KitschGlitch

KitschGlitch

The 90’s were indeed a garish time. Instead of a little introspection, reevaluation, or a lateral move; we as a society took Herring, The Memphis stile, and the MTV of the 80’s and cranked it to 11. It’s hard to say though whether this is actually suppose to be 90’s or 80’s. The yellow, blue, purple is definitely 90’s, but the metallics put this design clearly in the 80’s metal or blank VHS camp. The deign itself is somewhat reminiscent of a Judas Priest album cover. It’d be interesting to know which decade the artist was going for.

In any case the name for this work is a bit of a misnomer. Gradients and garish colors are actually in vogue at the moment and have been for some time within the world of fine art; just ask Felipe Pantone. The shapes themselves aren’t too unusual to see either, Therefore it doesn’t seem like this is really “kitsch”. It seems like the lines cutting through the rest of the shape are suppose to supply the “glitch” of this work, but without distortion/ shifting of segments from the surrounding shapes this can’t really be called glitch either. The desire for alliteration is probably to blame here. “Ambiguous Nostalgia” might be more apt, or something about how style is cyclical or parasitic in nature maybe. Regardless it’s a fantastic abstract that would actually require a lot of patience and technical knowledge to pull off in most software.

Design by: Roberlan
Price:  $19.90 @ Redbubble
Colors: White, Black, Grey, Blue, Light Blue, Maroon, Purple

Death Blooms

Death Blooms

Many artists have a preferred scale to work at; part of this is familiarity and habit, but certain media, certain styles, and certain subjects work better, or sometimes not at all, at specific scales. In order to support oneself as an artist though it is essential that artists experiment with different scales as larger sizes sell less for more and medium vice versa. Still, it isn’t practical to make a 20 foot lithograph, and Guernica wouldn’t have 1/12th it’s power at 11.5 x 25.5 inches. One of the nice things about the digital tools is that it has allowed artists to simulate different media at any scale and today a 2D artists is only limited by resolution and the availability of subjects to manipulate.

When making a digital collage though one is effectively working outside the constraints that originally lent character to the physical version; one has effectively eliminated the limitation of scale, incongruous lighting/ hue, and availability of materials. The incongruities that these issues caused was what gave them a unique character when compared to prints, illustrations, and paintings of the past. This tends to lend digital collages artists a distinct characteristic that one doesn’t see in the art of their forebears.

This image isn’t a painting, and it doesn’t feel like it would ever have been a collage. It feels “mixed media”, but it is definitely too modern in its tone, aesthetic, forms, to be anything but contemporary. The word that best seems to describe all of the components, and the work as a whole is “incongruous”. This isn’t to say that the work feels confused, but rather, that the work has a shifting uneasiness about it that makes it all the more captivating.

The woman as a whole seems sad, but then you look at her downward gaze and see contempt; you reevaluate, “is that ennui”, but there’s a skull shooting out of her head. Is the skull death, or a representation of mental illness? Both interpretations could work, but there’s something of a violence in the skull that isn’t there in the woman’s face. Is the skull screaming, in motion, is it animate or inanimate? Who’s to say. What strikes me about this initial impression though is that while the title is ‘Death Blooms’ and there are flowers all over the picture, I can’t help but think of fungus and rot…perhaps mold while looking at this image. In terms of execution, it feels like the girl and the skull would be a wheat paste design, the flowers in the foreground feel like an illustration, the back circle feels like origami paper and a picture of a kumiko screen. The limited pallet ties it all in together while reinforcing the overall mood of the piece. It has an interesting overall silhouette. Its ambiguity gives it broad appeal. I think that this image is one that a person could live with and look at often and never be sure of the conclusion they draw about what’s going on, while retaining a certain feeling from it like what is held in the eyes of the female figure.

Design by: Kingnamu
Price:  $20.00 @ Threadless
Colors: Black, White, Grey

Nesting Doll

Nesting Doll

There’s something about a negative. You can take an image and easily invert it and the result are objective and yet there’s something ominous and inherently subversive feeling about the resulting image. “Nesting Dolls” is like that in a way- and to an extent. On the face of it it appears to be the idea of an x-ray performed on a nesting doll, but the skeleton isn’t actually that of a human; caricatured or otherwise. There’s something beckoning cat and ghoulish about the resulting of the image. One needs to look no further than the upside down heart to see that there is intention behind the incongruities of the image.

