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

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

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

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

Contact

Contact

Isometric views are a great way to get around the cropping issues when depicting a scene for apparel or print in general. You’ve got to cut the image off somewhere. This image feels like you’ve just been handed a sci-fi horror slice of cake featuring the focal point, the piece of honor for the whole desert. The use of color even feels sumptuous. The image is modern and retro and feels as though it touches on a number of decades through either form, style, or color.

Firstly there’s the space suit and ship, which is more or less in line with what was worn upon the original moon landing (60’s). There’s the isometric view (80’s). While the evil eye and body horror element is ancient, this depiction feels very early 2000’s (“Hellsing”, “Adventure Time”). The design for the glittering stars and the shading for the mist is more contemporary in feel; it’s somewhat reminiscent of the work of Mike Perry a las “Broad City”. The color pallet itself puts the work somewhere between the early oughts and now.

In looking through the various shirt websites one begins to see a lot of astronaut based images. Astronauts on skateboards, texting, playing basketball or guitar, astronaut skeletons floating through space. There have been enough of these images over the last two to three years to suggest that there is something about them that speaks to the times we are living in; pre, during, and maybe even post Corona. Is it the emptiness of space, the uncertainty, perhaps a future where more things are possible. The space suit is an interesting metaphor in that it is safe and contained and made for an environment wholly inhospitable to human existence. Regardless of what archetypal role, currently unspoken, the astronaut represents within the modern psyche, there’s no denying that it is aesthetically pleasing and represents fertile ground in the thematic sense.

Design by: MadCobra
Price:  $28.22 @ Redbubble
Colors: White, Dark Grey, Blue

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

Le Passage Des Morts Nouveaux

Le Passage Des Morts Nouveaux

Art Nouveau, or more accurately the style of Alphonse Mucha is somewhat of a staple among t-shirt graphics. The level of detail and sophistication required to pull it off these designs means that only those with a decent level of technical ability will try. The result is that among all the t-shirt design tropes and cliches Art Nouveau has the strongest consistency for quality images. The question then is: of all the designs available why single this one out?There are two main reasons to highlight this design over the other Mucha imitators.

The first reason is what this image gets right, namely: the subtle use of outlines to highlight the figure and the gothic church inspired framing. Mucha’s work was often informed by the limitations of the printing technology of his day. The bold outlines that became a hallmark of his style were to compensate for the lack of shading that could be achieved via reproduction/ commercial use. The cutaways, reminiscent of gothic windows served as a counterbalance to the organic vine or floral elements within the work. Both the cutaways and the outlines have been faithfully reproduced within the work as has Mucha’s propensity for draping women in swaths of fabric as a nod to Hellenistic sculpture/ antiquity.

The second reason to highlight this composition is the way in which it subverts Mucha’s style. While Mucha may have limited his pallet with the printers in mind, this design is even more spartan than that any design Mucha ever undertook thereby heightening the effect of a limited pallet. The cutaway the artist uses for the background is classic Mucha, however the way in which he tangle the grim reapers robes outside the boundaries of this cutaway is not something Mucha would ever have done. In portraying death the artist has chosen to suggest that it exists as something beyond what faith can hope to grasp or manage.

Most Art Nouveau designs merely borrow the motifs. This design is significant in that the composition subtly challenges religion in the context of art history.

Design by: Moutchy
Price:  $20.00 @ Threadless
Colors: Dark Grey

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,

Jung at Heart

Jung at Heart

Generally when a work is purported to be deep you can assume whatever’s said is somewhat disingenuous in that it is more likely to be justification for the asking price rather than an essential part of the composition. Maybe it worked differently in the past; when supplies were expensive and output was low, when you had to buy and mix you own pigments and painstakingly reach for realism, maybe then artists took their time and thought thematically as well as compositionally.

Artist today, and probably in the past, as a group and in general don’t sit down think of a theme or message and work from there; because it’s not a helpful place to start. What artist generally do is I want to paint ‘X’, and in some cases, I want to say ‘y’, but the form, follows function (x follows y). These stories artists make up about their work is for the buyer/ the consumer. While a painter needs to paint for the audience, if they’re to have a unique voice, then they will need to predominantly paint for themself.

