Birdtopia by Santiago Sarquis (metalsan) won Threadless’s Seeing Double challenge, and it’s a beautiful pick. What sets this design apart from most other silhouette-enclosed pieces is the realism involved. Instead of just looking like flat shapes, each layer within the bird’s form has a detail and roughness to it that makes it feel authentically like the landscape it represents. Using the flock of birds to break free from the form is a smart move as well, as it helps inject some movement into the scene and make it feel more dynamic. And of course, the biggest change from the silhouette style norm is that this bird shape isn’t quite a silhouette- the head, the feet, and part of the branch are all fully realized so precisely they could almost be a photograph. Looking at this design, it really feels like you’re seeing this bird at two moments in time, both at rest and in flight among its flock.
Explosion by zinn (azizaninn) only needs one ink color to tell its tale of mass destruction. Instead of color, it creates a moment heavy in contrast and impactful size, allowing the highest puffs of the mushroom cloud to claim the shoulders while a silhouetted human figure stands in the center of it all at the bottom hem. You get the sense from his position and fist-clenched posture that this character probably created the explosion, but the heavy leftward lean of the cloud’s spire makes it clear that this was a wild pop of power, not something intended or controlled. It’s a memorable shirt.
Find Your Exit by Mathiole (mathiole) uses a graffiti style to create a surreal scene. A young boy in shades of grey uses colorful chalk to draw a bright window, presumably to escape the doldrums of his monotone existence. But in drawing this other world, something amazing happens- three birds appear. Because of how high they are on the canvas, we know the boy didn’t draw them (he already has to stand on his toes just to reach the window’s top edges). But are they more refugees from the boy’s grey world or, amazingly, have they actually flown in from the place he created? That ambiguity is what makes this design special, the question of whether he was inspired by the birds to make something beautiful or if his creation is what allowed the birds to congregate.
Vive tu Vida (Live Your Life) by Allyson (zelally) is a nice mix of watercolor and typography. The use of watercolor in the background allows each simple floral shape to become more complex, packed with texture and subtle color shifts. Since (at least to my eye) none of the silhouettes feel specific to real flowers and the colors are bright and varied, I feel like I’m looking at a tropical bouquet. That pairs well with the adventurous message of the text. I like that the “live” portion of the phrase is given a loose, scripted font (implying freedom and excitement) while the “life” portion is much more solid, almost architectural in its strength and grounding. Those two styles both represent different aspects of how the slogan might play out, and by showing both the message feels deeper.
Swim the Sea by Jacy Corral (hyssopdesign) uses a great quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson. While it’s wonderfully worded and a popular, relatable sentiment, my fear with the text is that since there’s so much of it and it’s all expressed in the same way (and in an unfamiliar, scripted way rather than plain text), it’s not the kind of design most viewers will immediately take a shine to. That said, the photograph filling out those letters is a great moment for those who give it a chance, revealing a magnificent curl of blue wave that highlights the word Sea.