Thursday, April 29, 2010

Space is the Place

Ideally, Contest Watch will be back in the ring next week. We (in the royal sense) have been pretty out of it with the reliability of late. Lots of busy and lots of exhaustion, combined with lots of really mediocre and uninspired work. It's been hard to really get stoked for the voting when even the most inspirational designers seem to be unable to do anything worthy of those skills. Repeat after me: "my skills are dramatic enough that I don't need to only draw other people's characters." Feel better? Great. Now to move on.

One great thing is that today comes with NOT A TILTEED TEE. Believe me, I love being able to feature those guys any time I can, and I love being involved with them, but I also love talking up great tees from everywhere. Today, I'm particularly excited at a return to form from Design by Humans. After a couple very questionable releases (Guntree? Dogfight? Srsly?) they've been unloading quite a few sweet ones this week. For me, of course, the creme-de-la-creme has been biotwist, and his "Traveling in my Space Suit," a former contest watch featured design. I love the colors: how they work together, and the economy of them. I love the image itself: it's somewhere between white-collar superhero and formal spaceman, but whatever it is, the juxtaposition of spacesuit and business suit turns something incredibly boring (I am still unconvinced people -aspire- to cubicles) into something incredibly awesome. The thing that's really the best, however, is the outline of the spaceman, or perhaps I should say the lack thereof. he's framed by stars, flames, action and light, but he has no defined outline. I've always loved the effect, though... the way the background creates an outline where there is none, so in those places where there is no background (see the raised arm), your eye draws one anyway. Maybe I'm easily amused as a non-artist, but I think it's hard to deny this tee's awesomeness either way. I'm just glad to see it print: it makes me feel like my design-mojo is back, and along with the Sonmi print earlier (and an interesting one from "DarkChocolat" between then) seems to show a DBH which hopefully is regaining their own mojo. Go pick one up and show them cats that they're on the right path.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Friend Request

Today, Tilteed gets a bit sensitive with Jewelwing's "Absent Friends." It's a concept that I quite love, with the peaceful, otherworldly scene of all our absent friends, out there in a spiritual reunion. There's the living friend, in purple, set apart from the others, yet still with them behind him, being embraced by the world, yet also almost trying to embrace him back. It's really poignant and encouraging, and while I am hardly a poignant or encouraging person, it is something that definitely deserves to print. It's a lovely take on a hard concept.

If you're in love with the design, the concept, or just happy to see a design based off a literary quote (which cmon, we all know I am up for that), snag it now, and be sure to tell the world... I know a lot of people have waited for this tee to exist for a while now. Best not to let them miss out. Especially since it's only available for the next 72 hours.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bot-ter Days

Quickie tonight. You might recall this one from elsewhere, and there's a good reason for that: it was on my list of tees to check out at the T-Shirt Vault. Of course, with the TSV folding within a day of that post, there were a lot of tees disenfranchised, unpaid designers, and customers with lost money/no tees. That just didn't seem right, so after checking around, I decided to start trying to give these tees a print opportunity.

Our latest Tilteed Limited, then, comes from one such designer: Matthew Laznicka. His design, Robot King, charmed me from the start. It's great, simple vector character design. Fun, bright colors... whimsical robots... back to basics aesthetic. It makes a great graphic tee. I'm pretty stoked to give this piece the chance it deserves. I can only hope people appreciate getting that second chance. Post this one up, y'all.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Leading the Blind

I've got another curation up at Tilteed this weekend: Blind Omniscience, by Dan Rule. Dan's got an amazing cartoon style that is totally worth checking out, but ten to one y'all have checked him out before... he's had plentiful prints at woot, Threadless, and the earlier days of Teefury. I love the colors here, which remain simple and perfect for the illo. The character is fun and charming, yet leaves just enough room for commentary: the design could be the play on the all-seeing eye that it seems to be, or it could take on more power with those who might be a bit more disenchanted with the state of our economy. Personally, I'm just stoked to get to own a copy. It makes a great graphic, great colors, and a brighter, fresher design than many we've been putting out... just in time for springtime.

