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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.

11 February 2008 ~ 2 Comments

New Shirt Monday at Threadless

For some reason, Threadless went with a theme this week- all designs are printed on either black or white shirts, and to support this initiative the product pics are in black and white as well, with only the colors of the design shown in their full color glory. I actually found the product photos pretty distracting, but it’s still a cool experiment.

This week’s Select shirt, Flightless by Yeoh Guan Hong (yeohgh), is my favorite of the group. It’s a cool illustrative piece, combining hand-drawn type with bird sketches- all of which is spiced up with bright orange, adding detail to the birds and giving them a sense of place. Another strength of the piece is its transparency- it is sort of like each color is on its own plane of existence, and while they appear to interact with each other none of it is really real.

Magic Paintbrush by William Chua (xiaobaosg) shows a young boy painting creatures that come to life. It’s a pretty common idea, and can be seen other places like Harold and the Purple Crayon or the video game Okami. This is a well-done version, though, and the sweeping motion of the imagery supports the theme nicely.

Red Moon Replay by Tan Nuyen (Monkey III) is about late night movies, and does an expert job of combining night imagery (the wolf howling at the moon) with movie imagery (check out those video player icons). The red moon pulls double duty, also functioning as a record button. The silver foil of the wolf, laying over the icons, adds style to the piece.

RIP by Lev Berry (elleevee) is, frankly, a shirt I don’t really get. I’d describe it as a collection of musical visual elements, done up in neon. I don’t get the arrangement, though- the title makes me think it’s supposed to be a grave scene, but I don’t see it. I don’t know, I guess it’s just not for me.

Green by René Corini D’Agosto shows a kind of eco-graffiti. A painter has covered the city (both buildings and a car) with art depicting a more natural world. The best part of the design is the splash of blue in the upper left- the painter’s work has become real, and a single bluebird is perched on a branch. I also like the perspective of the piece, and it’s a great fit for the white shirt.

Happy End by Bocognani Vincent (vintz) is about King Kong’s greatest fantasy- romancing Lady Liberty. Backlit by the setting sun, the design really does look like something right out of a movie with bright colors and dramatic shadows. The way their shadows darken the city has me wondering what they’re going to do next, maybe a giant-sized crime spree? Do I smell a sequel?

To me, Windsurfingbird by Karl Nord (svrtknkrr) is another baffling print choice. I attribute the high score this one received in voting to the huge print size it showed, because at the smaller size Threadless printed, it has no visual power. It’s much less dramatic and it lacks motion. Further, without the title I never would have picked this out as windsurfing- it just looks like a dude on a badly drawn bird to me. But I’m from the midwest, where windsurfing isn’t really a thing. Maybe on the coast this plays better.

This week’s reprints:

Overall, a couple of gems and a whole lot of boring. I blame some of this on their weird black and white shirt color choices- I really prefer color. Hopefully next week is all color to cancel this out.

10 February 2008 ~ 1 Comment

New This Week at Design By Humans

Another week, another set of cool shirts at Design By Humans. If you’re putting an order through, enter coupon code DBH22 for a discount.

Blackbird’s Attackin’ in the Dead ‘O’ Night by shantyshawn is the stand-out shirt of the week, due to the huge print it employs. I like that the color of the shirt is split almost exactly in half by black and white content. I’m glad it’s been printed on a black shirt instead of a white shirt because this way it gives the impression that the entire back of the shirt might be enveloped by birds, a much stronger visual than the reverse would be. The nitpick I have though is that it’s too obvious that the bird silhouettes are being reused- duplicates often sit very near to each other, destroying the illusion. The reusing jumps out at me, even in the small image of the shirt shown on the main store page.

Snakey Shaky Heart by suceda brings some much-needed color to the DBH collection, printed as it is on a red shirt. The artist’s thick, textural style lends an odd warmth to the snake, who seems to be protecting the human (maybe at the same time it destroys him, if the snake’s rivalry with the man’s breath is as it appears). I like the snake’s fierce gaze and the way he functions as a blindfold. I just wish I understood what was happening in the image better, because I feel like the design is definitely telling some kind of story.

I’m a bit confused by Haih! by wann. It’s not terrible, I guess, but it’s kind of dull… just a bunch of black scribbles on a white shirt, with most of the visual focus on a bird that says “Haih.” It’s an odd printing choice for a site that has access to some of the best t-shirt designs and designers in the world. And given the simplicity of the piece, I’m skeptical about the $19 price point- even $15 is a bit of a stretch for me on this one.

Stay Human by tan-k is probably my favorite shirt this week, I love the raw creativity of the piece. Maybe it’s about being a man instead of a chicken, who knows? I enjoy the colors, the twisty body of the man, and the expressions of both the man and the bird. It’s also got some very nice use of pattern, which I always like to see.

A New Idea by sirbeauris is another one that I’m a bit baffled by, though. While I like the idea, I don’t think the execution is up to par. The rendering of the woman’s face feels unresolved- she looks more frightened than surprised, and her nose is frankly a bit terrifying to me. The reliance on background flourishes is disappointing as well, especially since it negatively affects the clarity of the face. It’s too bad, because I like the idea of showcasing a newer style of light bulb.

Overall, not a fantastic week for me. None of these shirts really grabbed me, though there are aspects that I like about most of them.

10 February 2008 ~ 0 Comments

Discogs Loves Threadless: Top Three

The Discogs Loves Threadless contest asked for entries that centered on the idea of Music: Past, Present, and Future. That’s a lot of room to play, and to me these are the three submissions that did it best:

Spiritual Symphony - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Far and away my favorite of the bunch, Spiritual Symphony by Ellsswhere and watch.me.work shows some of the most famous deities jamming together, kind of a heavenly garage band. It’s a fantastic idea, and the execution (as a one-color design) is really neat- it keeps all the band members equally important in the scene. I’m also intrigued by the discharge printing technique that the artists have specified, since I’ve yet to see Threadless print that way. Here’s hoping this will be the first!