Maybe it’s not a nesting doll at all but something more akin to the monk enshrined in a buddhist statue. Are the swirls a nod to anime conventions? The Blue and white feels like a bit of a nod to Chinese porcelain, perhaps not as the blue is a bit dark for that. It’s a rather ambiguous image. It works well as a shape and in conveying a mood, but if there’s an overlying idea behind the image it’d be hard to guess. An overlay of skeletons, suggesting the many layers you’d find in a Russian doll, might help clarify things; then again that might have made the image a bit to busy. This image feels like one that you have to take as is. It is well constructed and visually interesting, but trying to make heads or tails of its messaging is a losing battle.


Design by: Ali Gulec
Price:  $19.90 @ Redbubble
Colors: White, Black, Grey, Blue, Light Blue,

The Great Goat

The Great Goat

Employing satanic imagery while avoiding the pitfalls inherent in the teenage angst connotation it often represents is a difficult line to toe. The most effective way to navigate, to proceed, seems to be hyper-realism in most cases; it’s as if the skill of the execution and the artistic maturity implied therein serves as one of the few effective wards to mainstream criticism.

The artist here pulls it off well and in spades. The detail within the goat figure is enough to make even the most accomplished engraver of antiquity hang their their head, and tip their hat in acknowledgement to the evident skill contained within the execution of this design . The background pattern points to psychedelia, to the idea of existence and vitality behind discernible reality of existence- to mysticism. This work takes something niche and fringe and through masterful execution, gives it standing to exist within the context of the fixedly mundane world we as people seem to operate in.

It isn’t enough to want to counterbalance the norm. To successfully ‘David and Goliath’ one needs to bring one’s A-game. The artist here is using satanic and “pagan” imagery; but it’s modernized by the background and in a way that suggests that the backing ideology is more than just reactive: that the ideas expand out past the conversation of opposition. The figure behind the goat that points to a sphere is perhaps tribal (for lack of a better term), but it points to a time wherein humanity was open to things not readily discernible. The darkness is ominous. it exists, but might be benign. The question of the image isn’t as much as challenge as a question: “what if evil exist’s more as a blunt and pervasive inclination, rather than a sharp pernicious instrument employed by one’s fellow man”.


Design by: RottenFantom
Price:  $21.56 @ Redbubble
Colors: Black

Dark Coffee

Dark Coffee

Of course Death Drinks out of a pentagram mug; darkness, kitsch, pop, and irony. Nothing is serious to a certain age. Style mostly falls by the wayside with time as well. The death and style of the image is therefore an affirmation to the wearer that they haven’t passed a certain and inevitable threshold. There’s a risk in an image like this is that it can be perceived as “death lite” which in the context of culture can often stray into rockabilly/ horror punk territory. It may be the case though that as these genres have become increasingly irrelevant and antiquated that a design that might reference something specific is now merely referencing something vintage; not the meaning of the subject but the feeling of a bygone era.

It’d be interesting to debate what is in fact the best depiction of the Grim Reaper within pop culture. There’s a clear answer for satan, but there’s been a lot of great depictions of Death within the last decade or so. The design is very reminiscent of Boneface‘s work on the Queens of the Stone Age’s album “Like Clockwork”. One of the more interesting challenges as an artist is to convey emotion without facial cues. The tilt of the head fells wistful, but somehow there’s an awkward giddiness to the skeletal structure. There’s something- “awkward kid on picture day” that is surprising to find in a picture of Death; perhaps that’s the appeal of the image: the acknowledgment that death might in fact be as mundane as anything else.

Design by: Kooky_Love
Price:  $20.00 @ Threadless
Colors: Green, Blue, Black

All Spaced Out

All Spaced Out

Ormiston has this great vintage collage aesthetic. The texture, the tonality makes the image feel as though it were cut from a National Geographic from the 70’s while the solid backdrop modernizes the image. It’s like macrame and houseplants in a chic converted industrial loft. Unlike most of his other images within his oeuvre this one doesn’t rely on a central figure to pull everything together, or not quite anyways.

