Archive | threadless

23 January 2008 ~ 0 Comments

Professional-Caliber Submission Images with T-Shirt Textures

T-shirt design contests can be a tough gig- even the best illustration might not speak to the voters unless your submission presentation is just right. And one of the keys to hitting that sweet spot with the voters is to set up an image that accurately represents what your design will look like on a shirt.

There are two major ways to accomplish this: 1) Show the design on a photograph of an actual person, and 2) Use a t-shirt texture to show a close up of how your design will look on a shirt when printed.

Until recently, only really serious designers bothered to use a texture- it can be a hassle to create those, as you have to scan or photograph an actual shirt in just the right lighting conditions. But now Manos, a top Threadless designer, has benevolently provided the community with accurately colored t-shirt textures for all the colors that Threadless offers.

Expect to see a lot of improved t-shirt submission images in the near future as word of this gets out!

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21 January 2008 ~ 0 Comments

New Shirt Monday at Threadless

We Are Just Pixels After All by Malo Tocquer (shkmalo) is my Threadless pick of the week. This design does one of my favorite things- it works differently from different viewing distances. From afar, a nice world map. But close up, and the map explodes into a series of unique pixel drawings. Very neat, and a great one color print. The choice of printing this as a huge side print kicks things up another notch.

ABCs by Aaron Hogg (hogboy) uses the style of a fifties-era children’s book to tell a different kind of story- A and B tell of the good things in life, but C tells of danger. A giant dinosaur, with subtle texture and a pleasant grin, chomps happily on the boy, whose hat flutters uselessly to the ground. What makes this shirt really shine for me is the attention to detail- you can see the apple from A held in the background of B, where the boy chases the ball… right into the dinosaur’s path.

Torso by Matthew Curry is this week’s Select design. It’s an artistic riff on the structure of the torso, with a cool color scheme and a neat, collaged look. Because of how many differently treated elements there are in the composition, it’s a piece that allows you to discover something new every time you look. And it comes with a matching poster, which cracks me up (I’ve never quite grasped the concept of owning the same art in two formats).

I hate Darwin Kick by Ibrahim Dilek. I know that sounds awful, but there’s just a lot here that doesn’t work for me. I hate evolution silhouettes in general, as most sizable t-shirt places have multiple designs using them. And this is just not that clever- the idea of evolution silhouettes interacting has been done, as has the idea of the evolution line ending in violence. It’s tired, and this isn’t even a particularly well-done rendition- I have no idea what’s going on with the kicked fellow’s head, but something is definitely not right.

A Salt And Battery by Emery Greer (TollFree) is a pun shirt, as everyone can plainly see. It is not a particularly attractive shirt (it is a damn salt shaker and battery, so you can’t expect much), so the value of this shirt lies entirely in how funny you find this pun. It is too bad, then, that this isn’t that funny. Here is how a conversation about this shirt would go. “What’s on your shirt?” “A salt and battery.” “Oh.” “You see, there’s a pun…” “No, I get it.” The end, I hope you have enjoyed this play.

Arctic Spa by Matthijs Smit (mtths) is a very funny idea, depicting the arctic spa where polar bears, penguins and eskimos go to chill in an ice cube tray. But while this is a funny idea, it’s not a great shirt. The shape on the shirt is awkward, and overall it reads like an illustration intended for another medium and the repurposed on a shirt without any editing.

Penguins Are My Home by Michael Valadares Ferreira (Bisparulz) shows an eskimo who has literally built a home out of penguins. Surely the most adorable home in that frigid zip code, it also features an icicle antenna. The shading is excellent, making this piece stand ou even among the artist’s other great work.

Freedom Call by Ana Paula Caldas is one of this week’s reprints, and it’s the kind of work that Threadless doesn’t really print much these days. It uses vector objects (some of which, frankly, look like they’re right out of a generic vector pack) to illustrate the concept of the woman being propelled upward. It’s also the kind of work you can get at any number of shirt sites specializing in this type of vector work, so it’s an odd reprint choice for me.

