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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.

20 November 2007 ~ 0 Comments

Secret Handshake, Cranium: They Love Threadless

Two new Loves Threadless competitions were posted during the $10 sale madness yesterday, here’s a closer look at each:

The Secret Handshake are a band with a new song called Midnight Movie, which is the theme for this contest. There’s a whole pack of prizes on this one, including a Pure Digital Flip Video Ultra Series camcorder, a Sonic Impact Video55 iPod video player, a signed CD and poster, and (most excellently) a years supply of Orville Redenbacher popcorn and Nestle candy. All that is, of course, in addition to the traditional Threadless prize of $2000 cash and a $500 gift certificate. Entries should be submitted by December 19th, 2007 to qualify for the prize.

Cranium is releasing a new edition of their board game, titled Cranium Wow, and to celebrate they’re sponsoring a Threadless competition. The theme is “Wow! (as in wow the judges),” which is hilariously specific (and probably a move to avoid the piles of submissions using the word wow as literal text on the shirt, though I’m sure that will happen anyway). And of course, there are some pretty neat prizes at stake: a signed Cranium WOW game, a signed, limited run 6″ vinyl WOW mover sculpture (valued at $1,000- and I’d love to know how they came up with that number, seriously), a full set of designer movers, unspecified Cranium swag, and of course the standard $2000 cash and $500 gift certificate. Submit before December 19th, 2007 for a shot at the prize.

19 November 2007 ~ 4 Comments

New Shirts, $10 Sale at Threadless

Threadless has begun another of their famed $10 sales, and to celebrate they’ve also printed and reprinted a total of 18 shirts! That is downright gluttonous. But awesome! And for all the holiday shoppers out there, they’ve set up a gift guide.

Confessions of a Jock: I Killed a Nerd by Thomas De Santis (Montro) is a deeply cool image- it instantly reminded me of that episode of the Twilight Zone where a dude is locked in a bank vault during a nuclear war (if you saw it, you know the one- but I won’t spoil it for people who somehow haven’t see it yet). There’s a sense of fragility any time you see a lone pair of glasses, because you know that the owner is at the very least crippled by their loss, unable to accurately perceive the visual world. I also enjoy the theme of nature reclaiming a symbol of knowledge. And, of course, the owl- is the owl tiny, or are the glasses huge? Either way, I am a fan.

I have mixed feelings about Splatter in D Minor by Jahoosawa. Black ink on a white shirt pretty much always looks boring. And I’ve never seen splatters with that kind of sharpness, which makes the composition look lazily done. Further, the design was submitted with the splatter beginning on the shoulder, which added to the motion in the piece (it is now centered, which is less interesting). There are things to like about this, though- the line of the notes and splatter is attractive, and there’s a very well done gradual transition between the splatter and the notes. But for me, it’s just not enough.

This week’s Type Tee is Movies: Ruining the Book Since 1920 by Jayson Dougherty (ZombieToArt). It’s a quality slogan, but to me the shirt could use some work. I feel like shirts should be good-looking even from far away, and this font isn’t doing it for me. Maybe because the catalog already includes Sound of Silents, they decided to go with a movie theater setting and a modern font… but to me, something with a more antique twenties-style vibe would have been a must-buy, while this shirt comes up a bit short.

Punk Rock Cock by Aled Lewis (fatheed) is ridiculously good. The illustration itself is on point, especially the safety pin and those little boots. It’s also a great merging of the rooster and punk concepts, from the mohawk to the colored feathers. Really great work.

To me, One Handprint of Nature by Jojo R. Dabucol III (BLXMAN77) is a missed opportunity. The idea itself isn’t bad (though its been done many times before), but the execution strikes me as pretty lacking. It all looks pasted together, with very little merging or transition between the nature and hand elements. It isn’t enough to use fingerprint to fill in a zebra, those lines should also join up with the lines of the hand. The trunks of the trees should bend into the hand, maybe even with roots that enter the handprint. Overall, this just doesn’t look finished to me.

Boy in the Weeds by Winson Lee Ying Hang (stor) is a real standout in this group of new shirts. It stands apart from the rest of the collection, as it is so geometric in nature. I love the color scheme, the strong vertical thrust of the piece, and the quiet asymmetry in the leaves. The design has the feel of being a nature pattern from the future.

Tragedy Struck by Jack Moore (jacklmoore) is a common shirt topic revitalized with a fresh illustrative style. Nice touches abound, from the curves of the background to the dotted motion lines. The roller skates make it clear that this disaster will happen quickly, and the droplets behind the ice leave no question that it’s too late to put a stop to it.

The Raven’s Cry by Andrew John Mohacsy (Andreas Mohacsy) is a real smorgasbord of textures. It’s a gorgeous illustration, no doubt, and there’s so much going on my eyes don’t know quite where to land. I’m not a huge fan of this as a shirt, though- I find the overall shape of the piece to be awkward on a shirt, and I think this level of detail isn’t a great fit for the t-shirt medium. I’m a fan of this artist, but I wish some of his other work had been printed instead.