The absence of a figure with a space scene superimposed creates a more dynamic point of focus… it allows the figure to be timeless in a way that no human figure can actually be. It feels somewhat Ziggy Stardust or “Moonmen“, somewhat reminiscent of Baldessari or Richard Hamilton. The shadows are a very nice touch, alongside the color shift in the leg section that seem to suggest stocking, and possibly nudity, one can tell that Ormiston is an artist that pays close attention to detail. Normally the rectangle itself would be an issue. The rocks serving as satellites around the central figure/ the void add a dynamism that allows the image to work as an apparel design. Honestly if there’s one complaint to be had with the artist over the image is the fact that he hasn’t explored a whole colorway line with this idea. Different models, different voids, different satellites to break up the rectangles of different colors. This image is simple, perhaps deceptively so, however it is no more complicated then it needs to be and works far better than it has any right to given its simplicity.

Design by: James Ormiston
Price:  $21.97 @ Redbubble
Colors: Grey, Black, Blue

Crystal Seer

Crystal Seer

The whole kawaii ghoul look seems to be in vogue at the moment. This design is very much in keeping with this american animation style and wouldn’t look particularly out of place in shows like: “Adventure Time”, “Kipo”, “Rick and Morty”, or “Midnight Gospel”. Everything from the skull, to the floating form, to the fangs, and above all else the double face of the figure, a subtle wink to the proclivity of drug users towards children’s shows, is in perfect step with the zeitgeist. The double face also serving to highlight the anger, via the fangs, and the dumbfounded expression (the smaller mouth) with which young people feel as they face the void of modern life.

Whether this is a look a sort of convention that will become outmoded remains to be seen, but for now it’s going strong. One thing that is unique about the image is the color pallet. vaporwave seems to sort of have the market cornered on pastels, but pastel goth as an aesthetic has a lot of potential, just no clear champion at the moment. Brando Chiesa always comes to mind, but he doesn’t have the reach. Crystals/ geodes also are also a motif that seems to have gained in popularity in culture and goth culture in particular over the past few years. Not sure if that’s just “Steven Universe” or if there’s something else to that. The image works well, although more detail couldn’t have hurt. Still it’s a good shape/ design, in keeping with the times, and just ambiguous enough to say something without saying it loud enough to paint the wearer into a corner; for that reason we recommend the design.

Design by: Obinsun
Price:  $25.20 @ Redbubble
Colors: Black, White, Maroon, Red, Blue, Green, Purple

Black Hole

Black Hole

Designs like these are not particularly easy to write about. They are what they are. They don’t feel like ornament, nor like pattern or colorway. You can try for deeper meaning but for the most part you like this design either for the shape or color, or for the resulting mood. The design is sort of a subtle note- a tone poem in visual form. One thing that the image is clearly not however is a depiction of a black hole; If anything it looks like a feeder ring you’d see on an aquascaped aquarium.

So what to say about the image… The reddish pink works well; it’s enough to suggest blood, something primal, without slipping into goth kid territory. The stars are actually more colorful than they have any right to be and it adds a bit of glamour to an image that might otherwise succumb to melodrama. The texture is quite good, very subtle. You can see the areas of clouds that were sampled versus areas that were brushed in, but the transition is subtle enough that it feels more like an effect than a product of limitation.

A better, more accurate title might help with the piece. Then again the current title is probably more searchable than any alternative one might come up with. Perhaps something more Damien Hirst, more obtuse would be good. In any case if you’re in the market for a moody abstract teetering on the precipice of goth look no further.

Design by: Jorge Lopez
Price:  $20.73 @ Redbubble
Colors: Black

David With Skull

David With Skull

“David with Skull” is a diamond in the rough. While it obvious is a specimen vaporwave and synthwave aesthetic and leans heavy on their stylistic vernaculars it nevertheless manages to stand on its own while avoiding some of the major pitfalls that its contemporaries often fall prey to.

The vaporwave conventions that the work uses are: statue from antiquity, stature cut into sections, the inclusion or overlay of thin geometric shapes. The color pallet is patent synthwave. What the image does differently is the pink and grey wavy stripes at the top of the figure, The vaporwave blue on the skull that diverges from standard synthwave coloring. The image can just as easily be said to be notable for the conventions it ignores: The lack of a framing rectangle, the absence of a grid, and above all else is the potentially problematic inclusion of Kanji for no apparent reason.