THE COQUELLIDOO - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

The Coquellido by mr.pimpant uses his trademark sketchy style to create a surreal scene where gigantic birds listen to music instead of make it. It has textures galore and a huge chicken, so for me it’s totally purchase material.

Rockers's Delight - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Rocker’s Delight by MartinK. stars a purple-haired, rosy-faced, tattooed son-of-a-gun who won me over with his charming ways- I love the way he grips his walkman and cigarette so tightly, even as the smoke orbits around his Easter Island-sized head. Another factor that has me loving this shirt is the way so much of the design includes that character’s shirt- it’s a cool way of incorporating some pattern into the piece. Great work!

Overall, I found this contest to be a bit lackluster- maybe because so many music-oriented shirts get submitted even without a specific contest theme. Still, I think the three above are some of the best shirts I’ve ever seen at Threadless, so in that sense the competition was a great success.

08 February 2008 ~ 2 Comments

Shirt.Woot Derby #29: Tromp L’Oeil

Shirt.Woot‘s newest derby may turn out to be their most challenging yet: Tromp L’Oeil. They’re looking for a shirt that “should fool us into believing something about itself or its wearer that isn’t true.” And of course, there are restrictions: Woot doesn’t want any shirts that have been done before, and are specifically outlawing tuxedo shirts, neckties, fake sweaters and bare breasts.

The derby begins on Friday at noon, and next weekend the three top vote-getters will be printed next weekend. Winners get up to $500 for the first night of sales, and an additional $2 per shirt for any sales made after the first day.

Be sure to check out sites for derby fans like ShirtDerbyStats and Best Losers– they’re your best non-Woot sources for information on Derby favorites.

07 February 2008 ~ 0 Comments

New at A Better Tomorrow: Unglaublich

Unglaublich by Anger is the newest winner at A Better Tomorrow. I really like the use of text on this one- a lot of shirts make the mistake of needed text to explain the concept, and rather than make the same mistake this design seems to create another joke out of the excess of explanatory text. I’m also charmed by the extra pair of wings worn by the bird (flying instructor).

At A Better Tomorrow, designers get 500 euros if their t-shirt or wallsticker entry wins. While the site is in German, entrants can be from anywhere around the globe.

05 February 2008 ~ 0 Comments

This Week’s Winner at Uneetee

Shaun Lee is the first winner of Uneetee‘s new Monday contest format (where each Monday, a winning shirt is chosen and printed for the rest of the week). His shirt design Escape brings to mind a lot of the classic silhouette designs that Threadless used to prefer in their early days.

Winners at Uneetee get $1500 ($750 cash and $750 guaranteed commission- shirts sold after that point nab the designer $2 per shirt sold). All winners are chosen from designs submitted and voted on by the Uneetee community, so if you want your shot at the prize, submit something.

04 February 2008 ~ 0 Comments

New Shirt Monday at Threadless

Silver Screen Fabulations by Mikko Walamies (Mikko Terva) is a worthy winner for Threadless‘s competition with The Secret Handshake. Using a color scheme that is instantly recognizable as the red and blue of three dimensional movies, the design separates the movie experience into two parts: the red standing in for the mundane reality of the movie, and blue representing the hopes, dreams and imagination that the audience is projecting on the film. In a way, the imagery makes this seem like two shirts instead of one- and while I was skeptical about how well this would work when the design was in voting, I think the final product proves that this was a very viable visual strategy.

Yeti Hated His Size 5 Feet… by Aled Lewis (fatheed) is another addition to Threadless’s extensive yeti and bigfoot shirt collection, but the design hinges on the very nature of the yeti/bigfoot distinction so it’s an addition that makes sense. This yeti hides his small-footed deformity with some big footprint stilts, founding a legend that is now known worldwide. The artwork is clean, simple and a great fit for the white shirt.

Ketchup And Mustard by Alex Trochut is this week’s Select design. It’s a cool play on the usage of decorative text on a shirt, with Lorem Ipsum text instead of a message. It’s a very cool usage, since the words are purely decorative and still hold a bit of a hidden meaning to any designers or typesetters who see it. The style at work here is incredible, with highlights and shadowing that expertly lend dimension to the lettering.

Legend by Jimmy Tan Wei Hau shows a mechanical godzilla-like monster thundering his way through the countryside. Instead of destroying buildings he seems to be made of them, with architecture and gears mingling to form his parts. To me, this could easily be interpreted as a message about how industry can work, plowing over the resources of the natural world in a way that is reminiscent of movie monsters in its violence.

Napoleon’s Ride by Martin Krusche (MartinK.) depicts an alternate reality Napoleon who crusades with a donut flag and a freaky cartoon cat sidekick. The art itself is as high quality as the concept, with textures spicing up the piece through the fur of the cat, the waves of the flag fabric, and the speckled coat of the horse.

Corporate Ladder by Whitney Gaynor (WhitneyBeth) is a very Threadless-y idea, showing the different stages of corporate success (from janitor to head honcho) and the lengths some suits go through to advance. I fully expected to see this printed and all, but I’ve never really liked it- the grey toned colors and faceless employees bore me, and the sizes of the characters don’t seem to be in the same range (maybe they are, but it freaks my eyes out that the seated woman’s head pops over the step just as much as the Office Space stand-ins on the rung above her).

Reprinting this week: Runnin’ Rhino by Allan Faustino (alanis) and Geology by Tim Babb (timrb).

Overall, a very nice collection of shirts. The shirt color situation isn’t quite ideal- four of the six new shirts this week are in the white/silver/cream family, and I’d rather see stuff with some color.