07 December 2017 ~ 0 Comments

Threadless’s The Great Ramen Off Kanagawa

The Great Ramen Off Kanagawa by Ilustrata (Ilustrata) is my favorite Threadless print this week. It’s a design I’ve enjoyed a lot when I’ve seen it on other sites, so I’m happy to see it added to the Threadless catalog. What’s great about this design is the way that, while it’s clearly inspired by The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, it just uses that famous piece as a launching point for a much more elaborate and individual illustration. This is in stark contrast to the bulk of Kanagawa-inspired pieces, which tend to hone close to the original and just add smaller elements. But here the star of the shirt is unquestionably the artist’s imaginative ramen monster creation, a king of edible Godzilla that wields its noodles like tentacles as it attacks unsuspecting nearby boats. The pure chaos of the scene draws you in, leaving the viewer to examine each crashing wave for more details in the action-packed story. If you like ramen, Japan, or monster movies, odds are you like this. And if you like all three, say hello to your new favorite shirt.

See You When the Night Falls… by Claudia Santos (clsantos82) uses just one ink color to tell a very charming story, a kind of just-so tale to explain why whales leap out of the ocean. In this design, they’re just trying to reunite with their pal the moon for a giant hug. It’s an appealing concept, and the heartwarming feel of the idea is conveyed clearly through the bold cartoon shapes used, especially the moon’s awkward stubby arms. I’m also impressed by the way the whale is allowed to fade back into the shirt color and the smooth ooze of the moon’s reflection on water, both of which increase the sophistication of the piece.

Science Over Silence by aparaat (aparaat) keeps things simple with a text treatment of an idea that ought to appeal to most people. The idea of valuing science and fact and proclaiming them loudly is very timely. A problem that this design runs into, though, is that when you’re keeping things this basic there’s not a lot of room for mistakes- every misstep is highly visible. And for me, the choice to have the EN pushed to the right to make room for the spraypainted I is a significant fault. The concept reads clearer if all rows of text align at the left, making it look as though SILENCE was the intended word. With that change made, the sprayed I could still be placed to the left of that row, or could even be paired with the C above. As shown currently, the message is muddied because it is so evident that SCIENCE was the intended text all along.

Coffee Makes My Day by Jesse (jessemakes) draws from the ubiquitous Thank You plastic bag graphic to create an ode to the beverage most workers want to thank. The repetition of the word coffee feels right, both like the intensity of too much caffeine and the habit of a tired person to chase just one more cup (and then a few more). The only slight quibble I have with this design is that I think the C used isn’t quite ideal- the angle created by the way the C ends isn’t in the other letters, and starts to feel like a focal point because of all the repetition. I’d have preferred to see the C end with straight horizontals, echoing the strong horizontal lines of the Fs and Es. That said, it’s a very minor complaint and I doubt most viewers will be bothered by it.

Have a Nice Day! by Vó Maria (vo maria) looks at first glance like a friendly retro design, but it doesn’t take more than a second or so to see that there’s more to the story. The profanity in the text is echoed in the sheer gleeful annoyance of the could’s expression, and I love the way his obscene hand gestures seem to spawn a roughly marker scrawled rainbow. It all combines to channel a very relatable amount of frustration, a kind of explosion of not giving a shit. Everyone has days like this, and it’s nice that now there’s a shirt for it.

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).

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