Past the conventions the image is interesting in that it actually feels as though the artist is acknowledging the story behind the statue, rather than just using it to take up space. The pink over the eyes ads intensity and seems to suggest rage. The skull could either represent David’s mortality or David as an agent of death in his upcoming fight. The setting sun, suggests a western style showdown and is then reinforced with the downward pointing triangles. One of the things about vaporwave is often that it feels like a non-descript mess of things meant to relax via the mindlessness of paying attention. This work doesn’t feel like that at all.

Design by: Jay Bayne
Price:  $20.73 @ Redbubble
Colors: Black, White

The Black Knight Rises

The Black Knight Rises

This is a pretty good mashup as there are plenty of obvious parallels between the two IP’s. It seems as though”Monty Python and the Holy Grail” is sort of in a weird known and unknown place within popular culture. Regardless of its current status it almost certainly will remain as timeless as 3 stooges or Abbot and Costello within the annuls of comedy, just with better visuals and one liners. In any case, having the black knight stand in for the dark Knight is a pretty obvious comparison; besides the similarities in names there’s each one’s absurd ability to continue fighting after the injuries they sustain over the course of their respective movies, or the misguidedness of their stated missions i.e. the bridge isn’t worth guarding and Batman would do more for society by just donating his money rather than playing vigilante. Once more the bunny and the bat symbols- terrifying.

It’s not a design that it doesn’t take itself particularly seriously and would probably suggests the same of any wearer. However in spite of the silliness of the subject, the low-hanging-fruit nature of the spoof, it is well executed. More and more low culture is becoming high culture, or the distinction is getting progressively more nebulous. For that reason and for Python’s growing age maybe this could scream sophistication if not now then in the future. Who’s to say?

Design by: Obvian
Price:  $22.00 @ TeeFury
Colors: Black

Lifeful Skull

Lifeful Skull

All there’s really to say is that it’s well done and kinda amazing. It could hint at a larger worker, an update for the memento mori. As it stands it’s very- of its time with the geometry framing a cutout in overlapping gradients. The one piece of the work that is unusual is the color grading of the skull; it works well, but the resulting texture is rougher than you would ever see on a commercially done work of art. The roughness of the effect gives it a retro/ dada era collage feel; though the color pallet is very clearly late teens early 2020’s. The image is compelling in that it feels simultaneously flat and 3-dimensional. The effect is somewhat like that of cel shading, but breaks the effect in too many areas to seem passable in that way. The image sort of works as an optical illusion if one looks at it long enough. Realistically though this image isn’t about anything but not everything needs to be.

Design by: Ali Gulec
Price:  $19.07@ Redbubble
Colors: White, Grey, Black

Sound City

Sound City

You Can’t argue that it’s an aesthetically pleasing image. Nor can one argue that it works well within the context of apparel that the design’s shape fits perfectly as a badge upon the shirt. There is something about the messaging of the image, where form meets intent, however that feels a bit questionable.

Many designs will take and try and modernize an old style. The entirety of the 60’s style was predicated on Nouveau with the colors turned to 11; the idea being to represent the confluence of nature (as a symbol of peace and serenity) and psychedelics (“heightened consciousness” and vitality). This design takes art deco and is trying to adapt it to rock and roll. It’s an ok idea. Stylistically this works, although Deco is more aristocratic and industrialists and rock and roll was more poor and downtrodden. The idea is theoretically achievable; not all mashups need to make sense in order to work.

The problem with the design past this is when figures out who did it first. Led Zepplin’s album “Mothership“, a 2008 “best of” album already featured this art style via Shepard Fairey. When an idea of mixing an old style (Deco), is applied to an old band (Zepplin) performing in a largely outmoded style (R&R), is then rehashed a decade later what you potentially have is something that reaffirms the vapidness of the very thing the latest artist may have sought to lionize.

Why highlight this design then? Well, as was said before: it’s aesthetically pleasing. Beyond that the color gradient and it’s simulation of a metallic glean is a nice touch. That there almost appears to be a woodgrain upon the speaker cabinets paired with the clean line work provides a nice contrast. Above all else it’s a nice design and few people care what anything suggests or means. So if you like the design, go for it.