All of this is to say that while Jung is in the title seems like an easy shortcut to give this work substance that it doesn’t need. The image works well. It’s interesting because of the use of color, texture, and geometry. The artist almost certainly didn’t compose this with Jungian symbols in mind and it would be shocking if they were well versed in Jungian psychology at all. It’s ill advised to take the shortcut of association to provide a piece meaning. At the same time this type of posturing pervades the art world and makes its participants all the more insufferable. The image works, it’s strong as a design and within the context of apparel. It’s beneath the work to reference Jung. The image doesn’t need it.

Design by: OrdinaryFox
Price:  $20.00 @ Threadless
Colors: Grey, Dark Grey

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

Hills are Alive

Hills are Alive

This work is obviously taken from the fairly well known GIF first created by the VFX artist Dan DeEntremont. It’s a great image and the main question is whether or not the lines are suppose to represent embroidery or Neon. Some places and elements within the image seem to point to one or the other. The periodic breaks in the lions would suggest neon, but some of the sharp corners would be impossible in that medium. If it were Neon then there would probably be some aural glow surrounding the lines. One thing to consider when rendering an image such as for apparel is that thinner lines break down faster than large patches (of ink) with repeated washings; as such it would be interesting to see how long this shirt would hold up. The confusion of implied medium isn’t the main issue with this image; The two parts that really hurt the piece are the oozy clip and the cheekbone. The clip just has too much curve on the left line which makes it look more like a receipt coming out of the bottom of the gun. The cheek bone extends just a bit too far and is in danger of making Julie Andrews look as though she may be in possession of a fine mustache. This image is interesting enough to warrant highlighting, but with a bit more attention to detail it could’ve been great.

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

Oxygen

Oxygen

Some images work as a narrative, some play upon the viewer’s associations, the work of GDBee is, by and large, tonal. There are a number of elements within the work who’s incongruities seem to ad interest to the image not by playing up a potential story of “how did they get there?”, but instead would have someone ask: “do all these elements and the potential contexts they imply speak to the nuance of feelings that the figure is experiencing?”

Tonally this work begins and ends with the figures eyes and expression. Whether it’s sad, resigned, depressed, or tired is hard to say. It seems like an expression one would associate with the color blue, or perhaps sunsets, or that sad after work feeling you can find yourself in on some evenings. This isn’t quite right, firs and foremost is the use of teal within the helmet. Without that color the sunset pallet idea would work. Then theres the red highlights that are more suggestive of a nightclub than anything else; maybe an ambulance or police car, but those would probably clash with figures demeanor. The way the figure is positioned is more of what you’d expect of someone sitting on a step than floating through space; the house slippers kind of add to this idea and would suggest the space setting is more metaphorical for the figures current emotional and/or psychological state.

What does floating in space or being submerged in water and then indifferent mean and is there a difference in how we think we’d experience them? The water is the helmet and its coloration, while space is obviously the background. Space may be said to be more “empty” or “isolated”, whereas water might be said to be more “insulated”. One can’t initially see this image and pedantically ponder this immediately because of three other elements: The escaping air, The ring of light, and the weird fog in the background of the circle. The air is almost a liquid, it’s in a cutesy style that is a bit incongruous with the rest of the work; This may suggest youth, or femininity, or just be a purely decorative element. It’s hard to render a gas leak in an image and this may have just been GDBee’s best guess at a solution. The light ring is almost certainly decorative; it adds dynamism to the image and is reminiscent of the Nasa Logo, but probably shouldn’t be read as having an interaction with the figure. Lastly there is the haze, which is honestly a bit baffling. It doesn’t seem to be glitch, it isn’t the right shapes or color for atmosphere, but perhaps the red hides the white lines that were originally the steps the figure was suppose to be on… In any case, the silhouette of the figure, of the circle work great; this is a remarkably well done piece with a strong enigmatic mood to it.


