November 5

We'll get right into it this week, a week that is quite Threadless heavy due to that all-important "plus" in our title. A week that starts with the bizarre and doesn't quit. Take The Watchers in Technicolor, for example. This DontCallMeBlanket joint is simple in both linework and placement, but it's full of arresting characters and a brilliant color scheme that would make me purchase it in half a heartbeat. I love how the characters are framed by the external, octopodian vampire-thing, which lends a gorgeous border, but those creatures are no less full of charm individually. It's all about being a brilliant graphic tee, with no further pretense or purpose, and it succeeds immensely on that front.

"Watchers" is wonderful for the way its craziness solidifies into a definite charm and a solid, tasteful graphic. On the other hand, though, there's sweet n sour's Pandatankhorse, which totally eschews any sort of solidification or tastefulness and instead revels in pure, unadulterated ridiculousness. It's a pick that I hardly feel needs justifying, because it's a pick I've made purely due to how intensely weird the entire thing is. It's brilliance is in that absurdity, starting with the title, which speaks exactly to what the tee's subject is, a zany mutated mess of ridiculousness. The colors perpetuate the mood, with the pinks and greens straddling a hazy, almost sickly feeling that makes the entire piece feel like a hallucination. The style rounds it out... the panda element is blissfully out of its gourd, the tank is pink and friendly and also has eyes for some reason, and the horse, tattooed, hardcore, yet still with a shred of my little pony, seems to have a mouth in its chest. I'm not sure what part of that isn't pure win, even if every part of it is pure odd.

As a music fan, I'm really loving Walmazan's "Seeing Music Everywhere." It takes a pretty simple punny concept and elevates it quite a bit. It's nothing new, not even to Threadless, for a shirt to exist representing musical genres in a cartoony, literal way, but it is the style here that makes this so great... the designer's trademark work truly brings the characters he creates here to life. Some of them ooze charm, like the little Soul ghost... others are wonderful for the dramatic contrast between the genre itself, like the happy gift praising Rap music, or the baby bottle resting by New Age. All of them, however, are brought to life in a stellar color palette that makes this utterly wearable and a must for any audiophile.

Finally from the wild wild world of Threadless, we have a vision in purple. I'm not going to lie, that gorgeous purple in the mock is a big part of my choice of biotwist's "...well I'm just as confused as you are,"but conceptually, it is a powerhouse as well. For starters, the placement is perfect, setting it apart immediately. The diagonal flow is unique, as is the dual edge print, allowing one character to come from the top and one from the bottom, emerging from off-canvas. The juxtaposition of the characters is great, too... the diver and the spaceman have similar getups, but couldn't be more wrong for each other's setting. As the diver plunges down, the astronaut floats ever upward, and both meet in some undefined void. You can get that feeling that neither character is quite sure what is going on, but the meeting is as enjoyable for us as it is baffling for them. The design echoes between the two really help tie the piece together, from the bulky suits and heavy helmets right down to the lengthy, snaking air-tubes (and you guys know how I feel about pretty much anything snaking and the visual interest it lends). I'd be seriously surprised if Threadless didn't give this one a nod.

Finally, we abandon Threadless in favor of Tilteed for our endpoint. Omnitarian's Deep Blue Destroyer is the subject of our study there. Much as we started, this piece is strongest on palette. It's just brilliantly moody, with colors that evoke shadows even despite the decided "lightness" of some of them. The sharks here are almost invisible for it, which really helps the concept of them hiding within the huge, bomb-like shelters. Also strong is the designer's distinct cartoon style, which imbues his work with so much personality. It's a common theme this week, and an important thing to seek out when looking for deserving work. This is certainly deserving.




Of course, a Contest Watch Plus means Double Plus Awesome. Or at least it means a shirt.woot Doubletake Derby has just ended. While the actual winners are probably meaningless to you unless you REALLY like fake national parks, we here at Singularitee have made it a habit to postulate just what woot will print as editor's choices now that the apparently totally A-OK fake accounts and nitwits have gotten it wrong again. As always, I work on a complex scale that combines what I believe SHOULD print with what I believe they WILL print, and seeks out the finest four. And what a four they are! Tgentry and EdgarRMcHerly's "Here, Friend" is one of the sweetest little tees I ever did see, and a print here would appease loyal fans of two of woot's most creative minds. Yeohgh's "Two, Be Friends" is not only a rare appearance from a Threadless great, but a rare instance where a shirt on woot is legitimately cute instead of being trashy and mediocre and trying to hold the same title. Cashland's "Spaghetti" is simply one of my favorite derby pieces in a long time, and I can only hope I can be so lucky as to own it. And Omnitarian rounds this round out as well with "It's A Cactus With A Fez," self explanatory goofiness from a designer who is undeniably woot's most deserving unprinted one.

We're not expecting to be right (though this lineup would get a $20 out of us), and there are many past CW entries in the running as well that we're hoping for good things from, but these are the horses we're predicting nevertheless. As always, barring another total crapshoot of prints such as last November's ECs (NO MORE SNOWMAN!), we'll be bringing you the report next weekend. If you're hoping to catch 'em at $10, you may wish to be browsing the site M-Th.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Deluge! Boat! Help!

