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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 November 2007 ~ 0 Comments

$10 Sale, More New Shirts at Threadless

The $10 sale continues at Threadless, and they’ve added a bunch of new shirts and classic reprints to the mix.

I’m opening this week’s reviews with I Love Coffee by Kirksey Wells (RAISEnoCHICKEN) not because it’s my favorite shirt (I like it, but I’m no coffee fan) but instead because this is hands down the most interesting printing decision of the week to me. As you may or may not know, the state of New York owns the copyright on the “I heart” ouvre of shirts- they sue the pants off of anyone who gets anywhere near their I Love NY trademark. In fact, Threadless was previously sued by New York for their Honest Tee shirt, which was a parody of the logo with the text “have never been to” in place of the heart. Could this printing mean that there’s been a decision on the Honest Tee issue? Because that’s a shirt that a lot of people are waiting for a reprint of… Anyway, this shirt is pretty clever, in that the coffee mug takes a while to see for most viewers. I think it might actually be a bit too unobtrusive, as I think most people would see this as meaning “I heart drip” or “I heart nothing,” missing the coffee mug aspect entirely.

Shiver Me Timbers by Noor Azman Mohd Zain (Jemae) is a shirt that I stand alone in disliking. The rave reviews have been flooding in on this one since it entered voting. The artwork of the boat and sea is wonderful. So what’s the problem? I seriously do not understand why the puzzle aspect is there. I have no internal connection between the pirates and the puzzle concept, maybe one exists that I’m unaware of. But for me, the puzzle cut-outs just detract from the art. All those lines just make this one look like a confusing mess to me at most distances, which makes it not a great fit for the t-shirt medium.

You Really Grate On Me by Gemma Correll (gemmabear) is a cute cartoon on a shirt. While this is an unpopular opinion at Threadless, I’ve got to say that I really feel like this type of cartoon has no business being on a shirt. Cartoons are great, but if you need to read the text to get them, you’ll need to be pretty damn close to the shirt before it makes any sense. And call me crazy, but I’m just not into the idea of wearing a giant cheese grater that no one will understand the context for. I feel like there are a lot of shirts in this same style, but better done, at Natalie Dee.

Put The Needle On The Record by Steven Bonner (steven218) is a great use of puff ink (on the thread), which makes me excited for when Threadless starts printing more shirts with specialty inks. It’s also a nice, understated visual joke. Definitely a worthy winner of the 33 1/3 Loves Threadless contest.

Ad Noctum by Ed Pincombe (Edword) is a favorite of mine this week, mainly because I think the drawing style does an amazing job of setting an emotional tone for the piece. I like the quiet resolve of the two figures as they walk into the gaping maw of the tree-skull, whose arms are raised as though this is just as much an ordeal for him as for the humans, actually.

Wayfaring Waltz by Priscilla Wilson (valorandvellum) grabbed my eye initially because of the great shape and kept my attention because of all the textural detailing. It’s a real feast for the eyes, with sound waves, hair, and oceanic waves all interacting to create a design that has a real sense of movement about it. Really great work, this is a shirt I’ll probably be buying.

The title of this design by Jan Avendano (funkie fresh) is Yes You Are, answering the monster on the shirt who states plainly “I am not a monster.” I have to say, I really love this shirt- I think it’s a neat conceptual twist on the monster imagery that we’re all used to seeing. This monster stands amongst a burning cityscape, denying responsibility for the carnage. The color scheme (muted, instead of the bold colors so common to monster shirts) seems to agree with the non-monster theory, as does the thin, delicate linework.

Candy-Coated Assassin by Kneil Melicano (roadkill3d) reminds me of a lot of early Threadless designs. I like the style a lot, but to me the content is pretty lacking. There’s a lot of emotionally-loaded imagery (gun, rain, girl with stuffed animal) thrown around, and it just doesn’t seem to mean anything. Decorative stuff is cool, don’t get me wrong, but its weird to me to see these symbols that are usually indicators of meaning used for… basically no reason.

Karma by Clayton Dixon (DEXXON) uses a visual style that is a great fit to the underwater subject matter (even though its not my favorite look). Circles are punched into the forms of the whale and the boat, conveying both movement and dimension. The poses of the drowning sailors are nice as well, they suggest the suddenness of the shift in power that allowed the whale to gain control.

One of the reasons that I like Cat Got Your Tongue by Andy Gonsalves (andyg) is because it is so different from most of Threadless’s other offerings. It’s bold, old-school cartooning but with a grown-up, literal approach. I like to think that he’s stolen the tongue of some of those awful food-with-faces creatures, who are now forced to stare silently at each other rather than painfully punning about how delicious they are.

How Hamburgers Are Made by Kyle Starks (starr226) is a cool image and a neat idea. However, to me this is not a great shirt. The images are too small- you’d have to be practically on top of the shirt before you had any idea what was going on. If the design had been made more vertical, it would have been a much better fit for a shirt.