Design by: Gamma-Ray
Price:  $22.00 @ TeeFury
Colors: Black

Tubes of Wonder

Tubes of Wonder

There is no shortage of abstract works available on the various print on demand sites; even within the world of “fine art” the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of which works are celebrated can seem rather arbitrary to both those on the ins and outside of the art world. What then is the criteria by which we should judge these works in general or this work specifically? What makes this work worth purchasing or the artist worth supporting?

One of the main questions when looking at an abstract work, specifically a non-objective (not representing any discernable forms) are the context, colors, shapes, and overall composition. Of these ideas the context is usually the most nuanced and often, even among the experts, neglected aspects of an abstract work. Has this been done before/ is this work an expression of a new idea such as the first monochrome painting or the first “happening“. Since Modern art displaced classical art, and to an extant representational art within popular taste the idea and intent of artists, and the context of their formation, has supplanted skill as the metric with which art is judged; at least, that is suppose to be the idea, but does the 100th Rothko or Pollock really expressing anything new? This is all a bit of a tangent, because “Tube’s of wonder” isn’t anything new; it doesn’t pretend to be. The other criteria with which abstract work is to be judges is what ought to be brought to bear upon the design and based on those criteria this design does quite well.

The colors of the work are pleasant- perhaps, Miami/ LA, 90’s, or tropical. The gentles washes of color contrasting nicely with the hard edges of the shapes. The shapes themselves offer interesting easter eggs for those that care to look and suggest: Klimt, Miro, futurism, and horror vacuii in various places. The composition is both tight while managing a loose feel in terms of composition and is again reinforced by the contrast of color and form. Lastly what is interesting about the piece is the use of circles and lines, specifically the fact that if you put a number of circles above a line you will end up with overlapping faces with shifting expressions depending upon how you pair the circles. The image is good at a distance and more interesting and nuanced from up close. It is busy without screaming for attention and still maintains a certain level of harmony overall and for this reason, rather than some context dependent or contextual statement, “tubes of wonder” serves as an excellent example of a (non-objective) abstract work within the context of apparel.



Design by: JettJag
Price:  $22.88 @ Redbubble
Colors: Black, Dark Grey, Dark Blue, Tan, Brown

Possibilities in Order

Possibilities in Order

One of the things that is frustrating about most- all print on design sites is that they don’t have a description section wherein the artist can explain what the design is, what it’s about, or why they chose to portray their subject in the way that they did. Why Bring this up? This shirt’s design is paying tribute to a show called “Fringe” that ran from 2008 to 2013. It was fairly popular, but didn’t make a big dent on the cultural psyche the way shows like “Breaking Bad” or “The Wire” did. Looking at this shirt nearly a decade later the odds that anyone will know what the design is about is fairly small but as the wearer of the shirt you’d feel a little silly if you bought and wore it because you liked the image, only to find out it’s referencing a show you’ve never seen when someone walks up to you to talk about the show, reasonably assuming that you’ve seen it, because you’re wearing the shirt.

This design is a perfect example to bring up this industry gripe, because even outside the context of a fairly successful tv show it’s a great design. The fact that it also manages to reference a famous work of surrealist art by Renee Magritte doesn’t hurt either. The point being that it’s a strong image that looks awesome, but you wan’t to at least know what a design is referencing, if anything, before you wear it.

The design has a lot of great elements to it. Did you notice the six fingers? The way that hand is drawn is superb; it’s not too clean, nor does it feel too crude- like a sketch. The texture on the nimbus makes it feel like an old coin or a seal, and pulls it back from the figure in a subtle way. The woman within the smoke, the golden spiral on the sea horse, these are references to the show, but they serve as charming visual easter eggs even for the uninformed. Watch the show or don’t, this is still a design worth having.

Design by: ZeroBriant
Price:  $22.00 @ Teefury
Colors: Black

Botanical Pattern 10

Botanical Pattern 10

Beyond the composition, what really makes this design, and indeed all the designs within the artists ‘Botanical Pattern’, series is the unorthodox use of color. The compositions themselves also very good. Within the artist’s work there are generally a mix of flower sizes, with just the right amount of negative space. The sprig of leaves are smart compositional elements that serves to counterbalance the largest flower without competing for attention.