Design by: GDBee
Price:  $13.00 @ Teepublic
Colors: Black, White, Grey, Light Blue, Pink

Dungeons and Isometric Dragons

Dungeons and Isometric Dragons

What’s going on with Dungeons and Dragons? Why is this IPO still relegated to the moldy basements when “nerd culture” has already blown up over the past 5-10 years. While video games have come a long way it’s still things like D&D, Minecraft, Dwarf Fortress and the more “primitive games” that best serve as vehicles for user creativity. It seems like the founders should be better equipped to tap into this social acceptance of nerd culture, but they aren’t; the D&D has an imdb rating of 3 point 7./? How is it possible for a franchise that exists upon it’s ability to allow for creative narratives going to green light a script that’s that poorly written.

The image itself is amazing to the point that there appear to be a number of counterfeits even within the site it’s featured on. Good job Redbubble. The image works on the macro scale in that the sectioned column of a shape works well with the human form. It’s actually more difficult than you’d think to do a column on a shirt without it ending up looking phallic. Upon closer inspection there is the promise of an interesting story or an epic confrontation upon each level of the image. The color pallet though is what really makes this image special. Very few designs can work upon any color background and of those that do almost all of them will have to be black and white. The fact that this image has as much color as it does and still pulls this off is astonishing and a huge accomplishment. Isometric nostalgia and fantasy appreciation aside this is an amazing image that anyone should be able to appreciate.

Design by: Citysuarus
Price:  $24.21 @ Redbubble
Colors: Black, White, Grey, Yellow, Blue, Red, Green… any of 16 really

Ghost

Ghost

The synthesis here of Hollywood Glamour via a photo of Lauren Becall, and the deployment of Body Horror is inspired. Why isn’t this a film? Among the tinfoil hat communities of the internet there’s all this talk of Lizard people running around and pulling the strings; why not take that idea and place it in the romanticized and glamorous context of prewar Hollywood? Familiarizing the public with the censorship that the Hayes Code represented and the misguided steps that the temperance movement took could be explained and dramatized in a powerful way that could illustrate the dangers of conservatism and censorship within society.

The image itself is violent, somewhat seductive, and overall unsettling. The use of the pink lends this a dreamy danger, sort of a siren’s song component. The eyes though are nearly reptilian in their blueish green. The disdain and question written on the actresses face is one of asking: “do you still want what I represent”? The evil in the glamour, the colored highlights, this is a black and white image of the past that grows into ones nightmares. It’s horrifyingly beautiful and the story it suggests: a synthesis of the gilded age and the golden age of practical effects is a compelling idea.

Design by: DroopBomb
Price:  $12.00 @ Threadless
Colors: Black, Grey, Charcoal, Brown

Pughomet

Pughomet

Satanic imagery is interesting in that young adults may like it, but it has that association with the angsty goth phase that most of them would have seen or experienced in their early teens; as such the imagery sort of exists as a marker of arrested development. With the renaissance that has been taking place in the world or both Eastern and Western animation, the mixture of dark and mature themes and childish wonder have slowly become more intertwined and socially acceptable. The fact that Baphomet here is portrayed as a pug and softened further with stars and rainbow allows the image to work as dark symbolism of rebellion, while at the same time being humorous and a little self deprecating. Pre-pandemic irony and Bathos were the style of the day; whether or not that will still be the case in the post remains to be seen. If you want to learn more about modern day satanism you might do well to check out the documentary “Hail Satan?” about the satanist group that put a Baphomet statue next to a court house to protest the placement of a 10 Commandments statue within a public space. A bit of an aside Baphomet is supposed to be portrayed as having breasts, but perhaps that would be a step to far in the case of a pug hybrid.

Design by: Thiago Correa
Price:  $22.00 @ Teefury
Colors: Black, Navy, Blue, Charcoal

Mouse Explosion Cheese

Mouse Explosion Cheese

Packaging and character design are two criminally under appreciated forms of art, but if one were going to make a vinyl figure out of this character they wouldn’t have to do much of anything to use this image for the box. The character design is interesting, if admittedly a little impractical looking. The fashion design is certainly unique; somewhere between medieval armor, cybergoth, and 90’s rave wear. Ren Wei Pan seems to have developed a whole series of these anime pinup girls in animal themed costumes. With a little bit of world building there’d probably be an interesting story.

