Out by Zhao Xiang (micronisus) is my favorite shirt this week, in part because its surreal theme, low color count and crisp vectors remind me of the style seen often in early Threadless shirts. But even without the benefit of t-shirt nostalgia, this is a very fun piece. I like the way it transforms the guard’s familiar helmet into a birdcage, playing off both the curved shape of the hat and its leafy texture. It’s the kind of juxtaposition that is likely to have you imagining a bird trapped in there the next time you see this kind of helmet in the wild. Smart art choices, like applying a light texture to the ink and using bright white to highlight the bird, help to push the concept even further and make it more successful. One detail I love is the way the guard’s eyes are almost hidden under his hat- it’s a neat hint that although you, the viewer, can see the bird, he has no idea it’s there.
Goodnight by Danmir Mercado (dampa) tucks a realistic nature scene into the silhouette of a guitar. There’s a nice relationship between the natural sound of the acoustic guitar and these pristine surroundings, even down to the slightly old-fashioned feeling of the black and white artwork. What’s most interesting to me, though, is the choice to keep the guitar upright rather than laying on its side. I think most artists might have chosen the horizontal option because it keeps the focal point of the art higher on the shirt, making it feel more flattering to the wearer. But there’s definitely something to be said for this choice as well, which allows the artist to really emphasize the height of those white mountains, and transforms the guitar’s neck into an endless sky.
Choix by Mathiole (mathiole) won Threadless’s Avant Garde challenge, and it definitely represents the theme well. What I like about this one is the way it takes a bunch of unrelated elements, forms and art styles and somehow makes them all flow together. There’s great movement in the banner that floats around the piece, and it helps to direct the eye from one section to the next. Shades of orange wrap around blue at the center, gently pulling attention to the character. The juxtapositions of elements are imaginative, making leaves feel like adornments and photographs appear to fade into illustrations. This complex, interesting mass becomes even more layered with the addition of thin, white doodles. Most are abstract, like lines, dots and shapes, but just below the character’s face a doodled hand waves. It’s such a playful touch, a rare moment where it feels like the artist is directly communicating with the viewer.
One Impossible Ring by Rodrigo Leonardo Batista Ferreira (rodrigobhz) brings a famous optical illusion into the world of Lord of the Rings, and it’s a pairing that really works. What’s great about this mix is that the ring is such a strange, powerful object- it makes perfect sense to represent it in a way where it can’t possibly be real. It imbues the ring with a real ambiance of wonder. Because the ring’s form is being tweaked in such a strong way, though, the artist would usually run the risk of having the ring’s LoTR provenance becoming unrecognizable. But clearly that possibility was anticipated, because a subtle map is tucked away in the background. It’s a smart way to give the ring an environment to exist in while forging a stronger connection to the parodied material at the same time.
Ban&a by Brent Schoepf (wowrainbows) was only just barely edged out as my favorite design this week. By keeping things simple, this design is made to feel really iconic. I like that although there is a pun involved, not much emphasis is put on that in the artwork- it’s all about the visual joke of seeing the banana’s familiar shape twisted in this totally unexpected way. The punning stays subtle, only called out in the small lettering on the banana’s blue sticker. Shading is another area this design does really well, taking inspiration from the spots of a banana and using that same texture (only more tightly packed) to call out edges and shadows on the fruit’s curving form.
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).