What makes an image like this difficult to pull off is that it’s difficult to end it at the bottom without ether being cut off (which is ugly) or appear floating (which can be distracting). You see this issue in any image that doesn’t have a framing shape, but for element that are thinner like plant stems, it will be much harder to taper or fade out the ends in a satisfactory way. The artists decision to bunch the flowers at the base seems to resolve the issue, while leaving us to wonder whether this is a bouquet or excerpt of a natural scene. Most impressive though is the balance achieved within the image. The triangular- talon shape of the composition as a whole would generally lead to the image feeling lopsided, but Lela has managed it.

The color pallet is interesting and a bit hard to place. Most likely it is Art Decco inspired. Although it wouldn’t necessarily be out of place in a Patrick Nagel painting or any of the popular cartoons from the late 80’s e.g. “Thundercats”, “He Man”, “GI Joe”, etc. Whatever the inspiration, the colors feel moody, and maybe more ‘old Hollywood glamour” than luxurious. All of which is to say that it’s an interesting work compositionally and a unique work by way of coloration.

Design by: Blue Lela
Price:  $21.06 @ Redbubble
Colors: Black, White, Dark Grey

Coral Snake

Coral Snake

For a site predicated on producing some of the cheapest shirts on the market it’s surprising how strong some of the designs on 6dollarshirts.com are. While shirts now run $9 to $12 on the site it’s still cheaper than any other site that’s been featured on this blog. “Coral Snake” isn’t a design that needs or warrants much analysis. It is what is. The colors are nice, the style is bold. There aren’t really any myths or connotations to this particular species in spite of the fact that coral snakes are apparently the most poisonous snakes in North America. With that being said here are some facts:

1. Coral Snakes have small non-retractable fangs and as a result they chew on their prey to introduce their venom.
2. The rhyme to distinguish coral snakes from their non-poisonous lookalikes is: Red on yellow (banding) kill a fellow, red on black friend of Jack.
3. They generally reach an adult size of 2 feet and can live up to 7 years in captivity.

Design by: NA
Price:  $9.00 @ 6 Dollar Shirt
Colors: Black, Navy

Rabbit Hole

Rabbit Hole

Rabbits as a symbol haven’t really gotten their due in recent years. Owls had their time in the mid oughts, lions and wolves seem to be in ascendance, but it’s been a long time since “Watership Down” and Peter Rabbit were made or were culturally relevant. In spite of the fact that the color pallet is of the moment, this design seems to be like a bit of a throwback to the times in which the topic of animal testing got the same, if not more coverage than that of global warming. Everything is plastics and carbon now. It’s weird to age and wonder how, why, and when societal priorities shifted.

The image is interesting in that the colors seem Aposematic (warning colors); There’s something sickly and yet violent about the combination. The pink is vibrant and lively, as if expressing joy in the clinical and dangerous nature that this particular hue of green would seem to represent. Coupled with the sharp edges of the geometry, the running zoetropic progression of the rabbits, there’s something sinister about this design that makes it interesting.

Design by: Bearded Lady
Price:  $22.38 @ Redbubble
Colors: Black, Dark Grey, Blue, Brown, Purple,

Bleeding Heart Colors

Bleeding Heart Colors

To work with a cliche generally means that an artist is either exceedingly confident or ignorant. In our times of bathos to risk the sincerity and shorthand of hearts and eyes is to risk one’s reputation. Cliches within art and design represent a hill, a mountain of mediocrity and sentiment one has to push a boulder (of taste and craft) up in order to traverse. The use of visual shorthand that hearts and the human eye represent risks undermining any design regardless of how masterful the execution, which is why it is so impressive when someone finally manages to do it.

This design doesn’t seem to come from nowhere however. Daft Punk has already dawned black outfits for a decade while using colored LED’s in their helmets. Their look was that of sophistication and fun, which this design seems to want to emulate. The shading of the heart is well done and would have to be. While wearing a heart is difficult to pull off, the use of a black heart should want to suggest something else about the wearer then what this design actually achieves.There is no angst in this image. By subverting the black heart trope the artist actually manages to use it as a stepping stone to further the impact of the design.

The image would still function if it were nothing but red bleeding from the heart, but by using CYM in the pallet, the artist manages to both suggest club going, as well as graphic design knowledge for the wearer. The image is toned down, it’s handling subtle and nuanced where something more overt would clash with the force of the trope. Not every item in an outfit can be a statement piece. The artist seems to have had this in mind when designing this work and managed to make it work.