Advisors by Rula Ali (Topper Harley) is a reprint that makes more sense- it’s the best rendition of the theme (an angel and a devil on each shoulder) I’ve ever seen, and it’s the type of shirt that people associate with the Threadless brand. I enjoy the spareness of the illustration- a whole lot gets accomplished with just three colors.

Overall, a pretty typical week. A couple of good shirts and a few truly baffling choices (two penguin designs on light shirts in one week- and right at the tail end of winter?). Here’s to hoping that some cool printing techniques start to roll out in the next few weeks…

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19 January 2008 ~ 0 Comments

Cranium Loves Threadless: Top Three

The Cranium Loves Threadless contest had one of the most open-ended themes I’ve ever seen for one of these: Wow! And some people really capitalized on that freedom to create some unique and interesting shirts.

No More Grey Matter - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

No More Grey Matter by paperball is a buffet of color and cartoon, with strange creatures transforming into other visual elements. At the very bottom of the design, almost lost in all the chaos, is the tiny brain that all these ideas sprung from.

Smoking Kills - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Another favorite of mine is Smoking Kills by eskimokiss. The look of it is complex- a smoking hand pedals a unicycle, with the smokecloud manipulating a raincloud that overflows a bucket. The smokecloud and bucket overflow spell out the shirt’s message. It’s a funny image, and the unique color palette puts this squarely in the top tier of message shirts- though truthfully, I think it would work even better if worn ironically.

Creature Convention - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Creature Convention by secretly robots is so perfectly suited to this contest that I would be genuinely shocked if it didn’t win. As a shirt with pictures of colorful, smiling monsters, it works pretty well. But this shirt is more than that- it also creates a message when folded, with the monsters spelling out Wow!, the competition’s theme.

The upper echelons of this contest included some really fantastic work, though a lot of people struggled with the vague theme. There will almost definitely be a great winner, though I think a more concrete theme might have resulted in more successful shirt designs overall.

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16 January 2008 ~ 0 Comments

Rob and Big Loves Threadless

OK, confession time: I am a huge fan of the show Rob & Big. The size difference between those guys would have me laughing regardless of the other content, and I am a damn sucker for miniature horses as well so this show has pegged me perfectly.

So I’m pleased as punch that they’ve teamed up with one of my favorite t-shirt stores to create the Rob & Big Loves Threadless competition. In this contest, designers are charged with creating a shirt that explores the theme “Let Me Tell You About My Best Friend,” certainly a theme that’s ripe with potential.

Enter before February 15th, 2008 for your shot at the prize package, which includes (in addition to the customary $2,000 cash and $500 gift certificate) an XBox 360 Console with the Rock Band Bundle, a signed DC Board, Rob & Big DVDs, Wonder Showzen Limited Edition Lunchbox DVD package, and the oh so alluring promise of more prizes to come.

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14 January 2008 ~ 1 Comment

New Shirt Monday at Threadless

Mr. Choppy by Aaron Hogg (hogboy) is my favorite shirt this week for a couple of reasons. It’s using Threadless‘s newly available simulated process printing technique, which has allowed the artist to create some really attractive color variations and realistic brush strokes. Mr. Choppy is both adorable and deranged, his differently sized eyes seem to telegraph a world of joyous cartoon violence. The vintaging is another great touch, and makes this stand out even more from the rest of the Threadless catalog.

Between The Eyes by Ron Lewis is this week’s Select shirt, and it’s a good one. The massive skull sports three sets of eyes with neon shades (and causes me to wonder what this dude’s nose would have looked like, dang). From the CMYK color palette to the huge decorative triangles, the design screams with eighties flavor. Definitely a neat shirt, but I’m not sure I see the Select-ness of it- I think something like this would do well in the regular Threadless competition.

Brazilian Spirit by Rodrigo William Rimes Rezende (rwr2) is another favorite of mine this week. True to its title, the colors are very Brazilian. But what really makes this great is the shapes- it’s kind of a deconstructed parrot, with bright, basic loops and flourishes contrasting with the realistically textured torso and head of the bird.