The reason ‘Mouse Cheese Explosion” was chosen as oppose to the 10-15 others in her store is that of all of them this was probably the least risqué. In thinking about that one might ask why it is that men generally wont wear shirts with hot, naked to semi-naked, women on them, but they will and regularly do get tattoos of naked women. Perhaps it’s that they can be covered up in most instances./? There also doesn’t seem to be this hesitation of female nudity on shirts for women themselves, though it’s admittedly not super common. With enough artistic merit, as is the case here, maybe it wouldn’t matter in any case.

Design by: Ren Wei
Price:  $20.00 @ Teepublic
Colors: Black, White, Grey, Red, Pink, Green, Purple, Blue, Light Blue

There’s Always Light

There’s Always Light

There are a lot of amazing digital artists that do well in terms of the old rectangular canvas format, with the rise of NFT’s the art form is really starting to get the recognition is deserves within that framework, but apparel design is something else. Sites like Society6 are primarily art print site, which means that they don’t ask people to modify works before trying to sell them as apparel; This is a huge mistake and it undermines the quality of the work as large rectangles are ill suited to the human body, male or female. Ninjajo is someone who seems to understand that the format should inform the design. ‘Theres Always Light’ could clearly fit and work within the rectangular format, but in adapting it to apparel and cutting out the rectangular framing he achieves a design that compliments the human form.

The design is much more nuanced than would be expected upon first glance. The rendering in painterly, with large swaths of color suggesting an application via pallet knife rather than brush. Even with the circle’s gradient, there is so much texture and sectioning; From a distance it might look lazy in the way that digital tools have come to allow artists to be, but it isn’t. Look closely and you can see the attention to detail in this background, this framing device. There are hours of work in this shape that most artist would just phone in. The silhouette of the shape is great. The weird 80’s call back swooshes with the halftone on the back are amazing, even if incongruous to a certain extent.

What’s nice about the image is that it seems to fall within the gritty realism camp of scifi speculation; things like ‘District 9’, or ‘Mad Max’. For all the millions- billions of dollars that go into Nasa, the rovers, are future in terms of space exploration look more like souped up erector sets then the space age sleekness that companies like Ferrari or Apple try to inspire within their designs. It’s nice that the wires are coming out the back of this design. It seems to imply a grittiness, a struggle, that adds weight and realism to the image.

Lastly and somewhat of a personal indulgence is the potential conversation starter that this image represents, Namely: In a distant future we may have the option of being uploaded into the cloud, downloaded into robotics, augmented by machines, or have the option of living forever in biologically human forms and which will people want. It’s an interesting question and each method has its merits. The image is great in that it subtly speaks to a future that we all know isn’t going to be as neat and tidy as our current media wants to portray.

Design by: NinjaJo
Price:  $21.55 @ Redbubble
Colors: Black, White, Grey, Maroon

Electric Street

Electric Street

Technical drawings are suppose to be precise in a way that precludes the expression of human emotion. This Design certainly has the precision, but still there is a definite and underlying expression. Looking at infrastructure, where the plan meets reality, in our daily lives and overtime the reality of existence slowly carves its way into the best of municipal intention.

This design doesn’t entertain the march of time ; there’s a definite feel to the piece, but it isn’t one of wear and tear. The electrical wires, the portrayal of the underlying infrastructure beneath the substrata boldly states the turmoil and chaos of modern existence. The shapes at the bottom are almost a sickly oil as violence seeping into the earth. Historically the slums of cities were placed downwind so that the rich didn’t have to live in the shadow of the byproducts of their wealth. This image is the spot. It’s where the underbelly of progress lay sick and noble in its complexity. Nowadays we don’t even see this.

The dehumanizing tendrils of industry are all tucked away within the urban landscapes. It’s left to the scale of our buildings now, clean monoliths, edifices of glass and granite to imply we feel nothing because everything is smooth to the touch and easy on the eye. In the past the jumbled electrical lines, these signs of industry might have led us to feel indignant, mystified by the forces that governed our lives. All of that is hidden now; We can’t see the chaos, we can only see the towers and exist within their shadows.