Design by: Tobe Fonseca
Price:  $25.00 @ RiptApparel
Colors: Black, Dark Grey, Navy, Red

Elven Archer

Elven Archer

The interesting thing about images like “Elven Archer” is that they allow the viewer to Plumb the depth of their pop culture knowledge for influences. Admittedly the other piece of what makes wearing a design like this enjoyable is the predominant connotation of mushroom imagery within pop culture and the deniability one generally has due to the other roles they play in nature, medicine, food, and as a naturalistic and, conversely alien motif within various forms of fiction.

It would be surprising if the human figure wasn’t meant to be Link from “Zelda“. The fact that there are jellyfish, ‘Diri’ as they’re called in-game, pretty much leaves no doubt. The eyes paired with the mushrooms, however seem very “Midnight Gospel”. The swirls on the fox’s shoulder and hip seem a bit out of place; the east asian/ Okami style isn’t represented anywhere else within the image. Honestly, it’s the mushrooms that are the hardest to pin down. What immediately comes to mind is the forest from the Studio Ghibli classic “Nausicaa in the Valley of the Wind“, however there are probably a million other instances of mushrooms in this style.

It’s rare and refreshing to see a design on t-shirt websites that look as though they were actually “hand drawn”. Part of the charm of this image is in that it looks like something one would sketch in a notebook during a particularly long class lecture. The question is whether the mental flight of fancy or the future wearers proclivities skew towards psilocybin, video games, or both.

Design by: Freeminds
Price:  $22.00 @ Teefury
Colors: Black, Blue, Light Blue

Now more than Ever

Now more than Ever

There’s a lot going on in this piece, and it’s a testament to the skill and creative intuition of the artist that everything seems to come together at both the macro and micro levels within this work. The use of digital and realistic elements combine to give this image a graphic style and sense of abstract realism. The design is nebulous in a finding shapes in the clouds sense, but it is also impactful, bold and crisp in a way that gives the image power.

This image is balanced in a way that is not immediately perceptible upon a first glance. Upon an initial viewing much of the image seems soft and undefined. The clarity image starts with the outline and the sharp edges that feel reminiscent of Chinese or Japanese Calligraphy. If one looks into the image they will eventually notice that the clouds and mountain elements are actually photographs, and that this is in fact a bit of a collage piece. What keeps this image from feeling jagged though is the use of gradients to blend and soften the image while creating a vibrant sort of dreamscape that is ultimately punched through by the void that appears almost like a halo of the mountain there placed like a figure within the piece. There is something about the shape, and the wispiness it contains. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Goya’s “Saturn Devouring his Son” or Blake’s “The Ancient Days“. On that scale there is an abstract figure sitting hunched over and in mourning. Close up there is a figure looking into an eclipse, a void, and realizing the scale at which they live their life within the context of the universe.

The fun cool colors are deceptive. You’re not on a beach at sunset. The whole image in fact is deceptive. It’s not purely digital, it’s not abstract or representational. What you choose to see and feel from this image, the amount of choice you have and the overall beauty of the composition is what makes this design great.

Design by: Adam Priester
Price:  $24.04 @ Redbubble
Colors: Black, White, Grey, Creme, Light Blue

Critical Culture

Critical Culture

This work, and indeed the entirety of this artist’s untitled series, does a good job of toeing the line between ancient and modern. The Image possess a bold simplicity like the monochromatic works of Frank Stella, but with the addition of representation form. This all raises the question: in a world of $20 shirts, will people pay nearly 30 for simplicity?

There’s something about this image that feels ancient. Perhaps the closest example of ancient art might be the geoglyphs that make up the Nazca Lines, particularly the “spider”. The boldness of the shape suggests a carving or a relief work. The heft of the black shapes contrasted with the delicacy of the white lines suggesting a grand scale. There is something modern in this design as well; modern in the sense of late mid-century abstraction or more recently, in the “super flat” and simplistic corporate art style. When looking at art is alway interesting to notice the tool marks, or how the tool used shaped the image. In the case of this image you can see the rectangles that served as the building block for the overall shape, the rounded corners that Apple seems to have made ubiquitous; watch any tutorial about pictographic logo design and this composition will instantly make sense. All of this is to say while it need not have been a digital artwork, it doesn’t seem like it could have been anything else, which is what fundamentally makes it modern- or contemporary.

