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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.

26 January 2008 ~ 0 Comments

The Derby Grows Up: Alice Painting Caterpillar

Alice Painting Caterpillar went on sale at Shirt.Woot last night after winning second place in the Graffiti derby.

Why is this news? Well, if you’ve been following the derby over the last few months, then you know that typically well-drawn art is at a bit of a disadvantage. Funny concepts and text usually rule the top spots, which makes this victory of pure drawing skill a fairly unique event (even the artist’s past work often relied on humor).

To be printed, this shirt also overcame a late entry (voting begins Friday at noon, this piece wasn’t entered until Sunday) and an unpopular shirt color (white shirts are often vilified by voters). The customers must have loved it too, because it sold out of 1500 shirts around 9:30 this morning (though starting tonight at midnight, it will again be available here).

25 January 2008 ~ 0 Comments

Shirt.Woot Derby #27: Dreams

Shirt.Woot‘s newest derby theme is Dreams. As they put it, “Dreams. The visions and emotions we experience while asleep. The aspirations we hold for a better world. The things Billy Ocean commands us to get out of. Much has been said about the enigma of dreams, from Sigmund Freud to Martin Luther King, Jr. to Van Halen. Now it’s your turn. Show us a shirt that explores, explains, embodies, or embiggens the concept of dreams.”

That definitely sounds awesome. And, to stay true to the dream theme, all text has been outlawed this week.

The floodgate for submissions opens Friday at noon, with voting opening at the same time. Submissions must be made before Wednesday at noon, and voting closes on Thursday at noon. The three highest-ranking shirts (as determined by voters) will be sold next weekend, with their designers earning up to $500 for the first night’s sales and $2 per shirt sold after that point.

While you’re waiting for the voters to recognize your obvious shirt design genius, waste some time at the Derby supporting sites that have sprung up. ShirtDerbyStats is your one-stop-shop for vote total estimates and user comments on individual entries. Meanwhile, Best Losers is your best source of information on all the shirts that didn’t win, complete with awards and tips on where to send your design next.

23 January 2008 ~ 0 Comments

Professional-Caliber Submission Images with T-Shirt Textures

T-shirt design contests can be a tough gig- even the best illustration might not speak to the voters unless your submission presentation is just right. And one of the keys to hitting that sweet spot with the voters is to set up an image that accurately represents what your design will look like on a shirt.

There are two major ways to accomplish this: 1) Show the design on a photograph of an actual person, and 2) Use a t-shirt texture to show a close up of how your design will look on a shirt when printed.

Until recently, only really serious designers bothered to use a texture- it can be a hassle to create those, as you have to scan or photograph an actual shirt in just the right lighting conditions. But now Manos, a top Threadless designer, has benevolently provided the community with accurately colored t-shirt textures for all the colors that Threadless offers.

Expect to see a lot of improved t-shirt submission images in the near future as word of this gets out!

22 January 2008 ~ 0 Comments

Teetonic’s Chillax Competition

Teetonic and NHS Highland are teaming up for one of the most ambitious t-shirt design contests I’ve ever seen. The goal? To make an attractive, catchy and entertaining shirt about sensible drinking.

It’s a tough order, for sure, but the designer that does it best will be handsomely rewarded, to the tune of an iPhone, a 100 pound voucher to Teetonic, and six shirts with your design.

Enter before February 17th for your chance to win.

21 January 2008 ~ 0 Comments

New Shirt Monday at Threadless

We Are Just Pixels After All by Malo Tocquer (shkmalo) is my Threadless pick of the week. This design does one of my favorite things- it works differently from different viewing distances. From afar, a nice world map. But close up, and the map explodes into a series of unique pixel drawings. Very neat, and a great one color print. The choice of printing this as a huge side print kicks things up another notch.

ABCs by Aaron Hogg (hogboy) uses the style of a fifties-era children’s book to tell a different kind of story- A and B tell of the good things in life, but C tells of danger. A giant dinosaur, with subtle texture and a pleasant grin, chomps happily on the boy, whose hat flutters uselessly to the ground. What makes this shirt really shine for me is the attention to detail- you can see the apple from A held in the background of B, where the boy chases the ball… right into the dinosaur’s path.

Torso by Matthew Curry is this week’s Select design. It’s an artistic riff on the structure of the torso, with a cool color scheme and a neat, collaged look. Because of how many differently treated elements there are in the composition, it’s a piece that allows you to discover something new every time you look. And it comes with a matching poster, which cracks me up (I’ve never quite grasped the concept of owning the same art in two formats).

I hate Darwin Kick by Ibrahim Dilek. I know that sounds awful, but there’s just a lot here that doesn’t work for me. I hate evolution silhouettes in general, as most sizable t-shirt places have multiple designs using them. And this is just not that clever- the idea of evolution silhouettes interacting has been done, as has the idea of the evolution line ending in violence. It’s tired, and this isn’t even a particularly well-done rendition- I have no idea what’s going on with the kicked fellow’s head, but something is definitely not right.

A Salt And Battery by Emery Greer (TollFree) is a pun shirt, as everyone can plainly see. It is not a particularly attractive shirt (it is a damn salt shaker and battery, so you can’t expect much), so the value of this shirt lies entirely in how funny you find this pun. It is too bad, then, that this isn’t that funny. Here is how a conversation about this shirt would go. “What’s on your shirt?” “A salt and battery.” “Oh.” “You see, there’s a pun…” “No, I get it.” The end, I hope you have enjoyed this play.

