Archive | threadless

22 October 2007 ~ 0 Comments

New Shirt Monday at Threadless

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My favorite shirt at Threadless this week is unquestionably New World Order by Tony Aguero. The robot conquering the city collage is really fresh and the color palette is on point. The design works at several distances, which makes it a great fit for the shirt medium (I like the text that’s visible in closeup, and the overall form looks wicked from far away as well). It’s overcoming the handicap of a cream colored shirt quite well, and I’d consider a buy on this one.

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The Gmail Loves Threadless winner was also announced this week: Hello, Dave by Robert Gould. I’ll be honest, this was not a favorite of mine. Since Google is such a computery thing, I would have preferred a winner that went in a less technological direction with the “Connect” theme. Still, the illustration is well done, the color scheme is nice, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better-looking shirt with a giant old school computer on it. So if that’s your thing, have at it.

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The Future Is Feeling by Neil Doshi is the Select for this week. There’s a lot to like: the front and back of the head are on the front and back of the shirt (awesome!), there are neat textures in the hair (whee!), and it even comes with a free headband (hooray!). But as with some of the other recent Selects, I wish there was more to set it apart from other Threadless shirts. I wish they’d experiment more with printing techniques, stepping up to the new standard set by Design by Humans.

Where the Watermelons Grow by Brian Walline is based on the song Down By the Bay (lyrics are also printed on the shirt). In the interest of full disclosure, I have always hated that song. Perhaps because of that fact, this shirt is not a favorite of mine. The bright, cartoony style of the drawing echoes the theme nicely, though, and people who are fans of that song (everyone in the world except me, apparently) have a cute shirt to call their own.

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Good Guys Don’t Glow at Midnight by Ivan Leonardo Vera Pineros uses glow in the dark ink on a group of bad guys, and regular ink on the lone good guy, a fairy. If that sounds like a good concept to you, you are a fan of this shirt. I’m… kind of in the other camp on this one. I don’t really get why only bad guys would glow- to me, a fairy is more prone to glowing than any of the other beings featured. And while I typically enjoy icons, the ones in this design don’t speak to me. Horror fans probably feel differently.

Fall_ing by Christopher Garcia depicts leaves with grasping hands at the ends of their stems, letting go of the branch to fall to the ground. While I didn’t dig this one in voting, seeing it on a shirt improved it for me. I think it works well as a nature shirt with a subtle twist- the hands are only visible up close, so most viewers aren’t privy to the secret.

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The first reprint of the week is Foxy by Lixin Wang, and I think it’s a worthy reprint. My usual complaint on reprints is that the color scheme should at least change a bit, but since this design wouldn’t work on any other color it escapes that criticism.

Ditto for Star Men in Moon’s Milk by Christopher Buchholz. A fun concept that’s not quite like any other shirt out there. Clever and gorgeous.

Overall, I’m not too keen on this crop of shirts. While I wouldn’t call any of them poorly done, they’re simply not unique enough to stand out from the t-shirt offerings of other companies. And while that might be fine for those other businesses, I expect more from Threadless because they have access to some of the best t-shirt design talent in the world. Given that fact, they should be able to put out an innovative and high-quality selection of shirts every week. For me, this week was simply not up to par.

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17 October 2007 ~ 0 Comments

Matthew Dear Loves Threadless

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There’s a new Loves Threadless competition underway, centered around the theme “Good to be Alive.” Matthew Dear, some sort of electronic musician person, is the sponsor of this one (I have never heard of that dude, but he has good taste in t-shirt stores I guess).

The prize package is sweet: in addition to the usual Threadless prize of $2000 cash and a $500 gift certificate, the winner will be getting a Traktor Scratch professional DJ system, a signed cd and a collection of Ghostly International cds.

Designs should be entered before November 16th, 2007.

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15 October 2007 ~ 0 Comments

New Shirt Monday at Threadless

Note to all potential Threadless hoody purchasers: Threadless is having a 24 hour sale on all hoodies tomorrow (Tuesday), so you’ll be able to get any hooded sweatshirt for just $25 (a much better deal than the typical $40 cost).

Now, on to the new shirts…

Justified and Amplified by Mike Harding centers around a great concept- a nun plugs in her acoustic guitar into a wall of amps. Hello, Vatican! The art is restrained, letting the nun take center stage, with bright orange cords to add interest. It’s a great piece.

