Thursday, July 15, 2010

Contest Watch: Week of July 8

Weeks later, we have a couple things worth noting this week on Contest Watch. First off, if you love SingulariTee, and you obviously do, you can check out our Facebook page for our hopefully more frequent updates and even occasional bonuses (sales watches, bonus contest watch pieces, whatever else I can milk for extras). We'd love to see you fan us. We'd also love to see you give some love to DaleEdwinMurray's "If Thine Eye Offends Thee." It's one of the best I've seen around the circuit this year, and it's a crime that it didn't print with Threadless. We really needed another Mario shirt instead!

We've been happy to get the chance to chat up Design By Humans a lot this week in various arenas... they've got a killer sale going on, and we still have a 10% code to get you even more savings (check our banner). But there have been scads of great potential DBH tees just itching to be talked about for a while now, one of which being a favorite we missed talking about once upon a time at Threadless. Since it's new to you, let me present ecsu's A Timeless Murder. Again, like Dale's, I'm not sure why we're even getting this chance to bring it into today's contest watch: it really -should- be printed already. It's got it all... amazing colors (the primary-colored rainbow makes for a bold accent against the dark clock housing), wonderful textures on the wood, engaging flow with the rainbow and the strangling arms, and even the concept is nice and intriguing. It could go a lot of directions, but I like thinking, given the murder in the title, that it's a commentary of the impossibility of infinity, and the way time keeps marching on, but all things end. The great thing about designs like this, though, is that it's so reliant on symbolism that anyone who cares to take the time can find something to connect with here. Great, ambitious art.

Over at Threadless, we've got some greatness as well. Mostly birds, apparently. Consider the case of Torakamikaze's Let It Out. I'm pretty sure the colors here used to be in popsicles in my childhood (huzzah blue raspberry!) so the design rocks my midsummer world on palette alone. It's got a psychedelic nature to it that makes it quite appealing, but what I love is the highly synthetic looking colors against a pretty nice looking eagle-head. Or is that a hawk? Ornithologists? Anyway, it presents a nice contrast of styles and concepts, and the "lasers from the mouth" thing is pretty super in and of itself. This hawk is intense. Or falcon. It's possible there's a vague patriotism factor making this so workable, as well... the eagle with a spin on a red white and blue palette might subconsciously make the whole piece feel all the more right. It's obviously unintentional, but the subconscious can't hurt when you're looking at art. I imagine this right here is all about the tee, which is to say, the artist created it because it looked rad, not to show off drawing chops (though it's certainly attractive), nor to put forth any deep or amusing concept (though, who knows). But at the end of the day, a hot looking shirt is enough reason for a shirt to exist. Shirt for shirt's sake. It's not trite. It's not boring. It's simple, standalone fashion-graphic. And it's destined to be a tee.

More tweet tees from Threadless are coming from the likes of alvarejo, who brings us Ready for First Class. This is definitely stunning execution, because it's a different sort of tee. It's much more about vintage details than bold graphic. The black-and-"white" illustration style hints to this already, but it's all the more obvious with the ridiculously outdated accouterments this little guy has with him. It's all pretty lovely... the sign of a truly skilled artisan... but really the best parts of this have nothing to do with concept or linework. Sure, the top hat is the first thing we notice, and it's somehow always a smile to see a critter in a top hat, but I think I like the stuffed suitcase more... what is this guy even going to pack? The camera goes even further over the top... it's so large, so gaudy, so old, that it just looks hilarious in any light, especially being worn by a pigeon. But the detail I love most is the shoes. They're so blatantly big on the pigeon that the absurdity of the whole thing is heightened all the more. These are people-clothes, pigeon! That's the best of this piece: so many similar designs fight to make the humanized creature seem totally natural, but this one revels in just how silly the whole idea is. It feels very self-aware, and that, along with stellar execution, is what sets it apart.

Of course, Threadless never has been purely about flawless execution. Indeed, for all the amazing tees I've discussed that have been up at the site, their legacy is much more in tune with such designs as bananaphone's "Dear Sir." This defines Threadless humor, which is no surprise when you consider the iconic tees the designer has brought to the site. Sure, it's easy to think of the scads of pop "humor" dominating the airwaves, but this is what built the site's humor catalog, in a very real way. The graphic is simple, which is what a graphic needs to be in a quick-and-dirty humor tee like this, but it still has its distinct style. More importantly, though, the text is legitimately funny. Or at least, I think so. It's a matter of the refined, polite request for what is undeniably a horrible deal to make. I'm personally OK with not getting my face clawed, Mr. Bear. It doesn't hurt, of course, that this flowery prose comes from that simply-styled graphic... it makes the juxtaposition all the stronger. Nor does it hurt that the tone of the text resonates with me for it's dark almost anti-humor and its sense of snark. Or that I kinda love me some red tees. But in the end, it's just refreshing to see this sort of tee still being created and still thriving. I'm pretty sure, unfortunately, that scoring will be over by the time this post comes up, but if you're into seeing this sort of thing continue to succeed, I urge you to comment anyway. Regards, Adder.

Finally, back to DBH. I tweeted about this earlier this week, but for the rest of you, you need need need to check out the scads of amazing work that went up for voting this week by beecombs. My favorite of the pieces is, without a doubt, Hive, because it looks like nothing I've ever seen before. The complex network of polyhedrons invites both the eyes and the imagination... the tube-like areas feel like transit pathways, which helps bolster the idea of this structure being a hive, but the questions come harder and faster than the answers. It's hard to say if this is a rendering of an insect abode, or some alien space station. The piece straddles the chasm of organic ore formation and wooden carpentry project as well. It keeps you wondering just what you're looking at. And as far as I'm concerned, that's fine. Maybe I don't want to know. I'm happy just looking and imagining, so long as it looks awesome.

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