Thursday, August 26, 2010

Contest Watch Extra: Week of August 19

It's been a while, lords and ladies. Yknow what's happened in those days? Most importantly, Cameesa's closed and the DBH10K opened. There's probably not a lot we can do about the former (I'd recommend flooding their inbox about any balance you might have sunk there), but the latter comes with a decided action: VOTE. With a huge prize, there's lots of great work, and just as much absolutely awful work. Thankfully votes aren't the final deciding factor, but showing your support can't hurt. We've got a number of past Contest Watch pieces fighting it out at DBH lately because of it, so definitely give some love to:

Kakolak's "The House Smoker"
Sweetnsour's "pandahorsetank"
Thechild's "Nature's Embrace"
Jameses' "Nobody Wants to be a Lonely Gingerbread"

And for those of you who want to branch out a bit Euro, check out LaFraise, where theinfinityloop has subbed "I'm, Alas, a Salami."

Speaking of both theinfinityloop and the Design By Humans 10K, I feel I should direct you all to a piece that deserves the attention, yet is not doing that well on the charts. Her "Sailor's Warning" is probably one of the best tees I've seen in a long time. It's incredibly intricate... it feels like a paper cutting, a big swatch of red paper carved with an x-acto knife. The flow is stunning... it fills the tee brilliantly, and the mythic creatures swell and swirl in the sky. But the color is what makes this pop so brilliantly. The red is a bit tamed, which makes it less in your face than it could be, but still allows for serious contrast and a beautiful combo. It's odd, with all the rage of the colors and the fury of the sea monsters and such inhabiting the air, the bottom still feels peaceful and beautiful. I find it rather hard to understand what could be unappealing about this design, but seeing some of what has over 200 votes, it's probably because people just don't have a remote idea of taste.

Threadless has big things going on too, of course. In case you didn't notice, they've been in the midst of a big ol' $10 sale. It's been extended 'til the new batch of tees goes up on Monday, so it's not too late to grab a favorite or three. But really, I'm sure I'm not the only one among y'all who is finding fewer and fewer new Threadless tees to fall in love with, so let's focus on the purpose of these blogs: the new stuff. I am kinda loving this piece from aman, for starters. It's called shadows, and it's definitely shadowy, but also a bit mummified. What I love about character pieces like this is that they are creepy with charm.There is little question that there's something bizarre and unsettling about these characters, their skin opening up to an oozing blackness, but then there are those faces, the spindly limbs, that give them a sort of innocence which keeps one looking and intrigued. It's almost like a trainwreck, except much more attractive... still, you can't help but feel like you cannot look away, even despite that unsettling nature. I'm a big fan of the lines. I like lines, and these give a fingerprint mystique, looking at all the wrappings, following them... lines can be hypnotic like that. But I'm also a fan of smart geometrics, like the dual diamond behind the characters. Not only does it give one more element of greyscale, but the way it's kinda painted-on gives it a cryptic symbolic nature. It feels like a masonic seal or some other mystical gem, calling these shrouded half-dead creatures up to rise again. And that simply drives the whole shebang homeward to me. It's an element that not only ties the design, but adds a bit more story.

Back to DBH and the 10K, it shouldn't be overly surprising for me to state that Wotto, one of the most prolific tee designers on the web, has entered the fray. But what I'm really intrigued by is what he's entered with, namely this last piece. Wotto is the sort of guy you can't help but respect and root for, but for me he's also the sort I don't always love everything he puts out, especially since his iconic doodle collages can require one to be picky, just in the interest of not buying every single one. What I love about this design, entitled Image176, is that it takes everything we know about wotto's work and makes it different. This is still collage, but the style being taken on here is certainly different, edgier, more "collage" than a bunch of charming doodles are. It's far more serious, the colors are killer, and the text hits that sweet spot where it works in aid of a mood instead of becoming too clunky and self-aware to be wearable. It's a definite contender, as far as I see.

Now, you might be seeing a bit of a theme, and unintentionally, there is. DBH10K gives way to spooky and charming gives way to DBH10K, etc etc. So taking up the spook side at Threadless is Monster? by Jublin. Again, there's that subtle, dark, basic palette, again we should be scared, but there's a charm and a wonder that leads us to look deeper. That charm is potentially printable just at first blush... it's a smiley monster coming in from your closet (or so it seems). Kinda creepy, but with that smile, kinda inviting too. Maybe you want the monster to come in. The imperfect doors and old fashioned wallpaper put a lot of charm into the otherwise barren room he's entering. But the thing that truly sells this for me is the excellent use of negative space. Yes, the monster himself is negative space, but the framework is simply swarming with beady-eyed monstrosities. And this is, again, where that balance of creep and charm takes place. You want to love the monster in the middle, with his simple grin and furry nature. But then you have all the others staring at you, blank eyed and serious. They're invading the room, and honest, we the viewer get a little uncomfortable. It's an ominous counterpoint to the blissful new entry. And it's some excellent use of negative space, and some smart framing. It's choices like that which make a shirt truly wearable, and while I worry about taking a really bold stance on color similarities (even though light-on-dark normally succeeds), the overall piece just works. And working is something far too many tees don't seem to care to do.

Finally, let's finish at DBH. There's been a lot of darkness this week, so let's finish off with exuberance. Should be simple. Enter Reilly's High 4. Starring one of the most happy of cartoon hands ever to be seen, this is one of those gems I love bringing in to show the world just how perfect simple can be done. Simple isn't about boring or stupid or poorly made. It's about just what it says: simplicity. This piece takes on two really simple concepts: the lack of fingers on a cartoon hand, and the awesomeness of a high-five. Well, ok, the title is really the main hint to the former part, but using the cartoon style helps highlight the latter. High fives can be pretty cheesy, but the honest among us know that a good one never FEELS cheesy. Even with a jump, skip, squeal, or any such flamboyant addition. This is a total ode to that feeling of epic camaraderie. Anyone who has truly needed the high-five for their own purposes knows what this glove feels. A tee that can capture a feeling like this is something worth supporting, especially if it takes such a great executional route to get there.

And to finish off, we have one more creepy thing we can't look away from: the shirt.woot double-take derby. As always, the actual prints are all but guaranteed to be yet another slap in the face from absolute mediocrity, but there is always a certain hope: Editor's Choice, when a week of dailies become a week of prints that should have printed. Of course, the woot overlords are just as fallible as their "esteemed" constituency, but even so, it can rarely get -worse-. If woot wanted to put me out a good $40, this would be a great way to do so: ilovedoodle's beautiful Solar System, thatrobert's minimalist The Poet's Weapons, tgentry's one color marvel Flight, and capedcrusader514's modern and bold Bird in Space.

1 comment:

Kakolak said...

Thanks for your support AdderXYU.
If that House Smoker is printed, I'll send you some money, by paypal, to buy one !^_^! King Regards.