We've been sitting on this one for way too long, and we're stoked to finally get it out there. Hopefully, you'll love it as much as we do. Just remember, it's only available for 72 hours, so be sure to grab one by Tuesday, Noon Pacific, if you're interested.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Regan Smith Clarke birthday sale

Sometimes, my dear friends, I need to have my hand forced to get you the goods. I'm a busy man these days, and there are times when a blog (like the contest watch I swear I will attempt this evening!) is either one more burden, or a distraction from a night that is just too pleasant to work through. So I was quite excited when Adder-Brand-of-the-Moment Regan Smith Clarke approached me for a retweet of their birthday weekend sale. Why not do one better? These guys are a brand that I've been pretty excited for since stumbling over them, what, a month or two ago? I've been meaning to give them a write-up ever since snagging a two-pack of their tees, and just being unable to make the time. No longer! RSC deserves your recognition.

For starters, the brand is local -Boston represent? - but more than that, they have some of the sheer classiest branded tees available. I'm rocking Use Your Mind right now, a sentiment I certainly agree with, and a clashy yellow-and-blue palette that nevertheless makes the entire proceedings rich with color on a tee (it's perfect for summer, I'd think). Frequent readers might ask why in the name of Hades would I be wearing branded tees at all? It's true, I normally shun the brand tee. However, the style on Regan Smith Clarke's branded offerings makes them a shop that not only am I happy to advertise, but that realizes that shirts are made to be worn. You just don't see brand tees half this wearable very often, nor images that truly work the branding into them to make it a wearable experience. Nothing ruins an amazing graphic more than a brand slapped over the illo.

Even with the praiseworthy nature of their line, though, I'd rather show off Russian Doll (above), their sole non-branded tee. It doesn't tread the newest territory, but the style is stunning and the colors are perfect. It's all about classic graphic style, as the design helps prove, so even without the brand name over it, it's still very cohesive with their overall site mission. Classic styles and gorgeous, simple colors... that's pretty much a recipe for success if you're doing it right, and these guys are. No better time to check it out than the present, too... this weekend, everything's at least 10% off, with free shipping, and awesomeness coming standard. We love the big guns around here, obviously. Our most reliable column is all about what's been up for voting at the sites big enough to allow voted submissions. But while it often gets lost in the shuffle, the newer, smaller, indie-er brands deserve your love too. And there just aren't many that deserve your eye as much as Regan Smith Clarke.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Boogie Oogie Oogie

A day late and a dollar short, but I just wanted y'all to know you can get MJ's (of Compete-tee-tion, teemagnet, teefury, woot fame, and probably some sort of recognition from every other tee site out there) tee "Electric Eel" for $12 until noon, April 5, at Tilteed.com. I love this one because it is a study in simplicity... this could be a superhero crest, it could be a brand logo, it could be an iconic symbol for a hipster revolution... it just looks like it's supposed to be a shirt. There is no denying. It's the classic graphic tee. It even looks, er, "electrifyingly good," with that big white bolt and the fluid halftones both popping color off the black blank. I cannot wait to rock the hell out of this tee, because it is simply made to be rocked the hell out of. Don't miss that chance.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Contest Watch: Week of March 25

It's been a long time since we've rock and rolled like this, and long enough that we have a couple goodies waiting for your votes. Check this: After the brisk closing-down of The T-Shirt Vault, our once-suggested purchase from the_jcw has now become an awesome piece for your votes at Design By Humans: "Our Urban Environment." Not only that, The Lost Beach by Opifan64 and Forbidden Melody by Fikri are both up for your love and votes at Tilteed. That's like, a faceful of awesome.

Tilteed is also leading off the pack this week in new blood, as well, which I am all for. While a solid crop of new designs makes selecting winners more difficult for the site, it also means people are finding the dichotomy of curation and contest easy to handle. The piece that's struck me most in recent weeks is edgarscratch's "Bird Town." It's got a simple style that is simply enthralling to me, even in the greyness of the piece. It all feels very cultured, maybe a little European, and I really like how the illustration is framed by the bird's silhouette. The moon functions as an eye, while the night sky shades and highlights the head. Also, the focus on the roofs of the little town recalls the bird itself, and its own neighborhood within the town. It's well thought out, attractive, and classy. Sort of like your correspondent. How -can't- I like it? It's been up for a while (notice I haven't been here for a few weeks?) but it still deserves your love.