Unlike a lot of wintery shirts, Penguins On Holiday by Philip Tseng (pilihp) shows penguins and polar bears interacting in a way that actually makes sense: the penguins have taken a vacation up north! It perfectly captures the tourist experience, penguins read guide books, pose with the locals and wear fanny packs, while missing the real action happening right under their noses (in the background, a polar bear chases a hapless eskimo).

Strange Birds by John Mitchell (JOHN2) is a Select reprint- the second in as many weeks. Like last week’s Select reprint, Cowboys and Indians, there’s not much (apart from the inflated price tag) to distinguish it from the normal shirts that Threadless prints. Where are the cool printing techniques and the edgy concepts? At any rate, it’s a good-looking shirt.

There was also a reprint on the Type Tee I Listen to Bands That Don’t Even Exist Yet by Evan Ferstenfeld (FRICKINAWESOME). I like the slogan a lot, it’s a neat play on the fact that it’s hip to known bands before they hit it big (but definitely not after). But given how many great slogans are floating around (and how little slogan writers get paid), I question the wisdom of printing the same old slogans instead of inaugurating some new ones. It would be neat to at least see a different text or color treatment when these reprint.

Peace and Hate. Can You Tell The Difference? by Allan Faustino (alanis) is a cool idea with a cloying title. The dove and the grenade have been styled to look similarly, but in doing so I think they’re also a bit boring to look at. I’d like to see a design update on this one to give the lines a bit more style so that it doesn’t look quite so generic to my eyes.

Drum n’ Bass by KID_Z is the first of the classic Threadless reprints this week. It’s also probably the best of the bunch. It’s a slick one-color masterpiece, with lines that suggest dimension and texture without actually showing it. Although… why is every design that I like at Threadless lately on either yellow or gold? Are there people who actually like those colors?

Sniffers Row by Westbeachgirl is about how dogs sniff each other’s asses. I have no idea why anyone would want to wear a shirt about that, and I definitely will never understand why there was enough demand for a shirt like this to merit a reprint. Honestly, what is there to say about a shirt like this?

Unlike the last shirt, I’m very fond of Presstube Tees by James Paterson. It looks like a shirt from some kind of alternate Japanese future. I have no idea what it is supposed to represent, and frankly I don’t care. It’s more fun to wonder.

So, overall it was a pretty good week for Threadless. While there are things that I wish they’d do a bit differently, I think the variation shown in the shirts printed this week is spot on- there’s something for everyone.

25 November 2007 ~ 0 Comments

New This Week at Design By Humans

New week, new shirts at Design By Humans. It’s a great batch of tees, and there’s a great deal on them running until midnight tonight- if you buy $75 of shirts, your account will be credited with $25 for your next purchase. Very neat! I’ve also got some coupon codes, each good for 15% off: R6ZZW2 (good until November 28th) and EL3HBQ (good until December 3rd). If you’ve got a coupon code, post it in the comments and I’ll list it at the top of my next Design By Humans post.

Edword’s epic Fang & Claw shows a cobra and a mongoose locked in a fight for survival. The textures and shading are really intricately done, and it works to draw the viewer right into the action. It’s my favorite of the week, but also the one that I’m most curious about seeing in person- I can’t decide whether I think the sheen on the ink adds dimension, or whether it might distract from all the detail work. Either way, this is a pretty above-average shirt, though.

Viking Voyage is a shirt design by Ky11, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite shirt designers. His other shirt at DBH, The Birdman, shares a few elements with this one- the wave patterning and the ragged shading that darkens the lines near the characters’ faces. It gives his shirts a unique look and a lot of personality. I love the addition of embroidered waves in this one, too- it adds some great texture to the piece.

Flower by a_mar_illo doesn’t look like any shirt I’ve seen before, which I intend as a huge compliment. The lines are crazy-complicated and your eye almost gets lost in it. But it’s a fun journey, and there are some nice details that you discover along the way. The color palette is unique as well, which I think tends to be a staple of a_mar_illo’s t-shirt work. Good stuff.

kbauthus’s Day of the Dead is probably the most girl-friendly skull shirt the world has ever seen. It is a masterpiece of decorative line that remains true to its source of inspiration by looking good enough to eat. Really nice use of high density ink, too.

The interaction of solid color and pattern is the focal point of Buddha by Lexane. I think the gloss highlights make it, though- they make the snake’s faces pop from the shirt, which in combination with the plaid pattern of their bodies gives a sense of movement to the scene. The movement is a great contrast with the serenity of the rest of the design.

Overall, a pretty nice selection. I’m enjoying the variety in style and subject manner, but I’d love to see some more variation in shirt color- the DBH line seems pretty heavy on black, asphalt, light blue and white at the moment, I know I’d appreciate some brighter colors in the mix.