November Was a Good Month by Mike Sayre (mildish) is graphically well-done. It looks like what it is supposed to. This is the most positive I can be about this shirt, because I think conceptually it’s pretty lame. I get that it’s a play on how both people and books can get checked out, but it’s just not very funny. Even worse, having a boring checkout card floating in the middle of a shirt is deeply unattractive. To me, this one is not even close to the Threadless standard.

The Greatest Connection by Melanie Hudson (melh696), on the other hand, is exactly what Threadless does best. It’s a unique (and amusing) concept, drawn up with tons of style and personality. I like that, while similar, the girls aren’t exactly identical. The intersecting of the hair also adds a lot to the design.

Playground Joust by Jillian Nickell is, to be frank, the kind of shirt that I wish Threadless would stop printing. While the illustration is very nicely done (and I’ve certainly appreciated other designs by this artist), the concept feels so played out to me that I can’t really support it. It feels more like an old magazine illustration than a current t-shirt, which is not helped by the fact that I haven’t seen one of those bouncy horses in over a decade.

Viking Bird by Graham Shepard (Tonteau) is totally sweet. I love the personality that the bird’s lines imbue him with, from the tilt on his little hat to the grim determination depicted in his sharply angled wing. The spears overhead and the choppy waters beneath set the scene, and the large print adds to the drama. It’s a slam dunk, easily my second favorite of the week.

My Rules by Christian Einshøj (splatkunst.dk) is a Rock, Paper, Scissors shirt. That’s pretty much all that needs to be said. The joke is okay, but you have to be really close to even read it. It’s just not a good fit for the t-shirt medium, in my opinion.

Royal Intrigued Series 1 by Chalermphol Harnchakkham (huebucket) is this week’s Select. While I enjoy the artistry and concept, I expect more from Selects- where are the specialty inks? the mixed media? the unique printing techniques? It’s a great drawing, but as I look at it all I can think is that at Design By Humans, there would have been actual pockets stitched in. Maybe Series 2 could go there instead?

Adultery by Jean-sébastien Deheeger (nes-k) was reprinted this week. It’s a neat, easy to grasp concept drawn in an interesting style. While I’m not big on reprints in general, this is a solid shirt.

If You Can Read This Make Me a Sandwich by Anthony Mihovich was the reprinted slogan this week, and I’m not a fan. The slogan itself is alright, but it’s been done better (I’m referring to Seibei’s Sandwich Dinosaur). Beyond that, I don’t understand the logic of reprinting slogans- the prize for a winning slogan is only $200, so to me it makes more sense to just print new slogans every time (given the high number of quality unprinted slogans).

Overall, I don’t think this was a great week for Threadless. I disliked about half of the new shirts, which might be some kind of a record. Still, there were a few gems. Hopefully next week will be better.

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08 October 2007 ~ 0 Comments

New Shirt Monday at Threadless

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I had a hard time picking a favorite new Threadless shirt this week (so many great ones!), but in the end it had to be Derby of the Damned by Leon Ryan (d3d). It’s a fun mash-up of two popular ideas (roller derby and zombies), and the pinks really pop on the dark grey shirt.

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When I was a Pumpkin by Jeff Tuininga (tuniguts) is really expertly put together- from the dripping wax to the trick-or-treaters in the background, everything is rendered well. Additionally, it’s a cool twist on a type of shirt that’s been done before. Instead of the typical view of a jack-o-lantern, we’re peering at the world from inside the pumpkin. It all sounds like the recipe for a great shirt, but unfortunately the subject matter limits the possibilities on this one- while costumes, zombies and skeletons are concepts that can be work year round, carved pumpkins are too strongly associated with Halloween to make that leap. It’s basically a shirt for one day (or maybe one month, if you celebrate early and often).

The Revenge by Black Rock Collective (aka Legion of Doom) is totally sweet- it’s a piece that is a mash-up of drawings by many of the group’s members, much like their recent win Robot Attack at Design By Humans. Three mash-ups were submitted, and I’m glad that my favorite of the bunch got printed. Oh, and this finally cleared up some confusion for me on Black Rock and Legion of Doom- I’ve been wondering for awhile i they were two groups with a lot of overlap or two independent groups, so I’m glad to finally have an answer on that.

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Transfarmers by Ole Ivar Rudi (OlliRudi) deftly mixes eighties nostalgia and traditional country living. At first the idea of mixing giant transforming robots with the farm setting is a bit terrifying- I picture huge, brooding, metal beasts that work not only from sun up to sun down, but all hours of the day and night to create substances that they will never taste. But then I recalled hearing that agriculture is often one of the first places to see new technology in use (due to competition and low profit margins), so maybe robots on farms isn’t that impossible.

