Tuesday, June 29, 2010

sea and sand

I've already written about AtomicChild's Seven Seas. I'm sure at the time I noted it's wonderful style and flow, channeling a bit of Hokusai with a bit of modern street. If I didn't notice before, I'd certainly suggest the simple and tasteful colors, and the way the splattering of textures makes everything feel all the more wet. Heck, I know for a fact I told you to buy it. So what has changed since then that makes it require a second rehash? More than you'd expect.

Seven Seas was one of the features in my top-10 review of the T-shirt Vault. Yknow, the major contest site where hundreds of designs went up for sale competing for one mega prize and a couple quite solid smaller ones? The place where every tee sold was going to bring in some solid profit for the designers? The place that closed down unceremoniously the day after my feature, with no orders fulfilled, no profits to be paid? Yeah, you can probably see where I'm going with this. Today is second in what I hope will be an eventual ten-part series of these under-respected tee orphans. Tilteed is the lucky home again this time, so you can feel secure in getting a product that will make the wait worthwhile (and yes, you can certainly browse through my blog for my less biased opinions of the site from before I was affiliated with them). Sadly, though, the tee will only be available to you for just about another day and a half (blimey, am I getting slow at this). Don't miss out. $12 is a small price to pay to help these tees find a home.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Who was on my tee last night?

One of the things I love about Edgar McHerly is one of the things I love about certain bands. Yknow, the one everyone forgot about but you love? The one you stumbled over on the web and none of your friends know? The band you slip onto mix CDs all the time in hopes that everyone will love them, but never want to hear on the radio? That's Edgar. Always original, always unique, always changing things up, always evolving. His humor is absurd and striking. His art is challenging and often beautiful. And his newest piece is The Butthole Surfers. Fans of the band from which the design takes its name could probably see the relationship... the Surfers made a name for themselves by being themselves and pushing the limits of "normal" music. The tee itself is epic, trippy, imposing... the creature in the spotlight here is gigantic and otherworldly, glowing and casting beams from his hands to his eyes or vice-versa. It also appears to be in a sort of reverie, which is not less disconcerting, but adds a bit of power to the proceedings. And I really love the floating squares, coming across like static, or the fuzz behind our eyes after squeezing our eyes shut or looking into the sun. Because really, this sort of sweetness SHOULD pseudo-blind us.

This piece is only at Tilteed for the next two days or so... way to be late on your own curation, Adder!... so definitely grab one now and get on the ground floor with an artist I truly believe should be praised as one of the best under-known artists out there.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sound and Vision

One of the greatest things about this blogging thing is finding the best of the best out there that are yet to print. In all honesty, while there are many amazing tee sites out there printing amazing tees, the truth of all art is that the most interesting stuff will never rise to prominence. That's why I love that I decided in the long long ago to start a Contest Watch 'round here... even on the weeks I've taken off, I'm always looking, scoring, and browsing the web for new unprinted designs. That's the way to find the really special stuff in any art you choose... keep digging.

Vicariously, the greatest thing about my time at Tilteed has been an ability to have a say in getting those personal gems printed. I can't imagine having that sort of opportunity to support art and just churning out the same exact thing as everyone else. That all being said, I hope my past curated designers don't take offense when I say that Of the Beholder by Torakamikaze is, no lie, the tee I'm most excited to have printed with Tilteed. It's a personal fave, to be sure... a piece I blabbed about in the long long ago as a Threadless submission. I've always loved how this is all about pure creation. The linework is gorgeous, the imagery is bold, the colors straddle a wonderful line of warm colors and cool ones (I'd definitely go for an icee in these shades, though hopefully with less eyes). It's intriguing and a bit haunting. It's wearable and unique. The eye (ours, not the tee's) is drawn through those thick strips of linework, the subtler tangles, the explosive plumes of red. I love how the eyes, even without faces, evoke a sort of wisdom and definite personality. But I really love knowing that something unique is getting a chance to shine that it might not have gotten otherwise. Sadly, though, it's only gonna be around for 72 hours, a good 12 of which are long gone by now, so don't delay, and spread the word.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Contest Watch: Week of June 10

Title: Twin Brother
Designer: ndikol

We're going layout crazy today, since we're working with purely Threadless designs. For starters, we're gonna cute you into submission with this piece. What I love about it is the simplicity. It's all very childlike, while being soothingly so... simple shapes, like a good kids book. The palette is pleasant as well, subtle but smart. But the concept, while also embracing that same simplicity, is the real wonder. The repetition of the shapes from sun to lion to flower, progressively shrinking in size, just makes an incredibly appealing design. It'll make a great kids tee, but it's not overbearing in any way, which makes it perfect for all future wearers. This is what cute is all about.