Now That’s Dope by Robert Gould (Robsoul) is kind of a hand-drawn approach to the type of cartoon that Married to the Sea does. Two generals discuss the dopeness of their phonograph tunes, hilarity ensues. The style of the drawing and the illustrated font add value to the piece. Unfortunately, it has been printed on bright yellow. It takes a very special shirt design to overcome a shirt color like that, and for me this just isn’t it.

Three Plus… One? by Giulia Cucija (jewel947) is the kind of cutesy shirt that I typically dislike- but I think that this one is pretty nice. The difference between this and a lot of other funny animal shirts is the strong design choices, such as the crooked, strangely windowed buildings and the bright colors. I also like the progressive realization of the birds as your eye travels from left to right.

Paper Cranes by Glenn Jones (Glennz) is the ideal execution of a joke shirt: the colors are bright and bold, the message is clear even from a distance, and the concept is easy to grasp. An origami figure does karate’s Crane stance (instantly recognizable to anyone who has seen The Karate Kid) in the direction of a couple of origami cranes, who seem more than a match for this dude’s awkward posing.

Hitchhiker by Henrique Lima (Gringz) has a great style. I like the short, squat rocket (which barely seems able to lift itself off the otherworldly surface) straining under the extra weight of the jovial cyclops. The details make the piece, from the well-realized background art to the series of buttons, switches and wires on the rocket exterior.

The first (and best) of this week’s modern reprints is Cowboys and Indians by Glenn Jones (Glennz). It’s a funny shirt, yes, but what makes it really shine is the amazing shading on the horse and elephant. The orange shirt is another great touch- it conveys the heat of the southwest, but the unnatural neon of the color also gives everything a touch of the bizarre. Interestingly, this is the first Select design I’m aware of that has gotten a reprint.

In Case of Fire by Bruno Acanfora (PINTA MI CERCA) is a light-hearted tee, with a marshmallow on a stick inside a Break Glass construct. It carries the message that in an emergency, you should still try to look on the bright side- plus, it’s a great camping shirt. I’ve got to say, though, I’m pretty tired of the whole “break glass” thing- I feel like I’ve seen a shirt with just about every object imaginable in one of those.

I really like the look of A Key For Everything by Richard Lee (lofty softy). The keys really pop on dark grey, and I like the way they’re cataloged and labeled like sketches in a naturalist’s notebook. The sticking point for me is that I find a few of the more abstract labels to be unbearably twee (key to your heart? key to success? Ugh). I’m probably on my own with that one, but I really think a little more realism would make this a lot more wearable for me.

In addition to the regular reprints listed above, Threadless dug deep into their vaults to reprint some shirts from the early days of Threadless, including I Luv You CPU by Greg Washington (jeedubnew). While it is my favorite of these older reprints, that isn’t saying much. Like a lot of early Threadless stuff, I think it relies too much on the conventions of print and ignores the possibilities of the t-shirt medium (for instance, much of the text is basically unreadable). Still, there are elements that I like, such as the angle of the computer image and the repurposing of the silhouette in the upper left.

Summer Wind by Joachim Baan is another design that fails to take advantage of the shirt. The line of flowers could easily have traveled further north, interacting with the collar. The focal point could have been lower on the shirt, with the flowers traversing more of the available print area. There’s no advantage that I can see to leaving it centered like this. It’s a good looking design, but it looks so much more at home as a wall graphic than it ever did as a shirt.

I don’t really have anything positive to say about Black Spot by John Slabyk (S20). The image itself is pretty dull, though I can see how it might have merit to someone who likes pirates or large, simple shirt designs. What kills it beyond repair, though, is the ridiculous tirade against brands that appears on the back of the shirt. It’s especially out of place at Threadless, which is so heavily branded (even including logo stickers with every order, so that fans can recruit others as customers). Plus, it is just crazy lame to tar all brands with the same brush- it just reeks of a fear of success.

Anyway, there was definitely a huge selection of shirts added today, something for every type of customer. My own purchases were from the shirts introduced on past weeks (Fox and Hare and Sink Yourself), but there were a few from this group that I considered.

18 November 2007 ~ 2 Comments

New This Week at Design By Humans

Design By Humans has a great new selection of shirts this week, and luckily I’ve also got a couple of coupon codes to save everybody some cash: GKA55K (probably good until November 23rd or so) and 8B6S0Z (good until November 24th). Use them and save 15% on your order. If you’ve got your own coupon code, post it in the comments and I’ll mention it at the top of the next Design By Humans post I write.

Projectile Rainfall by suceda is definitely my favorite of the week- I love the sketchy quality of the lines. The characterization of the cloud is great as well, and really conveys the idea that this poor cloud is so ill. The message that in its sickness, the cloud contributes to the health of so many aspects of the planet (wildlife, trees, the ocean) is an interesting one. The cloud is actually an appliqué, which I think would boost this even more in person.

