09 March 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Threadless: New this week

Lonely Man by Draco (DracoImagem.com) stands out to me as the best of the week. Like a country song from the future, this spaceman is perched on an asteroid and utterly, poignantly alone. Although he strums his guitar, it’s for an audience of zero- everyone knows that in space, no one can hear you sing. I think the astronaut’s pose is what really sells the concept- though we can’t see his face, it’s still easy to read sincerity and sorrow into the stance he holds. Gems and stars send off little reflections like spotlights, and even without fans or a crowd a star is born. I like the quiet, introspective feel of the concept, and the artwork is incredibly well-rendered.

Snakes are just tails with faces by Rene Omenzetter (ommi) is one of those rare Type Tees that is both original and fun. I’d never heard the phrase before, and it’s one of those comments that is so obvious yet strange that it kind of blows your mind, just a little bit. The word “snakes” itself is natural curvy and made to look like a snake, but in a good decision by the artist the emphasis is more on readability than on making the snake’s coiling realistic. Conceptually, it’s a coup for the design that it works both for those who love and hate snakes- its tail-like nature can be either a marvel or proof of its inherent creepiness. This makes it a shirt worth considering for anyone who has strong feelings about snakes.

Kraken Snackin’ by Ross Zietz (arzie13) is a moody scene that pits pirates against a sea monster- with pirates hopelessly outmatched. The sinking ship, the sea and the sky are all shown as Asphalt, the shirt color, which gives the viewer the immediate sense of isolation, darkness, and hopelessness. The pirate’s struggle is highlighted by a huge moon, but even though some jump to escape (and in a neat detail, you can even see a parrot hastily departing) there’s just nowhere to escape to. They’ve lost, already a part of the sea and soon to be indistinguishable from it. Meanwhile, the kraken’s tentacles explode on the scene like a mutant. They’re bright red, breaking away from the landscape’s otherwise sparse colors. And while the ship has a surprising amount of detail for a silhouette (rigging and individual lines, plus the skull detail), the tentacles are a solid-colored blank slate. It’s an effective technique and definitely contributes to the kraken feeling like a shocking interloper, but I have to admit that I’d have loved to see some more detail in those tentacles. Right now they’re a bit floppy and formless for my tastes (especially the one on the far left), and I think the fear created by the monster might have been more potent if it looked more real.

Crayon Role Reversal No. 147 by Nick Roberts (nikoby) has a title that kind of surprised me, because I wasn’t aware that it was a joke that had been done many times before. I’m not sure I’ve seen it previously, and I’d be tempted to call it one of the more original concepts that printed this week. At any rate, I think the illustration really nails the idea. The human is awkwardly flailing and realistic, while the crayon is terrifyingly serene and sports a cloyingly bland smile. It’s a bit robotic, and carries a similar terror that robot-themed pieces evoke- what would happen if the objects we used treated us the same way? I’m surprised not to see children’s sizes, but maybe they just didn’t want to give the kids any ideas.

Owls, Trees and Keys by Brandon Michael Thomas (BrandonMichael) isn’t bad exactly, but it’s so bland that I have a hard time getting excited about it either way. I mean, the tree itself is nice enough, because it branches out at an interesting angle. But the owl and keys feel like they’re drawn in the least interesting way possible. I mean, the cool thing about keys is that they’re all different shapes and can be quite ornate. But here, we see them too small to be distinguishable and hanging from long, identical strings. And I’m almost always in favor of owls, but showing one motionless in silhouette has got to be the least inspiring way to add it. I like designs with personality and story, and I’m just not seeing any of that here.

Vultures by lucas de alcantara (tolagunestro) definitely caught my eye because of the way it shows the darker side of fantasy. Everything dies eventually, so that must also be true of unicorns. And in a land without creepy vultures, who picks up the slack? Of course it’s the parrots, with their bright plumage that matches the unicorn’s rainbow gore. It makes a twisted kind of sense. The artwork is realistic and well-styled, though I admit to being a bit let down by how pale the colors are. While the softness is a nice contrast to the horror of the scene, I think brighter, more saturated colors would catch the eye better and magnify the absurdity.

The Headless Samurai by Gerrel Saunders (Gaks Designs) is a really weird shirt to me because the twist doesn’t feel like a twist. It’s a side profile of a samurai, totally normal except the face isn’t there. To me, it’s not spooky or mysterious- it just looks like someone forgot to draw in the head. I think this is because of the absence of other cues- I feel like there should be other tip offs in the design (or at least color and stance implying something), because as-is, this design doesn’t feel evocative. What is there is well-drawn, I just want more. Some hint of a story. Something.

Supernature in the City of Poison Syrup and Hope Candy by Ben Foot (B 7) has a title that tells you exactly what to expect- some crazy, crazy drawings! Zany characters fill the print, with objects and word bubbles interspersed. I’d liken it to the kind of collage-y street art look that Wotto specializes in, but done in a completely different style. I wish the art was a bit longer to fill the tee more effectively, but it still works well as a print. But since it’s all style, no direct concept, this is the sort of shirt that’s going to exclusively appeal to fans of that (very specific) style. I like the uniqueness of the art, so I hope it’s a decently sized group!

Urban Oscillations by Inaki Gonzalez (kako64) is a bit of a weird print to me, because it’s style over concept… but done in a style we’ve seen done better in other prints (I’m thinking specifically of Electric Sky). I don’t know. To me, while it’s not a bad design, it’s also not exceptional in any way. I’m not feeling newness, and it doesn’t pull me in. It’s a very anonymous sort of city, and tough for me to relate to because I strongly prefer the specific to the generic.

Recessionopoly by Carlos Rocafort IV (Mr-R) takes the board game into this broken economy, booting the Monopoly mman from Boardwalk to a cardboard box. It’s a great political cartoon for sure, in part because it’s so nicely drawn and also because its real estate connection has strong ties to reality. When a shirt has a negative theme like this, I always wonder who would actually buy it (no matter what your politics, shirts about homelessness are a difficult sell). But in this case, I think the artist found a great loophole- people connect so strongly to their Monopoly playing piece of choice, and by placing them all in important places in the scene, everyone’s memories will be jogged (even Iron fans, who will probably note how completely useless their piece is because seriously it’s the worst one). It’s a joy to see art so complete, both in thought and execution.

Threadless prints new shirts every week, chosen from the designs submitted by and voted on by site members. Winners get $2000 cash and $500 in Threadless credit, with the possibility to earn more through Bestee awards, poster prints, and reprints.

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