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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.

05 October 2007 ~ 4 Comments

Inspiration vs. Plagiarism

T-shirt contest sites are always plagued by unoriginal work, it can be a nasty side effect of the voting process (which asks the public to rate their favorites, sometimes leading to a mediocre focus group-style result). But it is worth the aggravation of seeing endless penguin, pirate and pun designs to see truly great, artistic works beat the odds and get printed.

So it’s a real shame when those original works turn out to be heavily based on the work of other artists.

Exhibit A in this debate is The Magical Zipper to Weiner Man Land by John Barthell. Soon after it was printed, a fan of artist Spencer Hibert realized that it was heavily based on a Hibert painting. Not only that, others soon noticed that the hand itself appeared to be traced directly from the painting:


Is borrowing a theme from a painting (and using a traced element of that painting) plagiarism? The debate rages on in the forums, as many believe that the styles of the art involved are divergent enough to qualify as independent works. Threadless, meanwhile, is taking no chances- The Magical Zipper to Weiner Man Land has been removed from the Threadless catalog.

Exhibit B in the debate is What’s Yo Flava? by Fabio Girardi (and a number of other illustrations by this artist). After his work was published in Ideafiza magazine, friends of artist Audrey Kawasaki noticed some very striking similarities:


As you can see, not only is the style modified from Kawasaki’s original paintings, there is a strong enough similarity between facial structures that many believe tracing was involved. Girardi denies tracing images, but admits to being inspired by Kawasaki. For her part, friends of Kawasaki have stated that she isn’t interested in pursuing legal action, as she feels the art is dissimilar enough. Perhaps motivated by Kawasaki’s attitude about the situation, What’s Yo Flava remains available for purchase at Camiseteria at this time.

In both examples A and B, some very talented artists created work that borrowed heavily from others in their field. Each person who looks at these examples will probably have a different take on what constitutes plagiarism and what is merely inspired by other works. The real tragedy is that two artists who are capable of some really amazing work will now always have people wondering how much is original and how much is borrowed.

04 October 2007 ~ 0 Comments

Shirt.Woot Derby #11: Cryptozoology


This week’s Derby theme is a doozy: Cryptozoology! Head over to Shirt.Woot and post your best shirt design featuring non-existent animals. Submissions and voting will open up Friday at noon, so start getting your designs ready now- fortune favors the quick.

The prize was upped last week and now stands at $250 for any winner that sells up to 500 units, or $500 for any winner that sells 501 units or more. As always, designers can earn more (in the form of $2 per shirt) when their design sells at the higher $15 price on the days following the first day of sales. As always, the three most popular Derby winners will be printed next weekend, and they’ll all be getting paid as described above.

Designers who are capable of setting up print-ready vector files of their t-shirt designs have the opportunity to bypass the derby and submit shirt designs of any theme directly to Woot. Check out the What is Woot? page for details. If selected, you’ll be getting paid the same $250 or $500 (plus $2 per shirt for shirts sold after the first day of sales) as the Derby winners receive.

If you’re a fan of the Derby, make sure you check out the Derby statistics page and the Derby fan blog Best Losers.

03 October 2007 ~ 2 Comments

UT Grand Prix


The UT Grand Prix website has been updated to show 1000 designs. Of these, one will be the Grand Prize winner of 3,000 yen. You can help determine who the top 100 finalists for the prize are by voting on the designs you like.

And there’s a neat little prediction contest for voters- 100 people who correctly predict the Grand Prize winner will win a copy of that shirt. Pretty cool, you don’t see sites offering prizes for the voters very often (although they definitely should!). This part of the competition continues until October 24th, 2007 so register your votes and predictions before then.

02 October 2007 ~ 0 Comments

T-Shirt Contest from Drawn! and Bountee


Bountee (artist-created tees) and Drawn! (illustration blog) have joined forces to create what I believe is Bountee’s first contest. Users are encouraged to upload shirt designs with the theme of “creativity and inspiration.” Just tag your entry with “drawn.ca” and you’re good to go.

There are some cool prizes in the mix. First place gets 31 free shirts (a shirt for each day in the month) and a $75 gift certificate for BlueFlip Art (a site selling great art prints). A runner-up will earn 5 shirts and a $25 BlueFlip Art gift certificate.

Submit before October 31st for your chance to win. Or, check out the submissions so far and vote here.

02 October 2007 ~ 0 Comments

Uneetee’s September $1500 Winner


Ladies and gentlemen, feast your eyes on Livinglife by Tan Wei Hau, Uneetee’s September Grand Prize winner. It’s a great shirt, the expressive quality of the lines definitely stands out from the rest of the catalog. The inclusion of puff ink is also worth noting- I don’t recall seeing Uneetee do that before. I wonder if they’ll be using more variety in inks to help compete with the likes of Design By Humans?

Livinglife won $1500 for being selected as the September winner. The October contest is currently underway, so submit now for your chance at the prize. Or, vote on the current crop of contestants and help Uneetee narrow things down to a top twenty.

01 October 2007 ~ 0 Comments

New Shirt Monday at Threadless


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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!