Title: GalactiCactus
Designer: Niv Bavarsky

It's no surprise to y'all by now that I love stuff that makes no sense. More than likely such work makes up the vast majority of what I've talked up in my time with this blog. I believe that art is for expression, and there simply isn't much being expressed if you're spelling everything out for everyone (and really, do you WANT to spend time around someone who can't handle some simple thought?) What this tee brings is a wearability of execution with an oddness of content. The colors invite the surreal, the spacey, but doesn't keep anyone out unless they purposefully wish it. Great shirts should wear well, and I believe this would do just that.

Title: The House Smoker
Designer: kako64

Well then: if you tend to crave your oddness way bolder, this is definitely a tee for you. One of the easy highlights is that beautiful yellow-on-black contrast, and that lends worlds of character to the title dude and the focal point of the tee. The big blobby shape is a charmer. Far be it from me to try and glamorize smoking, especially at the expense of a whole house, but there's definitely a calm about the guy, like you'd imagine in an old sitcom, when dad comes home and lights his pipe. You almost pick up that warmth between the warm yellow of the creature, the warm lights shining in the windows and chimneys smoking along throughout the scene, but also in the playful and cozy style. The town looks like a really homey place, with it's buildings drawn roughly so that despite height and presumed population, it still has a rural, rustic feel as well... some old-world Europe stuff, perhaps. And that feeling really adds worlds of depth to this scene.

Title: Drawn to Life
Designer: Anything Goes

Far be it from me to ever go so far as to insist "anything goes" as the designer's moniker does, but this piece is really a brilliant showing of what should be done with source material. The way the photograph interacts with the drawn elements is stunning and uses great perspective. The elements line up perfectly, and pop out three-dimensionally. What I really love here is how the photo implies a dead series of fallen trunks, yet the drawing gives them a rebirth, giving a double layer to the design's title: not only is there a drawing attached to real-life images, but that drawing brings the photo trees back to life, and does a stunning job doing so. One of the best from the current Threadless Loves Shutterstock contest.

Title: Balalaika
Designer: Lesha Ki

We end off in pure shirt. Patterning. Colors. Vector work. If you were to condense the world of tee design down to its basics, this would be it. It's design created for fashion, design created to be worn. The patterning, symmetry and ornamentation sprout off from the title element, an Eastern European instrument somewhere between a guitar and a shovel. I think this would be even more perfect if the feel of it related more to that focal element, but it still makes for a gorgeous design that one can wear and just enjoy the interplay of the elements.

Monday, June 14, 2010


If you haven't heard about the massive oil geyser in the Gulf of Mexico yet, you're probably living under a rock. If you're not concerned about it, you probably should remain there, or else allow someone to create such a home for you under a particularly heavy boulder. It's a tragedy which should really strike a chord as to the importance of moving on from our oil reliance, and ceasing being more concerned with owning guns and oppressing minorities than fighting for our environment. But if you're like me, you're nowhere near the Gulf, or don't know who to trust to donate time or money to. For those of you who can, donating directly will be the best option, but for the rest of us, take opportunities as they present themselves. As tee lovers, it is worth considering Threadless' new design "PeliCAN," all proceeds from which will be going toward helping the situation in the Gulf. It is a small step that can tally up to a big difference: this isn't the first tee Threadless has created for a charity effort, and the community is large enough that it can build a huge donation out of many small donations. Of course, 'round here, the biggest thing is creating a wearable, awesome design, but this doesn't skimp on art for the sake of message: the black and white combo is classy and classic, and the image is powerful and simple, while also highlighting some excellent execution on the oil. You get an awesome shirt to make people think a little harder about the world around them, and just buying it donates actual green to the green movement, not just awareness. If all charity was this easy, we'd have way fewer problems. It doesn't hurt, of course, that the Threadless summer sale is still going on for a few more hours, but with great art benefiting a vital cause, this is worth the buy at full price.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Contest Watch: Week of June 3

This is the summer. Time to wear tees, right? And for many, what better time to get some free time to design, as well? Here at Singularitee, we're all about helping out, so let's discuss some of the things we, as an artistic whole, need more of. Integrity is nice. Honesty is, too. But we can hone it down more specifically. Before we do, though, as is customary, consider tossing votes here: EricatheRed has a longtime Contest Watch favorite (Skyscrapers) at Goodjoe's new special contest, and the good folks at Made With Awesome finally have put up the uber-wonderful Heart Attack up on their "vote" page. That's some old-school shirt for y'all. Now, to the new school.