Interlocking Lives, Lines and Transit Lanes by polynothing is… basically the same shirt as another shirt by this artist, This Is What We Call a Life Drawing at Threadless. Unfortunately, I hated it both times. They aren’t bad drawings, exactly, they’re just boring. I can see how a shirt in this style could be nice looking, if the color scheme were done well and if some elements popped from the design more but as is, I just do not care for this.

Ride Captain Ride by adamwhite has so much chaos in the composition. From the strong crashing of the waves to the precarious perch of the ship to the strong vertical of the sea monster (complete with a tear of effort), this shirt is a snapshot of a single moment- the moment right before everything explodes into movement.

Midnight Hunt by ryozilla is a completely different image depending on what distance you view it at. From far away, it is a gorgeously colored nature scene. But up close, there’s added depth- tiny humans are scattered among the leaves, hiding from the birds that prey on them. It’s one of the strongest illustrations that I’ve seen in a competition like this, and I’m glad it got a print.

Circular Reasoning by jsheldon is probably my second favorite of the week. I’m usually a fan of anything with some strong geometry to it, but this one is more than that. It has a great sense of balance and motion to it that prevents your eye from dwelling in any one area for too long. The foil and high density inks used probably add a cool, textural element in person as well.

Overall, a nice, solid week of prints at Design By Humans. There are definitely a couple of shirts that will have to find their way to my collection at some point.

17 November 2007 ~ 0 Comments

New at Gorilla Tank: Flashing the Time

Gorilla Tank has just printed another shirt- that makes two in less than a week! This time it is my personal favorite from the competition, Flashing the Time by JeremyPiatt. It’s a cool image- this seedy, devil-like figure sells clocks of all kind out of his coat. There’s a humorous element as well- seen in both the large old-fashioned alarm clock and the way one clock falls out of the coat (it also adds to the demonic nature of the figure, approximating a tail).

Check out the rest of the Gorilla Tank store for more shirts- Monkey Business was another recent print, and PB & Jelly Wrestling and Superfly are great-looking tees.

16 November 2007 ~ 0 Comments

Zazzle’s Office Humor Contest

Zazzle has a new contest up, and they’re looking for any design (including, but not limited to t-shirt designs) that expresses the theme of Office Humor. To be eligible, you must put your product for sale on Zazzle with the tag “zazzleofficecontest2007″ at some point before November 28th, 2007.

One Grand Prize winner will receive $1000. Ten Honorable Mentions will get $25 Zazzle gift certificates. And of course, all entrants will potentially earn money from their designs if other Zazzle members are buying them.

15 November 2007 ~ 0 Comments

Shirt.Woot Derby #17: Consumerism

This week, I’m going to post the contest blurb from Shirt.Woot in its entirety. This is not exclusively due to laziness (although of course that is always a factor), but the theme is a wee bit complicated and I want to be sure that I’m not misrepresenting things.

Technically, we’re all consumers, since we all eat and most of us wear clothes. But consumerism is something more than acquiring basic needs – it’s the creation of new “needs”, the search for personal identity in mass-market products, the perception of value in labels and brands. Is consumerism just an extension of the way people have been buying and selling since the dawn of time, or a modern contrivance whose power is not to be trusted? As you can imagine, we know a thing or two about selling people stuff they don’t strictly need. Now we want to see (and wear) your graphic commentary on the idea of consumerism.

And since you children keep abusing your toys, we’re taking them away: no pirates, zombies, ninjas, monkeys, apes, squids, or robots this week. This contest is not about who can come up with the sneakiest way to shoehorn one of those memes into the weekly theme. So we’re putting them up in the cupboard where you can’t reach them. You can have them back later, if you can be good. Attempts to get cute with the terms above (“but this a corsair, not a pirate!”) will count as “not being good”.

I’m liking the restrictions this week, I hope it will lead to a rush of creativity in the entries. Should be a fun week…

Entries can be submitted starting Friday at noon and continuing until Wednesday at noon. Remember, though, that voting is on-going- this means that early entries often have more favorable odds for winning. The top three designs, as voted on by Woot members, will be printed next weekend. Each winner will earn up to $500 for the first night of sales, and an additional $2 per shirt for sales made after the first day. If this theme isn’t your thing, consider submitting your work directly to Woot. If selected, you’ll be paid in the same manner as Derby winners.

15 November 2007 ~ 0 Comments

Threadless Display Art for Sale

Since early July, Threadless has hired artist Joe Suta to paint three canvases a week that are a mash up of all the shirts printed. The results vary wildly in style, but they’re all pretty interesting to look at.

These paintings are now offered for sale on Threadless for the price of $250 apiece. It’s kind of a high-end alternative to the wall art that Threadless teamed up with Blik to create.