It’s strange how pricing works, “Supreme” shirts sell for hundred, but that is only by the grace of brand cachet. Without that brand identity could their shirts or this one sell at such high prices? There is of course the “price-quality effect” of perceived value, but that will only get a brand or artist so far on its own. People want to get their money’s worth, beyond marketing psychology, the tendency might be said to be that in looking for simplicity we hope for it to be deceptive e.g. a non-assuming pair of bespoke dress shoes. This type of simplicity allows the owner a certain feeling of superiority, of being “in the know”. While this is a great design, and again a great series by the artist, at this price and on a print on demand platform it’s hard to see sales going through the roof.

Design by: avenear
Price:  $28.22 @ Redbubble
Colors: Black, White, Grey

L. the Third

L. the Third

The thing about wearing an anime shirt is that there are certain assumptions that go along with. True, there’s less and less of a stigma associated with anime each year, nevertheless it still has a certain- juvenile association. The interesting thing about this design though is it comes about as close as an anime design can of escaping the judgement while still employing a cartoon style.

Stylistically this image feels both retro and modern in its use of shapes and cell shading that almost in a way that suggests cutouts and papercraft. The former is growing in popularity in anime fan art, and the ladder is slowly making its way into more and more museum collection. The pallet is unique, and the skewed rectangular background gives the composition an interesting mid-century kind of feel. The fact that lupin is rather obscure, within America at least, actually works in the designs favor. The image is fun, stylized, and dynamic; in sporting something slightly obscure you’ll escape the eye rolls and perhaps more easily find those in the know or worth knowing.

Design by: Idriu95
Price:  $22.00 @ Teefury
Colors: Black, Navy

Bloom

Bloom

The use of Greek and Roman statues has seen a huge uptick in the past decade thanks to the rise of Vaporware and its aesthetic. While the statue here may be said to be the primarily element and the gradients at the bottom might suggest a further connection these are where the similarities end: one in form, one in technique. Outside the gradient there isn’t anything to suggest the digital which is a key component to that medium. While this image was almost certainly created via digital software it maintains a traditional collage look which is refreshing in how out of fashion it is- within the world of fashion. Supposedly Collage as a website aesthetic is on trending in 2021. Whether it will stay with the nerds or trickle down to the plebes is anyone’s guess.

The color pallet is interesting; the red, blue, yellow; combined with red, white, and green doesn’t seem like it should work. It’s only the clever use of zoning and negative space that prevents the clash. You don’t really see this image all at once and the midway isn’t, but seems like the marred section of the body which jumps your gaze to another section instead of allowing it to wander. The big circle round back anchors the piece in space while the smaller one prevents you from missing the arm. It’s very well thought out.

Design by: Boldndelicious
Price:  $22.00 @ Redbubble
Colors: Black, White, Grey, Tan, Light Blue

Vampire

Vampire

This image seems pretty straight forward. You see the fangs, and the fangs, and the skull without a lower jaw and you think ‘metal’. It’s a reasonable assumption, but there are elements that push it- if not outside the genre, than to opposite corners, its subcategories and their individual stylistic elements. Within Here you can see Black Metal, Goth Metal, perhaps Rockabilly, certainly horror punk. Sometimes these differences in sound or art style are subtle other times they’re more pronounced.

The Skull is the most obvious ‘metal’ element within the image, but it’s the texturing that really makes this feel like a ‘metal’ shirt. The line work and shading on the women though is more- manga than anything. The form itself is pinup, hence the rockabilly/ horror punk suggestion. The fact that the crescent moon is stamped on the image that contoured to the form is interesting; as is the fact that the moon is waning rather that waxing. This might be because Westerners, at least, seem to like objects to point right instead of left within compositions. Whether this is true in Russia (where they instead write right to left) is uncertain.

The lip bight is one of the more enigmatic elements of the image. Is it for the skull or for someone something else that the women is looking are way for. The rectangle here works because it is horizontal instead of vertical, which allows the former to succeed where the ladder nearly always fails. Past that the shape actually adds interest to scene. It’s a bit of a fourth wall break, because it forces us to ask “how are we seeing this and through what”. Is it a tv, a mirror, a window, it’s hard to say. It’s hard to find a design that’s both dark and post-modern.


Design by: Tony_kei
Price:  $20.00 @ Threadless
Colors: Black