For starters, the tee world could -always- use more pure skillful execution, and despite recent prints that imply otherwise, Design By Humans is still the place to find a tee like Artifacts by brianluong. It's big and bold, but the flow is beautiful while the composition is visceral. The linework is complex while the colors are simple. It's incredibly wearable: it inhabits the canvas perfectly. When people describe t-shirt art, part of the story is understanding the canvas. Shirts are not like framed art... there needs to be a respect for the form it will eventually come to rest on. This has plenty of that along with gorgeous imagery.

As you probably have heard, this weekend begins the Threadless "Beach Party" sale. $10 tees. All tees. That's something I can always go for in my tees... I'm all for paying a premium for premium content, but getting it for cheaper is always nice. But Threadless, despite what is a growing disrespect for original ideas, is still one of the most diverse places when it comes to subs, and that brings us to the second thing we truly need: truly diverse, different work. An artist like ginetteginette is the definition of this, and a design like her Stix is why. It's something totally different from the norm, with its mix of photographic elements and bright digital stripes. However, it is the total difference which makes it totally irresistible. The diverse shapes and lengths of the sticks add a lot of visual intrigue to the layout, but let's be honest, the kicker is the pastel banding all along the bits of wood. There's not a lot to concept, but it intrigues and excites for being simply so different. That is what great art does: it piques interest, sparks imagination, and quite often pushes envelopes. Yet again, shirt art needs to be wearable, and again, this does that. It's a perfect design especially for an over-shirt... the fun colors, textures, and such make for a perfect accent pop, but the classic white of the tee would make it just as perfect on its own. There is always more room for another totally unique design, especially in a design culture that glorifies that which has already been done a million times.

The tee world, furthermore, needs more true flights of imagination. Friend-of-the-blog Mitohapa has one such piece up at DBH, entitled Antlerfish. It does a lot of similar things as Artifacts does in terms of stellar flow and shirt-inhabitation, but where the former shirt is big on a more "hardcore" stylization, this is much more dreamlike. It's organic, creating a new creature before our eyes, and that makes this more than your average tee of this style... the creation of the new creature captures imagination, especially given the elements which the critter is made of... wings, fish body, and antlers. The sort of imagination to pull these sorts of things out of the blue and put them to paper, pixel, and then cotton is sorely missing in today's tee design. Who needs something familiar when something new looks so good already?

But it's not all about sheer beauty, avant-garde concept, flawless, complex lines. Shirts are shirts, and shirt art is incredibly diverse. Indeed, one of the things we truly need in the tee world is killer concept. Note: that's concept, not pointless mash-up. Creative, smart, original concept. And that's where a Threadless heavyweight like fatheed comes in. His Typical is a perfect example of the sort of strong, unique, yet totally relate-able concept work. If I really have to explain this concept to you, you probably have difficulty wearing shirts in the first place. It takes an event we're all familiar with... a common frustration... and puts it in the context of another similar, familiar phenomenon. It's a "why didn't I think of that" moment, and that's what makes it both artful and even marketable without sacrificing that spark of something special. Of course, the execution works wonders as well... the nondescript people are done in a style that contrasts well against the cartoony style of the main characters, and the colors are bright, eye-catching, and attractive. It's classic Threadless, and perfect concept. When people say they want something they understand, yet don't go for this sort of stuff, I can't help but wonder what they really understand. This hits all the right notes of cute, funny, familiar, while also original and cleanly executed. It's what this sort of tee should be all about.

But finally, sometimes it's all about a simple graphic to portray your sense of self, and really, this one right here is a doozy for me: Shut Up by hgoodspeed. It's an elevated slogan tee, elevated by having a personal style, hand lettering (no horrid, generic fonts here... up yours, helvetica!) and a snarky, real humor. It's not a weak, overdone bumper sticker. It's not forced humor. It's straight, to the point, and executed playfully and amusingly. It's also something I can see myself wearing. Once you slap text on a tee, it NEEDS to be interesting, and it needs to be something the wearer can relate to. This is one reason I am not a big fan of branded tees. But c'mon, telling the world to shut up is something I can get behind, and especially if it's done through a charming shirt graphic. I'd pick this up in a heartbeat, tho I don't expect to ever have the chance. But even without summing me up to a "T," it proves just how far even an oft-painful tactic such as text-reliance can be elevated by honesty and individuality. And again, as I've said, that is what it boils down to. Let's make this a summer devoted to that, shall we?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Killing Yourself to Live