Impatient by Clayton Dixon (Pee Pee) depicts a tooth fairy who has grown tired of waiting for the tooth to fall out and has taken matters into her own tiny hands- with a huge pair of pliers. I’m not in love with the concept, but the way this uses the space of the shirt is fantastic. It’s a great illustration as well, I think the way the metal of the pliers is shown raised the quality level on this one.

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How sweet is Heavy Metal Listening Party by Ed Pincombe (Edword)? I will answer that for you, it is the most sweet possible. Nothing but hands, mouths, lightning and a huge mass of hair, I can’t picture a more accurate visual of heavy metal. This was also a very serious contender for my favorite shirt this week.

Hide and Sheep by Steven E. Hughes (Castle) is a shirt that really rewards the viewer. While a casual observer might just notice the cute sheep, a deeper look reveals wolves hidden everywhere (including the clouds, trees, and the herd itself). The sheep have started to catch on as well, and their facial expressions telegraph a sense of impending doom.

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This week’s Select is The Seeker by Maxwell Holyoke-Hirsch. I love the drawing style and color palette, but the structure (a triangle) and contents (tree, bird, star and heart imagery) really gives me the impression of winter holidays. This may be my own weird issue, but it would prevent a buy for me. I’m not huge on white shirts, either, but because I’m a fan of the drawing style I wish this guy would get another crack at doing a shirt. There’s definite shirt potential there, even if this shirt isn’t all I’d like it to be.

Imposter by Aaron Hogg (hogboy) is the perfect Halloween reprint. It has it all- a great visual joke, fun dancing skeletons, and most importantly it GLOWS IN THE DARK. Good stuff.

Overall, this was a kick ass selection of new shirts, easily redeeming the awfulness of last week. I had three major contenders for my favorite this week, and four total shirts that I’d consider buying. Pretty nice odds.

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05 October 2007 ~ 4 Comments

Inspiration vs. Plagiarism

T-shirt contest sites are always plagued by unoriginal work, it can be a nasty side effect of the voting process (which asks the public to rate their favorites, sometimes leading to a mediocre focus group-style result). But it is worth the aggravation of seeing endless penguin, pirate and pun designs to see truly great, artistic works beat the odds and get printed.

So it’s a real shame when those original works turn out to be heavily based on the work of other artists.

Exhibit A in this debate is The Magical Zipper to Weiner Man Land by John Barthell. Soon after it was printed, a fan of artist Spencer Hibert realized that it was heavily based on a Hibert painting. Not only that, others soon noticed that the hand itself appeared to be traced directly from the painting:

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Is borrowing a theme from a painting (and using a traced element of that painting) plagiarism? The debate rages on in the forums, as many believe that the styles of the art involved are divergent enough to qualify as independent works. Threadless, meanwhile, is taking no chances- The Magical Zipper to Weiner Man Land has been removed from the Threadless catalog.

Exhibit B in the debate is What’s Yo Flava? by Fabio Girardi (and a number of other illustrations by this artist). After his work was published in Ideafiza magazine, friends of artist Audrey Kawasaki noticed some very striking similarities:

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As you can see, not only is the style modified from Kawasaki’s original paintings, there is a strong enough similarity between facial structures that many believe tracing was involved. Girardi denies tracing images, but admits to being inspired by Kawasaki. For her part, friends of Kawasaki have stated that she isn’t interested in pursuing legal action, as she feels the art is dissimilar enough. Perhaps motivated by Kawasaki’s attitude about the situation, What’s Yo Flava remains available for purchase at Camiseteria at this time.

In both examples A and B, some very talented artists created work that borrowed heavily from others in their field. Each person who looks at these examples will probably have a different take on what constitutes plagiarism and what is merely inspired by other works. The real tragedy is that two artists who are capable of some really amazing work will now always have people wondering how much is original and how much is borrowed.

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01 October 2007 ~ 0 Comments

New Shirt Monday at Threadless

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The Select design this week, Away From Home by Ryan Lin (Kojima) is far and away the best of this batch of Threadless shirts. It’s a haunting image, depicting a cold, lonely city and an inviting view of earth looming behind it. To me, this shirt makes me think of the strangeness of space travel and what an odd feeling it must be to miss a place that you can still see outside your window. Gorgeous.

