Thursday, January 28, 2010

Contest Watch: Week of January 21

Hello, boys and girls.

Besides working for Tilteed these days (see the last post, not to mention tomorrow's, for more), I'm still busy bringing the best of the contest world to light for your voting pleasure. But before we get to this, let us be sure to remind y'all to head on over and vote for Salt and Pepper by Radscoolian over at Threadless. It got totally robbed over at woot in a particularly ludicrous voting week, and deserves its day in the sun.

While we're on Ludicrous Robbery At Shirt.Woot, welcome to Palindrome Week. It's hard to secure a real design based on a palindrome, yet many entries managed to pull off something appealing even with the forced inspirational constraints, and inevitably get robbed by work that is questionable even from a woot perspective. Enter Taco Cat, which ended right outside the fog. By friend-of-the-blog Omnitarian, it's a great absurd character in the first place, which is the sort of work which really makes the most sense to go with if you're working in the constraints of palindrome. It's also the sort of character work that you need to do if you're thinking in terms of t-shirts. Something striking, charming, appealing and interesting (I mean, what about a taco isn't appealing, right?) and this is all four, no question. I'm not sure if I'd rather own or feast upon the character itself, but as a shirt, it'd be everything a simple graphic tee should be.

But really, what would life be if we only went for the simple graphic tees, right? As appealing as a charming, simple, well conceptualized character can be, we should never forget the tee's ability to act as artistic canvas. Threadless pulls this off regularly, in submissions such as Nature's Embrace. This piece, by thechild, channels any number of brilliant designers while creating a final product that nevertheless avoids aping any of them. The designer plays all the right cards in just the right amounts. The colors are warm, yet soft (the palette really is wonderful as far as I'm concerned), with repeating motifs that don't feel repetitive. The detail is charming and attractive, yet not so heavy as to distract. There's abstraction here, but it is not truly challenging, just a pleasant designing "noise" about the piece's natural imagery. Then there's the style: again, it's right on balance, with clear skill showing through amid a simple execution. The term "wearable" comes to mind, and I cannot see how this piece could be seen as anything but. It's a graphic that goes beyond the tired status quo, but remains very accessible, with colors that are smart and flow that intrigues without confusing. Definitely worthy as a future tee.

Taking the concept a bit further is againstbound's Leader of the Pack. This was originally at Threadless as a style-swap piece with B7, but is now being tried over at Design By Humans. It's no secret we at Singularitee love againstbound's style, but I've especially enjoyed seeing him in Threadless alumni contests like this. Actually, Styleswaps have done pretty well for themselves in this blog in general. But especially for againstbound, there always seems to be more of his own style coming forth in any given piece than other swappers might allow, so we get a final product that feels more like a brilliant one-man collaboration. Oh, yeah, and the piece itself is worth talking about on its own, too. The colors are killer, for starters... color usage is absolutely HUGE on this piece's appeal, especially if it finds itself on that deep purple. The flow, as well, is great... I love the downward "S"-curve the eye takes. The overall piece is hip, bold, but even potentially powerful. There's some non-denominational spirituality going on somewhere in here, intentional or not, with that wise wolf staring out at us, up in the clouds, and it makes the image arresting. Great piece.

Another arresting and powerful image comes from one of igo2cairo's latest pieces: "I Know You Called..." While the againstbound piece takes the unknown and draws you into the mystery of what it all means, here we're quite familiar with the base of the design. It's a telephone, and an old one at that... nothing special on the surface. The texturing done here, however, is what is so alluring. We have no idea if the phone is melting, or leaking, or covered in goop. I probably don't want to answer it, that's certain, yet if it rang, it might almost be irresistible to find out what was on the other end. This is the sort of design that keeps us thinking, because we really cannot be sure what the meaning is. Is the phone represented as oppressive, with it's sooty, oozing covering driving us away from it? Is it rotting away in its obsolescence? Surely a rotary phone is something young people will start marveling at as a relic. Whatever the case, I know two things: good art makes you think and discuss, and good shirts need to be wearable. This passes muster on the first for me easily... this image could easily spur on an intellectual dialogue, given its puzzling nature and the depth of its possible translations. As for a shirt? By itself, a phone is perhaps not ideal as a tee graphic, but the intrigue here helps a lot. The phone itself is well composed, the textures are hypnotizing, and the grayscale of the palette makes it an easy wear as well. I'd put it on my chest, at least. Hopefully I'm not alone.

Finally, we palindrome right back to shirt.woot, where theinfinityloop gives us the saddest little gravity-defying dog ever. "I'm, Alas, a Salami" takes a different angle of approaching the palindrome concept, but knocks it out of the park on execution. The first and best thing here is that the design hinges less on the palindrome itself, and more on how to illustrate it, which makes it stand on its own. It's no secret that dachshunds look like deli meat, and having the poor little guy standing there, tied like a sausage and sliced in the middle (with that perfect salami marbling inside) is a concept that stands up to the test of wear... you have no title when you're rocking a tee, and this will still convey it's ideas perfectly. But easily the best part of this is the dog's face... the emotion conveyed is perfect, and sums up the "alas" in the title to a "T". There's really no reason a piece like this should be in my contest watch and not on a shirt. More power to the site that mans up and prints it.

1 comment:

Omnitarian said...

Thanks for the writeup as always. I noticed that piece by the.child because it's part of his make something cool everyday project. The stuff is a bit unpolished (what can you expect from such demanding productivity) but there's a lot of fresh and funky ideas in there. Definitely worth checking out if you haven't already: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9120080@N02/