Whale Of A Time by Cookie is one that I don’t really get. Anytime I see a designer use the exact printing limits of the shirt, creating a huge rectangular swath, I always wonder what the thought process was. To me, a more organic shape is always a better direction to take. And I have to admit I’m not very taken with the whale, either- it’s not a particularly interesting shape, and the face is a bit charmless.

Surprise Gift by Jimmy Tan is a gorgeous two-color piece featuring a huge, elaborate bird cage and a fellow perched on the edge of it, with a chirping bird in hand. The cage looks a bit like a majestic temple, and you can read a bit of a story into the fact that the bird is happily chirping outside of it. There’s a black hoodie version of this with some metallic gold ink, and it looks even better. Definitely a cool piece.

Making Work Fun by Mike Sayre (mildish) is a nice, funny piece. The guillotine has a realistic wooden texture, and the clown facade is slightly distressed implying a lot of use. But if you stop to think about it for a second, it no longer works- heads aren’t placed in the guillotine in a way that would cause the cut out to work (the face wouldn’t be pointing correctly). Beyond that, I flat out hate the way it looks on the shirt. On Threadless’s provided product pictures, the girl version looks scrunched beyond recognition and the men’s version looks crooked.

House Salad by Jack Yu (dacat) and Evan Ferstenfeld (FrickenAwesome) is a genius idea, taken to the furthest extreme possible- and I intend that as a huge compliment. The house salad is exactly what it sounds like (a salad with bits of a house scattered about) but the strength of the shirt is in how far the pun is stretched. A container of ranch dressing sits above the plate and the silverware are a pitchfork and shovel. It’s a neat design, and it looks great on the forest green shirt.

I’m Sure I Used To Fit by Aled Lewis (fatheed) and Miss Scarlet in the Hall with a Revolver by Dave Pfluger are the reprints this week. I have to admit that I’m Sure I Used to Fit doesn’t do much for me- maybe it’s because I never owned one of those little cars, or because they’re always seemed fairly flimsy to me. To me, it’s just not an attractive t-shirt image. Miss Scarlet, though, is a shirt I love. There are a lot of neat touches, from the recurring x’s to the use of the gun for the L. My favorite bit is the visual comparison between the lipstick mark and the flower- it’s a great subtle touch.

Overall, this is a pretty typical week for Threadless- a couple I love, several I am indifferent to, and a couple that I flat out don’t understand. I’m glad to see some lower scorers get printed though- it seems like every shirt I really love struggles to top a 2 in the Threadless scoring system.

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08 January 2008 ~ 0 Comments

New Shirt Monday at Threadless

When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth by Brian Walline (thunderpeel) is my favorite this week because the concept has so much appeal- a coalition of all the major dinosaur groups stand in all their military finery, with a backdrop of the globe and the meteor that signals their demise. The audience knows that this is a challenge the group can’t withstand, but when you see the steely determination in their eyes it’s hard not to root for them. The art is quite nice as well, and does a good job of capturing the roughness of dino skin.

The Select design this week is The New City Natural Dancers by Phillip Fivel Nessen. It’s definitely a bold choice, with bright orange costumed characters dancing on a pale green shirt. And I very much like the idea of it- costumes are a tried and true t-shirt standby, and the dancing element gives a lot of opportunity for a variety of exaggerated poses. My hangup is in the proportions of the characters, which just plain make me uncomfortable.

Sock Battle by Kasey Loman (hippiekasey) chronicles the epic rivalry between sock monkey and sock puppet dragon. And while your liking of the design pretty much hinges on whether you’re into the concept or not, there’s some nice texture work as well. I have a hard time with this one, mainly because the placement seems so awkward to me- it fills up an odd proportion of the shirt, with the monkey almost dead center. Meanwhile, the sock puppet dragon almost disappears around the side.

