Extreme BullSh*t by Steven Rhodes (blue sparrow) is my favorite of Threadless’s batch of politically-themed tees that debuted this week. I think the vintage illustration style is an excellent choice because it sets up a contrast between the tradition and decorum of the past with more modern rhetoric. The National Parks setting is also smart, both because it calls attention to the current administrations issues in that area and because it presents the idea of this very weary hiker about to try to make his way through a crowded forest where lies grow like trees. It’s funny to think of a sign warning travelers of a psychological annoyance in the same way it might warn of dangers like bears, high river levels, or avalanche.
Psycho by Aled Lewis (aled) is a smart send up because initially it looks like a fairly straightforward image of the White House. Two things, though, ought to immediately pique the curiosity of the viewer- first, that it’s shown at night (how often do you see that?), and secondly, the single illuminated yellow window. Investigating that window is when the real horror kicks in. It’s midnight. Trump is in the White House. And he’s tweeting! Even the flag looks droopy and depressed. There’s also a great detail on the lower right, where a real bird perches (reinforcing the idea of Twitter and its bird logo, but also helping the scene to look even more lonely and empty).
Shut Your Fingers Up by Rodrigo Leonardo Batista Ferreira (rodrigobhz) is another Twitter-focused design, this time transforming their famous bird logo into Trump. In particular, the morphing of the bird’s beak into Trump’s hair is skillfully done. The rough, crayon-drawn style of the image is also brilliant because it instantly calls attention to the lack of maturity and low caliber of what’s been tweeted. All in all, a very bold, successful piece whose message is impossible to miss.
Dare by Rodrigo Leonardo Batista Ferreira (rodrigobhz) is definitely bold and memorable, tweaking a common image into something with a very different message. There’s a real vintage, faded quality to the I Voted layer, which helps this to feel like an old shirt that the wearer has worn a lot and the modified more recently. That’s a real strength for this design, because while a lot of protest or politically themed pieces point out problems, this one actually gives a solution and signifies that the person wearing it isn’t just complaining, they’re prepared to also work within the system and be a part of the process. The use of a cursive style on the red additions is a really nice moment; it implies a restraint and element of tradition that cancels out some of the more anarchic interpretations that the design might otherwise have. Very well done.
Just Say No. by Nicholas Ginty (Gintron) is a design I have some mixed feelings about. I love the hand-drawn look of it, which helps gives the art some real character. And declaring your opposition to fake news is a hugely popular sentiment right now, so there’s a substantial audience to draw customers from. To me, though, there’s a real problem with the universality of the phrase fake news- different groups are using it to mean very different things. A left-leaning person would describe fake news as being highly partisan websites that either exaggerate or entirely invent news stories, but Donald Trump and many of his followers use the same term to describe entities like CNN when what they report isn’t to their liking. It’s a real problem to me that someone wearing the design intending the first meaning could easily be mistaken as representing the second. After all, if a design making a political statement is not clear in the statement it is making, can it really be a success?
Threadless prints new shirts every week, chosen from the designs submitted by and voted on by site members. Most winners earn $1 minimum per item sold (learn more about Threadless artist payments).