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Welcome to Compete-tee-tion! This site tracks all the biggest news in the t-shirt design competition world, from reviews of new releases to information on new contest opportunities.

01 October 2007 ~ 0 Comments

New Shirt Monday at Threadless

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The Select design this week, Away From Home by Ryan Lin (Kojima) is far and away the best of this batch of Threadless shirts. It’s a haunting image, depicting a cold, lonely city and an inviting view of earth looming behind it. To me, this shirt makes me think of the strangeness of space travel and what an odd feeling it must be to miss a place that you can still see outside your window. Gorgeous.

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Allan Faustino’s Runnin’ Rhino was the winner of the PaRappa the Rapper Loves Threadless contest, in which designers came up with shirts that dealt with the theme “I gotta believe!” While this wasn’t one of my pet favorites, it is definitely a solid effort. It’s easy to feel sorry for the poor rhino, eternally running on the treadmill in the hope of becoming a unicorn one day. It’s easily recognizable as a Threadless shirt as well, due to the clean, cartoon-y style (this is the main reason the shirt didn’t stand out to me in the contest, so I guess that’s a bit of a double-edged sword).

Victor Manuel Moral’s Nonsense is a cute take on the idea of holes that go in unlikely directions. It’s definitely good work, but what keeps this from being a favorite of mine is the fact that I’ve seen so many variations on this (my personal favorite was an ostrich). That said, clean simplicity works well on this one, and it’ll probably be very popular.

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Piggy Bank Heist by Jason LaRose is so classic that I kind of can’t believe that the concept hasn’t been done already. It just looks like a shirt that Threadless would have, you know? And, as with Nonsense and Runnin’ Rhino, it is so cutesy and so similar to the prevailing style of the Threadless catalog that it completely fails to catch my interest. It’s not a bad shirt, of course, it’s just part of a style that Threadless is over-saturated with.

Joel Cocks’ An Elephant Never Forgets… TO KILL! is a shirt that is, to me, completely in the shadow of its fantastic title. A great idea that fails to be a great shirt. Part of the problem here is that the style of the drawing overwhelms the detail work- you’d have to get pretty close to the shirt before you’d see that one character is capturing this image with a cell phone camera (and I think that is the funniest part). The other character’s hand isn’t rendered very clearly, so I’m just guessing that he’s pointing. The elephant looks great, but he’s the only visually interesting part of this for me- the man-eating theme of the shirt is just not that nice to look at in comparison, and I feel that the humor element isn’t strong enough to overcome that.

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Time to Babysit by Scott Ferguson has a great concept. Kids and monsters, how can you go wrong with that? *cough* Well, the style doesn’t really appeal to me. The various figures seem lacking in character, and the piece as a whole seems like an attempt to pander to the voters (but hey, it worked!). A lot of people are going to love this one, but I’m not among them. It just feels unfinished somehow.

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First reprint this week is Tim Sutcliffe’s War and Peas. It’s definitely one of Threadless’s more famous shirts, and if cutesy designs need to be sold I’d generally prefer that they were sold as reprints, so that more innovative work could be newly printed. Overall, the design is pretty solid- my only issue is that it’s a little cheesy to actually have the text “War and Peas” in the scene, particularly when the pun is so obvious.

I’m just going to be totally blunt about Tasty Table by Kenny Wheeler: I think it is a terrible, terrible shirt. Again, you have to get very close to the shirt to even figure out what the text says, and from far away it isn’t very good looking- periodic tables have a certain structure to them, and that structure was not built to be eye-pleasing. This would be a great poster, but it is a complete mis-match for the t-shirt medium.

Looking at the week as a whole, I have to say I found this batch to be fairly mediocre. The designs relied on common Threadless styles and concepts instead of stretching and innovating. It’s pretty disappointing that the only shirt I’d even consider buying this week is the Select design.

30 September 2007 ~ 3 Comments

New This Week at Design By Humans

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New week, new shirts at Design By Humans. This is Still Life by ste7en, my favorite of the bunch. It’s a lot of fun and the celebrity likenesses are dead-on, especially cherry Che, which cracks me up. The bright pop-art colors help make this one a must-have.

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Chariots Retired by ianleino is a really clever concept. It definitely sparks the imagination to picture a distant parking lot where all the outdated eighties entertainment vehicles are housed. The vintage water-based print completes the concept nicely.

dwgagner’s The Adventure is a cool vintage look. It inspired some controversy in the comments due to some borrowing from some materials exhibited at the Air and Space Museum. I have no real opinion in either direction- I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to expand on the work of others in this way, but I do think I probably would have been more interested if it was less faithful to the original. As is, it doesn’t catch my interest much.