24 November 2007 ~ 1 Comment

Ferraby Lionheart Loves Threadless: Top Three

The Ferraby Lionheart Loves Threadless contest has passed the submission deadline for awhile now, so I’m going to spotlight my top three favorite entries.

The Yellow Breeches Waltz - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

The Yellow Breeches Waltz by Freddi27 has a great color palette and an even better concept. I think most people enjoy looking at the reflections of light and color in the water, and it is a deeply cool idea to show the waltzing couple, an image from another time, reflected back. The ripples left by the leaves add more motion and contribute to the sense that if you look away for a moment the image will change again and the waltzers will be lost to time.

Human Nature - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Human Nature by heat. has quite a message- it depicts a man made of buildings strong-arming his way through the natural world. The landscape elements that he has interacted with are brown and dead-looking, and the earth that is cupped in his hand drips an ominous green. Apart from the message that the design imparts, the shape and colors of the art are strikingly attractive.

Small Planet - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Small Planet by WanderingBert is all about unity, or lack thereof. Two spacemen, representing the extreme environments of the earth, float next to each other with the earth blocking their hands. On the earth, the image of two hands as continents, just out of each other’s grasp. It gives me the sense that if the opposites of the earth (as represented by the spacemen) were able to unite their efforts they’d have not only the planet, but also the universe in the palm of their hands.

Overall, I felt like this was a very successful competition for Threadless. I scored a lot of submissions highly, and there was a good amount of variation in the way people approached the topic.

23 November 2007 ~ 0 Comments

Black Friday T-Shirt Deals

It’s Black Friday, and all the major t-shirt contests are dropping their prices to get your business.

At Design By Humans, you’ll get $25 credited to your DBH account if you spend $75 or more before midnight on Sunday. Try coupon codes R6ZZW2 or EL3HBQ to save 15% on your order.

Threadless‘s $10 sale is still on, continuing until December 16th.

Teetonic has a £9.99 sale underway, with many shirts in their collection available for that low price. Six Cities shirts have been discounted to £12.99.

Uneetee is offering blank black shirts for $5 and any black shirt in their collection for only $10. Today only.

ShirtADay is also getting into the act, offering a 25% discount on all clearance items with the code “blackfriday.” And today’s featured shirt is one that any cheapskate will relate to, a plain black tee with white text reading “I’m cheap.” Indeed.

23 November 2007 ~ 1 Comment

Uneetee’s November Top Twenty Finalists

Uneetee‘s Top Twenty November finalists are being voted on, and your input will help to determine which shirts are sold. The first place winner will be available from December 1st to 5th, with second to fifth places available one a day from December 6th to 9th.

Personally, I’m pulling for Bird of Fire by kooky love. It’s a neat concept (what would happen if phoenixes were real?) drawn really well. Plus, a bucket brigade! That’s a subject you don’t see on t-shirts often, and maybe you should. Real Bot by WanderingBert is another favorite of mine, mainly because of the great style. This robotic pinocchio creature is both weird and emotionally powerful.

And remember, Uneetee is always on the lookout for new t-shirt designs. They’re accepting submissions right now for next month’s contest, where one designer will walk away with $1500.

21 November 2007 ~ 0 Comments

Computerlove Winners 2007


Computerlove has announced the winners of their 2007 T-Shirt Design Competition, and it’s a bit of a mixed bag. I’m glad that Somewhere Else by Brandon Wilson (Weebles) took first, as it is a cool, original take on the theme of Utopia, painting it as more a state of mind than a physical location.

I’m less favorable in my opinion of second place winner A Men Utopia by Francesco Muzzi (Mootsie). As an image, I like the style. But I sort of don’t get what the benefits implied by the shirt would even be- it seems like stretchy arms would be about a million times more fun and useful. Oh well, I’m a girl, so I’m not the target audience on this one anyway.

Third place winner Turn Right Darling, Now! by David Loewe has a really impeccable collaged style- except for the clouds. Everything else is perfection, but those clouds with their odd greyness and strange shape (they are sombreros!) are a huge distraction for me. It’s too bad, since this is a great take on the Utopia theme, what with its clearly marked signage and missing off-ramp.

Empty Quote by Arnaud Marquez (Syn) was named the fourth place finisher. It’s a really nice idea, but I don’t think it works unless the quote in question is instantly recognizable. The quote used for this shirt is “Des pensées sans contenu sont vides, des intuitions sans concepts, aveugles.” Which is Kant in French, and completely pretentious for an english-speaker to wear.

I was also disappointed to see that my favorite of the contest, Les Gentils by nicolas, was denied a printing. That same artist recently had a shirt printed at Shirt.Woot, titled The Thing That Scoots, so other fans of his work might want to check it out.

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.