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Allan Faustino’s Runnin’ Rhino was the winner of the PaRappa the Rapper Loves Threadless contest, in which designers came up with shirts that dealt with the theme “I gotta believe!” While this wasn’t one of my pet favorites, it is definitely a solid effort. It’s easy to feel sorry for the poor rhino, eternally running on the treadmill in the hope of becoming a unicorn one day. It’s easily recognizable as a Threadless shirt as well, due to the clean, cartoon-y style (this is the main reason the shirt didn’t stand out to me in the contest, so I guess that’s a bit of a double-edged sword).

Victor Manuel Moral’s Nonsense is a cute take on the idea of holes that go in unlikely directions. It’s definitely good work, but what keeps this from being a favorite of mine is the fact that I’ve seen so many variations on this (my personal favorite was an ostrich). That said, clean simplicity works well on this one, and it’ll probably be very popular.

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Piggy Bank Heist by Jason LaRose is so classic that I kind of can’t believe that the concept hasn’t been done already. It just looks like a shirt that Threadless would have, you know? And, as with Nonsense and Runnin’ Rhino, it is so cutesy and so similar to the prevailing style of the Threadless catalog that it completely fails to catch my interest. It’s not a bad shirt, of course, it’s just part of a style that Threadless is over-saturated with.

Joel Cocks’ An Elephant Never Forgets… TO KILL! is a shirt that is, to me, completely in the shadow of its fantastic title. A great idea that fails to be a great shirt. Part of the problem here is that the style of the drawing overwhelms the detail work- you’d have to get pretty close to the shirt before you’d see that one character is capturing this image with a cell phone camera (and I think that is the funniest part). The other character’s hand isn’t rendered very clearly, so I’m just guessing that he’s pointing. The elephant looks great, but he’s the only visually interesting part of this for me- the man-eating theme of the shirt is just not that nice to look at in comparison, and I feel that the humor element isn’t strong enough to overcome that.

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Time to Babysit by Scott Ferguson has a great concept. Kids and monsters, how can you go wrong with that? *cough* Well, the style doesn’t really appeal to me. The various figures seem lacking in character, and the piece as a whole seems like an attempt to pander to the voters (but hey, it worked!). A lot of people are going to love this one, but I’m not among them. It just feels unfinished somehow.

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First reprint this week is Tim Sutcliffe’s War and Peas. It’s definitely one of Threadless’s more famous shirts, and if cutesy designs need to be sold I’d generally prefer that they were sold as reprints, so that more innovative work could be newly printed. Overall, the design is pretty solid- my only issue is that it’s a little cheesy to actually have the text “War and Peas” in the scene, particularly when the pun is so obvious.

I’m just going to be totally blunt about Tasty Table by Kenny Wheeler: I think it is a terrible, terrible shirt. Again, you have to get very close to the shirt to even figure out what the text says, and from far away it isn’t very good looking- periodic tables have a certain structure to them, and that structure was not built to be eye-pleasing. This would be a great poster, but it is a complete mis-match for the t-shirt medium.

Looking at the week as a whole, I have to say I found this batch to be fairly mediocre. The designs relied on common Threadless styles and concepts instead of stretching and innovating. It’s pretty disappointing that the only shirt I’d even consider buying this week is the Select design.

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29 September 2007 ~ 0 Comments

Iron & WIne Loves Threadless: My Top Three

The Iron and Wine Loves Threadless competition ended recently, and I was really glad. For me, this was probably the weakest theme I’ve seen in a Threadless contest (shirts were supposed to be based on the song Boy With a Coin), and it was definitely reflected in the designs that were submitted. But there was still some good work to be found, so here are my top three:

answer is - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Radiomode’s Answer Is looks great- it’s an attractive scene with some decorative flourishes and a kickin color palette. The various elements work to reard the viewer for taking a closer look- the cord of the phone loops through the skull and the bird tweets politely into the tin can.

Boy in the weeds ! - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Boy in the Weeds by stor is flat-out neat, and I fully expect it to be printed (whether as a contest winner or not I cannot say). The weeds are rendered in a way that is both organic and mechanical- despite their precision, they almost seem to sway in the breeze.

A Beard Of Waves - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

JoesephWilliamDesign’s A Beard of Waves is gorgeous. The beardiness compliments the band that this contest is for, and the character work is excellent. There is also a neat intertwining of styles between the linework in the beard, the halftoning of the skin and the floral pattern in the background.

There were other great shirts as well, but those three were far and away my favorites. It was a tough competition for me as a voter- I somehow managed to avoid giving a five to any of the entries in this one. Ouch! In my limited defense, I did give out plenty of fours. But still, it was definitely not a favorite theme for me.

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