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keithmore’s There’s Nowhere to Hide is a well-drawn expression of paranoia that takes full advantage of the shirt’s length. In the final product, though, it’s not quite my cup of tea- I preferred the front and back placement, which I think leaves some mystery about the surveillance (it might seem at first that the satellite is benign or that the man is paranoid, but once you see both sides you have a fuller experience of the theme). It’s quality either way I guess, but I’m much less likely to actually purchase this version.

Chaos Came From the Ocean by steven is really amazing- I love all the creatures spouting from the two hands. I also love that the robot is dressed in a pimpish manner for no apparent reason and that his speech bubbles leave no doubt about his intentions. It’s a really great shirt, is what I’m saying. Definitely click on the original submission link while you’re there, because the design improves when you see it close up (I wish close up views were available for all the shirts).

Overall, a pretty good week. Three of the five are shirts that I’d consider buying, which is some very good odds. Also impressive: DBH’s Shirt of the Week is Rapelling Gang, my favorite shirt of last week. Excellent choice!

29 September 2007 ~ 0 Comments

T-Shirt Design Links

A poster at the always-helpful T-ShirtForums.com has posted a huge list of helpful t-shirt design links. It includes places to find fonts, free vector imagery, stock images and more.

As always, if you plan to use any of the linked materials in a commercial design, read the agreement very carefully- not all resources are legal for commercial use.

29 September 2007 ~ 0 Comments

Iron & WIne Loves Threadless: My Top Three

The Iron and Wine Loves Threadless competition ended recently, and I was really glad. For me, this was probably the weakest theme I’ve seen in a Threadless contest (shirts were supposed to be based on the song Boy With a Coin), and it was definitely reflected in the designs that were submitted. But there was still some good work to be found, so here are my top three:

answer is - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Radiomode’s Answer Is looks great- it’s an attractive scene with some decorative flourishes and a kickin color palette. The various elements work to reard the viewer for taking a closer look- the cord of the phone loops through the skull and the bird tweets politely into the tin can.

Boy in the weeds ! - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Boy in the Weeds by stor is flat-out neat, and I fully expect it to be printed (whether as a contest winner or not I cannot say). The weeds are rendered in a way that is both organic and mechanical- despite their precision, they almost seem to sway in the breeze.

A Beard Of Waves - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

JoesephWilliamDesign’s A Beard of Waves is gorgeous. The beardiness compliments the band that this contest is for, and the character work is excellent. There is also a neat intertwining of styles between the linework in the beard, the halftoning of the skin and the floral pattern in the background.

There were other great shirts as well, but those three were far and away my favorites. It was a tough competition for me as a voter- I somehow managed to avoid giving a five to any of the entries in this one. Ouch! In my limited defense, I did give out plenty of fours. But still, it was definitely not a favorite theme for me.

28 September 2007 ~ 0 Comments

Implied Form T-Shirt Design Contest

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The Implied Form T-Shirt Competition is a joint venture between Chixink (a t-shirt store) and Pink Ghost (a store specializing in vinyl toys). The goal is for designers to create a two-color vector file for a shirt design that has the style of both companies.

The winner will get a copy of their winning shirt, $50 Pink Ghost gift certificate, 10 buttons/badges of the winning design, a matted print of the design and a whole mess of notoriety (including including website links from Chixink, Pink Ghost and Implied Form).

If you’re interested in this contest, submit your work before October 20th, 2007.

27 September 2007 ~ 0 Comments

Shirt.Woot Derby #9: City Without Words

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Shirt.Woot‘s 9th Derby will begin tomorrow at noon, with the theme City Without Words. Woot has a couple of limitations for submissions: no words or letters of any kind can be used, and no previously entered designs can be used.

Here’s how the Derby works: Participants can enter their designs any time from Friday at noon until Wednesday at noon. Early submitters have an advantage, because voting is continuous from Friday at noon until Thursday at noon.

Each week, the top three designs (according to Woot member voting) are printed and sold that weekend. There’s been a substantial prize increase, so winners (and those who submit non-derby work directly to Woot) are now set to receive $250 if their shirt sells up to 500 units or a whopping $500 if their shirt sells 501 or more units. The sum of $2 per shirt remains for all shirts sold after the first day, as well, so designers could be looking at quite a windfall.

26 September 2007 ~ 1 Comment

Design By Humans Redesigns

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Design By Humans has redesigned their site, and it is awesome. In addition to a simplified voting system (there’s now only the choice to vote for a print, rather than the previous yes-maybe-no options), the new site offers some cool rankings (you can see which designs have received the most votes that day, and which shirts are selling the most copies). You can also see exactly how many votes a design has received, which is very neat.

Design By Humans is an on-going t-shirt design competition, offering prizes for Shirt of the Day, Shirt of the Week and Shirt of the month. Designers can earn up to $3500 (plus residuals). If you enter, be sure to read up on DBH’s selection of printing techniques- they can enhance your work with treatments like high density ink, gel, and embroidery.