It's always exciting to see Design By Humans come through in the clutch for a contest watch piece. Their schedule allows a turnaround time far longer than most other sites, so when they make a selection we at the blog get all atwitter about, it's usually with the added bonus of total surprise. It's the Christmas effect... it's great to know something awesome is coming up, but when it comes out of nowhere, it can be so much better.

This time around, DBH gives us The Lost Gondolier, by Timizy01. It's an all-over piece that works so well due to that full-print aspect. The waves which cover the shirt do so subtly enough to be simply a backdrop, but swirl and spume up in a quite lovely manner around the gondolier focal point, making them quite worth the notice. The gondolier himself breaks out against all this froth in bold, chunky black lines and fills, helping cement his place alone among a vast world of waves. My only gripe on this is, sadly, one I've had on a number of recent DBH prints of this size... the screen seems to have been made way too large, taking away some of the better aspects of the print. Here, it takes away the prior effect of the moon parting the top of the waters as in the original submission, which I felt added a great void to the piece. Still, the overall product looks great, and will most definitely be a temptation during any sales which may happen over the holiday.

For those of you who want to secure your copy now, and wish DBH was still offering their prior first-day discounts (believe me, you're not alone), try code TNQCQK for 10% off anything in the store 'til Nov. 15.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Apples to Apples

Among the newer sites we're keeping tabs on here is SwishSwosh, from the UK. It has quite the unique contest scheme, which is part of why we're so intrigued... Every cycle (currently it seems monthly, but who knows what will happen as time goes on), the top 10 voted tees go up for pre-sale. These tees fight it out for a grand prize, which will eventually go to the tee which has had the most pre-sale purchases. All ten print, all ten get rewarded, but the most purchased gets the biggest reward.

What intrigues me most about this is that it is such a hybrid. There seems to be an element of your classic, quality-driven site, where ten pieces are selected each week, but there's also an element of the popularity driven contest, with each purchase pushing a piece closer to winning the grand prize. It could be a "best of both worlds" scenario for both artists and the site if implemented correctly, which makes it a site that is firmly on my radar.

Another perk to the site? This cycle, Contest Watch favorite Original Sin (by RecycledWax) is up for that grand prize. That means the shirt IS technically in print... you can buy it and will receive it when it goes to print, unlike a site like Cameesa where you'd possibly need to wait months upon months. Purchasing now, of course, is to your benefit... SwishSwosh is limited edition, for starters, and being a UK shop, saving a couple pounds is highly to a foreigner's benefit (prices are decidedly steep on this side of the pond, especially considering shipping). The biggest reason to snag one now, though, is to help RecycledWax win the well-deserved grand prize for most sold. I am sure he'll thank you if you can swing the expense.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Better Late Than Never

I find myself forgetting about some sites more than others, regardless of my initial excitement, and one such casualty is Ink-Hound. It's a site I haven't even ordered from, despite a few tees I quite wanted early on. So it brings me great joy to be able to speak of them again today.

Their current shirt (available for about another week) is Ghost Ship. It's a little late for prime appreciation, Halloween being a week gone by now, but the style here is something that could easily be a year-round wear. The color scheme is one that I'm ever in love with... the softness of the ink palette looks quite nice against the bold red. The characters are what make it, though. There's a cartoony cuteness that is very appealing, and even with nothing but dead skulls, each crew member has their own personality: the stoic captain, looking dead ahead unflinchingly... the weathered first mate, face drooping as he is long weathered and weary from a life at sea... and my favorite, the bumbling crewman at the back, his big empty skull bobbling aimlessly in the sea air. Personally, that's all fun enough to justify the purchase, wouldn't you say?

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.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pinkyderm

Just a quickie note to state that today is the day of our choice of Teextile print of the week. Word 2 tha' Herd by biotwist is a fun and bold piece, swarming with elephants covering every last inch of the front, with a single pink specimen over the heart, standing apart from the tight-packed herd while being no less part of it. The pink on the silver actually is a rather nice color contrast, especially with the thick outlines, and while the particulars aren't groundbreaking, the boldness of the execution is nevertheless something quite special. My only qualm is not knowing if this will wrap around or simply stop past the front. Given a warning on another tee this week, I fear it may do the latter, which diminishes it a bit, yet not so much as to make it any less worth the wear.

It's been on sale since Monday, and will be for the rest of the week, but today is the day to grab a copy for $12 and save a little on a tee which certainly is worth far more.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Travelling Without Moving

Today, for one day only, Threadless is slashing shipping. And by slashing, I mean there is none. For anyone. So if you happen to be in England, or Mexico, or New Zealand, or Mars (presuming they ship to Mars), your shipping is just as free as ours here in the states. It's from now til Tuesday, 11am Eastern (that's like 3p GMT, for the rest of y'all to base off of), so now's a great time to make those small orders that you might otherwise have put off for too much shipping.

Since it's all about Travel at Threadless today, how about checking out last week's brilliant "Void" while you're there? This band-it piece is simply brilliant in execution and concept, and truly makes for a striking double-sided piece. The stark black-on-white color scheme really reflects the infinite nature of space, as well as its mysteries, and the nice big print shines in such a simple palette. It's an iconic image of seeking out the unknown, made doubly wonderful with the back-print that conveys the infinite, magical nature of space by portraying the void as so easy to traverse. Definitely a great buy, and an appropriate one for today's promo.