80s Playlist by Thomas (Tompe) is my favorite design this week, in part because it’s not quite what I expected. When I first looked at the thumbnail, I saw that bright orange tape on the upper left and assumed that 1) this tape was going to be a Clockwork Orange reference and 2) the other tapes would have pop culture references as well. I was pretty happy to be wrong when I zoomed in! Instead of being just another shirt about old movies and TV shows, this shirt is full of nostalgia for life as it’s actually lived- each tape is lovingly labelled in a way that makes you guess what tunes made the cut, and there’s a fun doodle-y sensibility to the illustrations. There’s also a great mix of tape styles, creating a colorful and eclectic sampling of what music looked like in that era.
WTF!? by Idiot Box (Idiot Box) surprised me when I saw it at Threadless, since this concept has been around for probably at least a decade at this point. Googling WTF MTV shows several, and the only thing this rendition adds to the conversation is a busy geometric pattern. While that’s definitely a choice that cements the art as being very retro 80s, it’s unfortunately not very attractive to my eye (I think it’s the not-very-80s shade of green that makes it land poorly). So for me, this design is a definite miss.
Eaters Gonna Eat by ppmid (ppmid) is based on a pop culture reference that I’m unfamiliar with (I’ve somehow never seen Critters), so I initially mistook it for a really well-groomed Gremlin. So it’s a testament to how well done this piece is that I liked it anyway! It hits just the right note of creepy-cute, and it’s easy to imagine the sheer carnage of that sly, thin mouth attacking the burger. Plus, these guys look kind of like you’d expect an anthropomorphic version of hunger to look- greedy and sneaky, all big eyes and ready to pounce. I’m not sure I like how it sits on the shirt (the print seems a bit small to me?) but the artwork is great.
Totally Rad by Mathiole (mathiole) won Threadless’s 80s challenge, which is right and proper because it is the most 80s thing ever created. It’s impressive how much of 80s style it manages to capture in just one image- a triangle that ties into the era’s geometry fixation, the grid pattern that references the internet, shiny type reminiscent of mirrored sunglasses reflecting back a beach scene, and of course florescent graffiti. If you told me this was a real shirt from back then, I’d believe you. It’s perfect!
Super Tape by Mathiole (mathiole) is a shirt I have conflicted opinions about. At first, Threadless was showing a very small size for the print (about equivalent to showing a VHS tape at actual size) and my thoughts were strongly negative. But now that they’ve updated the print size to the artist’s intention of covering most of the shirt, I’m a lot happier with how it looks. The bigger size helps negate the design’s strongly rectangular shape a bit, and makes it all feel more natural and wearable. And yet, I’m left wondering if it might not have been even better to go a step further- this could have been a really neat all-over print. The t-shirt’s shape is basically a rectangle anyway, right?
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).