Ahmratep the Lost by Brandon Page (ProfessorBrandon) is my favorite Threadless design this week. All of this week’s new releases are from the Court of the Dead challenge, so they’re all operating within a universe I don’t know much about. But what caught my eye with this piece wasn’t the subject matter, it was the interesting angles. I’m very drawn to the way the flow of the scythe highlights the extreme curve of the character’s back, and the way his hunched posture helps the viewer to imagine an awkward, loping gait as it moves. The lighting is also skillfully done, adding drama to the scene because of the use of a heavily melted candle and using that light to highlight the creature’s grotesque face and adornments. Plus, by lighting the scene with candlelight, the artist avoids distracting from the character with a background, but still manages to imply that there’s a world surrounding this guy in the darkness.
Spite of the Valkyrie by John Tibbott (quick-brown-fox) might be the week’s most wearable design, since it has some neat visuals, a smaller print, and doesn’t require any knowledge of the lore to be appreciated. I like the contrast of the piece, pairing a skull with massive battle-damaged horns with the smooth face of a beautiful young woman. It feels like it’s about two kinds of power, the brutal, physical kind and also pure cunning and ambition. The cool turquoise glow of the woman’s eyes communicate menace and magic, setting her up as a villain. Even the small background glimpsed in the circle behind her head is interesting- a series of glowing orbs that looks a bit like seeing fireworks through raindrops on a window.
Spirit, Flesh, and Bone by Wagner Nogueira (wagnogueira) has a really appealing, almost architectural, structure that draws me into the piece. A cemetery gate motif plays out in hot pink, searing the eye. And from that scaffolding, the artist uses a cool, ghostly blue to stack up a ghoulish team of enemies, all supporting the giant, skeletal being at the center. I like the way his midsection could almost be mistaken as a tower at first glance, which imbues him with more power once you realize he’s only bone and armor. There’s also an ornate quality to his outfitting that makes him feel ancient, like a creature from before time risen out of some graveyard time forgot. Very strong on ambiance.
Malavestros the Lowest of the Low by Reyhan (Reyhanz) is an evil dude who looks somewhere between a jester, a clown, and an evil sorcerer. A couple of choices go a long way towards making the design work. One is the interesting, washed-out look of the colors- it ages the character nicely and makes him feel like someone who would have been flamboyantly colored in his heyday, but is so ancient that his once-bright colors have faded away. It leaves open the question of what else might have faded, and the creepy grin on his face suggests it might be his humanity. His seated posture is also a cool choice, giving him a playful spirit like a kid hunched over a coloring book on the floor. That child-like quality gives a special flavor to his menace, implies there might be something funny or even experimental about the specific way he enacts his will. And finally, I like that we’re not just seeing the character pose, we’re seeing him in action- the presence of the scroll on the ground and the colored wispy orbs in his hands make it clear that he’s actively casting a spell as we watch. That creates a real sense of “what happens next” that always makes art more engaging to me for creating a moment rather than just a look.
Oglavaeil the Executioner by Nicholas Wolf (NW_Studios) won Threadless’s Court of the Dead challenge. The main thing I like about this one is the way everything seems to swirl a bit around that blue circle in the background. When you get closer, the swirl seems to be made of a series of skeletal faces with long hair that bite each other’s manes to form the circle. It’s a strange bit of imagery and I appreciate it for being novel, but it’s also so strange that it makes me wonder if this is something from the Court of the Dead lore. I mean, what are they doing? Are they forming a portal to somewhere? Is it a weird ghostly dance? I have a lot of questions, and the art doesn’t answer them. That said, it’s neat to see the curve of the sword, the ebb of the robes, and the curve of the executioner’s back echo the shape of the circle. There’s some cool things happening, I just feel that I might need to be more acquainted with the series to properly appreciate 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).