Two Man Enter, One Man Leave by Josh Agerstrand and Jan Avendano (smelly little bear) is notable because the collaborators are both multi-print powerhouses in their own rights (as ladrones/impossiblejosh and funkie fresh). And you can clearly see all that experience at play in this design, which combines a funny concept (a nerd sits atop a gladiator, on the prowl for lunch money) with some really intricate textural detailing- the dripping of the speech bubble is my favorite part.

Be A Panda by Jasmiini Ottelin (jasmintee) is the kind of innovative t-shirt concept Threadless is known for, featuring a panda suit that sits right under the collar and a panda head tucked under one arm. If you’re the type who likes a nice novelty t-shirt design, this is probably one of the most exciting shirt designs printed in a while.

Pair o’ Kings by Vincent Barnhart is a shirt that I like because of the excellent style employed on the cards- the cowboys are appropriately grizzled and they look completely at home in their texture-filled and detail-rich environments. The flourishes in back add to the mood of the piece. But for poker fans, there’s even more to like- the shirt is a riff on the fact that a pair of kings is called two cowboys in slang. Pretty neat!

Hunting by Chow Hon Lam (Flying Mouse) depicts a bird-shaped assemblage of leaves preying upon a helpless bunny. And frankly, this is the kind of design that shirts are made for- a bold shape and concept, with gorgeous detailing to feast your eyes on in a close up. The dimension in the bird is fantastic, and the way the leaves trail off the shape does a good job of guiding the eye around the composition.

Tree Town by Jérémie ROYER (Joe Flip) is the first of this week’s reprints, and it’s a great shirt. The idea that overpopulation has created this metropolitan death star (save for one token tree) is charming and humorous, and the art is nicely done. At the same time, there’s not really anything gained by maintaining this color scheme for this print- I think it would have been neater if they had changed things up and put it on grey or something like that instead. In general, I’d love if they’d have more fun with reprints rather than keeping them the same all the time.

Inside You by Matt Palmer (bananaphone) is totally classic- I love the cheeky text and the burger’s hollow, imploring eyes. The colors scream fast food, and the style has charm to spare.

Overall, this week Threadless printed a really nice selection of shirts. Even the ones I don’t dig have some level of value to them, and I’m pleased as punch that the punny, cutesy stuff was kept to a minimum- these illustrative shirts do a much better job of standing the test of time.

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05 January 2008 ~ 0 Comments

The Secret Handshake Loves Threadless: Top Three

The Secret Handshake Loves Threadless, and I loved three of the entries for this Midnight Movie themed competition. Let’s take a closer look:

Midnight Recordings - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Midnight Recordings by Monkey III described the feeling of watching a midnight movie almost perfectly: the button icons from a VCR blown up huge, a wolf howling at the record button, and the text “just one more time.” It’s a fairly abstract take on the theme, and it makes for a really original shirt. I especially respond to the wolf’s textures and the way they overlap the design’s other elements.

My Kind of Movie - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

My Kind of Movie by farflung is a more literal interpretation of the theme, showing the artist’s idea of a great movie. A large, godzilla-like creature in a painted-on hero costume lays waste to a city, while a nearby plane plaintively asks, “What’s your problem, Kazanski?” The concept is made even more fresh by the stellar execution, which includes some fun paint drippings and textural details.

It's Always Midnight Somewhere - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

It’s Always Midnight Somewhere (also by farflung- that guy really hit it out of the park for this contest) is an immaculately illustrated portrait of a wolfman tenderly embracing his vampire wife. It has the style of an antique movie poster, and I love the way the fade out is handled at the bottom (it looks like the image has been shredded). The color scheme (set on a greenish shirt) keeps the concept from blending in with actual monster movie designs, as does the knowing look on the vampire’s face.

Overall, there was some really nice work for this contest. I was a bit disappointed that so many people seemed to base their shirt designs on the band’s song rather than the stated theme, but some fault for that also lies with Threadless for not rejecting any of those from the contest.

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