We love the tees we talk up here, and love seeing them print pretty much anywhere, because they deserve it. There are, of course, the rare pieces that we feel deserve more: I always get a little sad when a contest watch alum finds its way to Threadless' 12 club instead of a more widespread circulation, am saddened when a designer gives up and wastes amazing work on a Direct To Garment print site, and then there's that horribly chunky bastardization of a casajordl piece that LaFraise did. We don't like to talk about these things, though. Which is why ThirstyFly's Zombie and the Butterfly (now The Butterfly Defect) printing at woot makes me frustrated. Shirt.woot and I have a love/hate relationship, but decisions like this are almost more frustrating than them perpetuating stale Chuck Norris humor. This illustration is stunning, crisp, detailed... and originally was mocked as a sideprint, starting at the bottom. Woot's rendition loses almost all of the charm of the first. It's hard to say whose fault this is... whether they forced the artist to make changes, or the artist changed it for them... but either way, it makes the piece feel wasted. The tilted image, the smaller image, the cut-off, centered image... it all creates a far less appealing design, and I can't help but be upset that the image will now never have a chance to become what it deserves. Woot owns it, and the design will, like most all woot designs of artistic worth, die instantaneously on the reckoning. The alterations will do it no favors in life or sales numbers. I love seeing something of this quality print at woot, but it really pains me to know it needed to be compromised for them to print it.

In the end, though, our contest watch pieces are our babies. Some of you might well still love this, and if so, you deserve to get your hands on it. It's almost guaranteed to be dead by the 21st, though, so be sure to be speedy about your decision.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


As we speak, I am on a train. It is yesterday, and I am taking time to do all the awesome things I've meant to do for weeks now. Foremost among them, giving Mumford Clothing some love. Those of you who are more well-versed in the tee world probably know the name of Dan Mumford from the world of Emptees... he's one of those guys that people fall over themselves to praise. And in this case, they're right.

We've talked about Mr. Mumford in the past, with his Submit and Remix project, but today we're talking about his own personal line. Release #1 is called "The Heretic," which as a name is pretty much guaranteed to not be my style, but the thing about this guy's art is, it is your style anyway. The linework is stunning, and it hits all the right "hardcore" notes while still being totally wearable. There's lots of fire, fierce critters, demons, skulls, etc, but the artwork focuses on the lines, not the "rarr I'm so counterculture" vibe that many other takes on this style seem to prefer. I'm kinda in love with the fiery colors of parts VII and VIII of the series, but "I. Prologue" is really the perfect summation of the whole line. The blues and reds are moody, striking a dark beauty against the black. The bats are wild and ominous, the girl surrounded by them smooth and calm, her hair blowing. It's great artistry, and fills the shirt smartly: I'm a sucker for a big chest print, but the shape itself, and how the bats frame the flow of the image, makes it even better. It doesn't hurt, either, that this site has one important change from the last one: prices in US dollars. Serious art for a reasonable price is reason enough to check any site out, especially when the profits go to one guy who definitely deserves to make a living off his skill.

Friday, June 4, 2010

No One Can Hear I Scream

Contrary to popular belief, we at Tilteed are not exclusively selling frozen novelty tees this summer, though that would be kinda fun and refreshing. However, we cannot deny the charm of Chris Risse's new limited design "Ice Cream From Space." It's a matter of colors here: the Neapolitan ice cream colors pop, er, creamily off the black? Maybe that's a faulty adjective, but it's all pretty delicious. It doesn't hurt that the design captures the imagination (mmm, delicious imagination)... space is always fascinating, because we don't know what's out there, but once you get something to make that unimaginable world imaginable? That just makes you hunger for more. Astronaut Ice Cream was one of those experiences that made anything feel possible... it's so remote from what we're used to as kids, and it is tied to, let's be honest, one of the coolest jobs ever. That makes it real. And knowing that the unbelievable is real just serves to make it more fascinating.

As always, you've got a little under 72 hours to refresh your summer the space way.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summertime, and the Living's Icee

We're ringing in summer with some super-sweet tees at Tilteed. Today we're going the humor route, something we don't do frequently, with theinfintyloop's Slushie. It's a fun concept for dog lovers. Or slushie lovers. Or summer lovers, having a blast.

What I enjoy about this is the subtlety of the concept and the readability even missing that subtlety. There is a sort of humor in a dog eating like a human, even if you miss the connection of dog breeds with bizarrely blue tongues. The execution is solid, capturing the doggyness of the dog. It's sort of the definition of cute... a loyal pet just panting away happily. Again, it's not a card we play often at Tilteed, but we think this is definitely the sort of tee to take that chance on: great work from a great artist, and once again, just in time for summer. The gold blank doesn't hurt either. But remember, just like the gorgeous weather, this'll be gone before you know it.