Threadless, for it's sake, totally brought its A-game this week after a few weeks of really letting me down overall. Sure, it's in the middle of a totally arbitrary contest about making sandals, leading to a whole bunch of designs ABOUT sandals, or which only look interesting ON sandals (is no one thinking of the real fact that the sandal prints are going to be covered by your feet and ergo invisible during normal use?) but even so, we got some totally sweet work, and I've 5'd more pieces this week than in most entire months lately. Let's keep this awesomeness up, y'all! Let's start off the awesomefest with someone who has become a regular 'round these parts: Mr. Randyotter3000. This week brings us RAD, which sums up the design 100-fold. This thing is indeed rad-tastic. The character is some sort of bodyless hippie shaman dog or something. That's fine by me, because it totally fits in the overall feel of this piece. I kinda feel like I'd feel like a bodyless hippie shaman dog in it, and I think that's an experience worth striving for if you can get it without the drugs. The image definitely delivers there... it looks like the party of the century, yet only in dog-man's mind. The colors are far and away the selling point here... they're absolutely wonderfully saturated and yet well-vintaged. The shades pop brilliantly and yet sink naturally into the black blank, like worn neon, if such a thing could exist. I can't imagine this not making an amazing, fun, colorful-without-being-annoying tee. I'd buy it, and I'd throw a party the next day just to have an excuse to wear it.

Playing the role of "Threadless Gold Standard" tee of the week is Wishful Thinking by WanderingBert. Here's what I mean by that: Threadless has a certain style that they are really known for. Simplicity is part of it. Solid concept is another. Smart humor is a third. And this combines all three. The style is spare and simple, letting the concept's humor shine through. It doesn't try too hard to make a joke. It doesn't overload the senses. It's subtle and intelligent. And what's really nice is that it is a CREATIVE concept. The genie here, while certainly borrowing imagery from the Disney representation, nevertheless does not rely on that. This isn't about -that- genie. It's about -a- genie. These days that's a huge, important distinction. This shirt is about the interaction here, not about selling to rabid Aladdin fans. It's a direction I'd love to see Threadless' humor catalog turn back to. This is familiar because the concept is understandable. I think we can still go back to that and be creative. I certainly hope so at least.

Finishing the Threadless portion of tonight's blog, we have something epic and out of the ordinary from DaleEdwin. If Thine Eye Offend Thee... is one of the most exciting potential Threadless tees I've seen in a long time. It's all about departure: in some ways it's even a departure for the designer. There's a lot of his trademark style, and I don't think anyone familiar would not be able to tell it was his work, but it feels a lot darker, a lot more industrial, a lot creepier than his often lighthearted work. Then again, it's also a lot darker than a lot of what Threadless itself prints, but it's simply too awesome to go unnoticed. It's incredibly striking, especially since it's limited color palette nevertheless is made up of two perfect colors. The green adds to the toxic, industrialized feel of the piece, creating its own layer of creepiness for the proceedings, and the off-white smoke and drip complements the black and green while also making the "gore" of the image less realistic and more acceptable. The other elements of the design are no less striking, though. The motion in the central act of eye-poking looks as lovely as such an action can look, the pipes and wires and tubes flow wonderfully, but I'm most enthralled by the empty heads. They're haunting, both unsettling and irresistible to look at. They frame the entire scene and scenario in their vacant stares. This is serious awesome, and it simply must see ink.

Equally epic comes from shirt.woot this week, which is exactly why it didn't print and is in my blog for you to rage rage against the dying of its light. Simply titled Sentience, this has the luck of having two brilliant tablets handle it. The collaboration between Robbie Lee's classic textures and robots and Edgar R. McHerly's crazed, joyful dreamscapes really brings in the best of both epic worlds. The contrast of styles is perfect given the world-of-imagination concept at work. Robbie handles a detailed central scene of creation, while Edgar frames it all with whimsical images of what might go on inside that newborn cybernetic imagination. As we can see, this sort of android dreams of electric androids. It's all perfect. I defy one to say otherwise. The colors? Perfect. The purple is vibrant and exciting, and offsets the grays of the "real" world with a boldness in the dream one, and lets be honest, I've been a fiend for white tees lately. The layout? Perfect. Massive swaths of white make it incredibly breathable despite its shape, and the solidness of the frame is highly appropriate for the concept, as well as being edged to give even its solidity some intrigue. The only negative to this design is how it is not in existence yet, because when it is, it will be mine.

Speaking of shirts being mine, some sweet ass Tilteed tees can be yours if you take part in our contest outlined in our last post. Just send ol' Adder a pic of you in your favorite Tilteed Limited, and get entered to win one of two Tilteed tees of your choice. More on that in my last blog. But you shoulda been looking at that anyway, eh?