Arctic Spa by Matthijs Smit (mtths) is a very funny idea, depicting the arctic spa where polar bears, penguins and eskimos go to chill in an ice cube tray. But while this is a funny idea, it’s not a great shirt. The shape on the shirt is awkward, and overall it reads like an illustration intended for another medium and the repurposed on a shirt without any editing.

Penguins Are My Home by Michael Valadares Ferreira (Bisparulz) shows an eskimo who has literally built a home out of penguins. Surely the most adorable home in that frigid zip code, it also features an icicle antenna. The shading is excellent, making this piece stand ou even among the artist’s other great work.

Freedom Call by Ana Paula Caldas is one of this week’s reprints, and it’s the kind of work that Threadless doesn’t really print much these days. It uses vector objects (some of which, frankly, look like they’re right out of a generic vector pack) to illustrate the concept of the woman being propelled upward. It’s also the kind of work you can get at any number of shirt sites specializing in this type of vector work, so it’s an odd reprint choice for me.

Advisors by Rula Ali (Topper Harley) is a reprint that makes more sense- it’s the best rendition of the theme (an angel and a devil on each shoulder) I’ve ever seen, and it’s the type of shirt that people associate with the Threadless brand. I enjoy the spareness of the illustration- a whole lot gets accomplished with just three colors.

Overall, a pretty typical week. A couple of good shirts and a few truly baffling choices (two penguin designs on light shirts in one week- and right at the tail end of winter?). Here’s to hoping that some cool printing techniques start to roll out in the next few weeks…

20 January 2008 ~ 0 Comments

New This Week at Design By Humans

For a discount on your Design By Humans purchase, try DBH22. (And if you have a code of your own, post it in the comments.)

After the Rain Comes a Rainbow by -apy- is my favorite shirt of the week, because it is practically a master class in how to do a text shirt well. Start off with gorgeous hand-drawn letters, fill with intricate black and white drawings, and finish off with some color to guide the eye through the phrase. It makes for a great shirt, especially because of how huge it is printed.

Imaginaria Matre by Draco envisions the artistic muse as a saintly creature, with design tools forming a backdrop for her image. It’s an idea that a lot of illustrators have played around with, but the crisp style, soft colors and excellent half-tone use set this apart from the pack.

BUILD by aman features a charming, hairy creature (with amused but blank eyes) who is in the process of ripping apart a city so that he can build a new one. I love this take on the monster concept- that a monster might be representative of change, and ultimately have a positive effect. I’m a bit torn on the inclusion of the word build on the shirt- I like that it evens out the shirt a bit (all the rest of the action takes place on the left, ending at almost the exact middle point of the shirt) but the word itself doesn’t do much for me. A different phrase or a different text treatment might have made this already good shirt a little better.

Billy the Money Buffalo Goes to a Party by michaelacolette is my second favorite, mainly because I just can’t get enough of this color palette. They’re absolutely fresh, and perfectly suited to the absurdity of the concept. Billy himself is fascinating to look at, a patchwork of texture, color and text with just enough charm to make all the disparate elements cleave together. The second I saw this shirt, all I could think was “I must own you.” It’s that good.

Found Then Lost by corey9 is another favorite (yeah, I have a lot of those this week!), because I think the abstract shape used makes a perfect playground for the artist’s retro-inspired style. It’s a bit of a dada-esque mixture of texture and image, and it is easy to get lost in all those lines- because once you lose yourself in the image, it’s even more fun! For me, the most interesting sections are the one featuring the bird (who seems to have gotten wedged into his area mid-flight, much to his confusion) and the area with the house (I love the unique house shape and the texture of the roof). It’s all good stuff, though.

Overall, this is my favorite week of DBH shirts in a while! I’d wear them all, and there are three that are valiantly fighting for my credit card right now. They’ll win out eventually, I’m sure, because these are some seriously kick ass shirts.

19 January 2008 ~ 0 Comments

Cranium Loves Threadless: Top Three

The Cranium Loves Threadless contest had one of the most open-ended themes I’ve ever seen for one of these: Wow! And some people really capitalized on that freedom to create some unique and interesting shirts.

No More Grey Matter - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

No More Grey Matter by paperball is a buffet of color and cartoon, with strange creatures transforming into other visual elements. At the very bottom of the design, almost lost in all the chaos, is the tiny brain that all these ideas sprung from.

Smoking Kills - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Another favorite of mine is Smoking Kills by eskimokiss. The look of it is complex- a smoking hand pedals a unicycle, with the smokecloud manipulating a raincloud that overflows a bucket. The smokecloud and bucket overflow spell out the shirt’s message. It’s a funny image, and the unique color palette puts this squarely in the top tier of message shirts- though truthfully, I think it would work even better if worn ironically.

Creature Convention - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Creature Convention by secretly robots is so perfectly suited to this contest that I would be genuinely shocked if it didn’t win. As a shirt with pictures of colorful, smiling monsters, it works pretty well. But this shirt is more than that- it also creates a message when folded, with the monsters spelling out Wow!, the competition’s theme.

The upper echelons of this contest included some really fantastic work, though a lot of people struggled with the vague theme. There will almost definitely be a great winner, though I think a more concrete theme might have resulted in more successful shirt designs overall.