Design by: NinjaJo
Price:  $12.00 @ Threadless
Colors: Grey, White

Synchronize

Synchronize

Sometimes we choose a design based purely on aesthetics, sometimes it’s more the affiliation (I’m a fan of x), but other times a design can be aesthetically pleasing and simultaneously unassuming or ambiguous in a way that invites conversation without forcing the wearer to pledge any loyalty. This design has multiple elements going for it. Within this design our elements pertaining to: mid-century modern patterns, the ‘minimalist art style’ of popular video games and cartoons, science fiction, art history, and sacred geometry; That’s a lot of contextual heft for a design that at first glance would merely seem decorative.

Upon first viewing this pattern one might think of the Jetsons. There’s a definite space age/ early 60’s vibe to the design; but why? The answer is the lack of outlines as well as the space theme. while the block colors is within the realms of cartoons, no cartoon of the era was done without outlines. Today this style is called “minimalist art style”. This style can be seen in everything from ‘Samurai Jack‘ to video games such as ‘Journey’ or ‘Thomas was Alone’. While you don’t see it in the animation of the late 50’s, early 60’s, you will see it in the prints and patterns of the era.

It’s unfortunate that this style seems to have been saddled with the ‘minimalist’ moniker as minimalism, within the American context, will generally be though of in terms of: a pretentious modern art movement, zen buddhism, and Japanese interior design; all of which are completely unrelated to the works being done in contemporary animation. A better term would be ‘Cutout’ as in cutout paper, such as those done by Matisse in the the 40’s, and those works in the same tradition that now fall under the label of ‘paper craft’ within the context of fine art today.

More than anything the celestial form seems reminiscent of the art style contained within the classic scifi film ‘fantastic planet‘. The airbrushed detail at the top sets it apart from most of mid-century art. The inclusion of a mandala or random piece of sacred geometry enhances the uniqueness of the piece for its incongruity. Why the juxtaposition is hard to say. The two images work together aesthetically, but the underlying meanings of the association is a bit vexing. If you are a fan of scifi (‘SF’ is supposedly the term that distinguishes the noob from true fans, but…) , animation, mid-century whatever, or sacred non-sense this might just be the shirt for you.

Design by: Evan_Luza
Price:  $12.00 @ Threadless
Colors: Black, Dark Grey, Maroon, red, Navy, Blue, Purple

Flowers #01

Flowers #01

Generally speaking the inclusion of the word “love” within a design, never mind an overabundance of botanical elements within that same design, will tend to garner an image the indefensible, the reprehensible label of “hippie shit”. This design though is not “hippie shit”, primarily because the outlines on the flowers that make botanicals ‘pop’ steers the image away from the watercolor territory that is generally too soft, or earthy to be chic. While it is true the ‘love’ element in a square shape is somewhat reminiscent of the same painting turned statue by Robert Indiana from the 60’s, it also brings to mind logos like those of NeXT Computers or, more recently, Uniqlo.

The flowers allow the image to be both soft and electric while coming to within a razors edge of naive and soulless, hippy and corporate. The image comes closer to corporate though in spite of the message. The collage/ cutout design has been growing in popularity in the world of graphic design; what perhaps saves this image is how busy it is in terms of color and form as advertisements and packaging typically opt for a more borne down pallet to control the focal point of an image or perhaps to simplify production.

So where do hippies and corporate detachment intersect? What does this image remind you of? Give you a clue: Think old (hippie boomers), rich people playing at culture while trying to be hip. If you guessed “modern art museums” you win a prize! Ok, not really but doesn’t this just scream “MOMA Gift Shop!”? (Side note, all of these symbols: !?, ?!, ?!? are called ‘interrobangs’, which is awesome.) The image is a fusion of ‘fine art busy’ and corporate Minimalism. It works though. If anyone is going to be able to design something that balances artistic poverty (earthiness) and rich people predilections its institutions that profess to celebrate fine art by appealing to the affluent.

Design by: OlgaBerlet
Price:  $20.00 @ Teepublic
Colors: Black, White, Army Green, Red, Navy

Vintage Glitchy Computer

Vintage Glitchy Computer

Stylistically this image is very reminiscent of that of the OVA ‘Dead Leaves” in its use of jarringly bright colors and thick black outlines. FLCL comes to mind as well, as anytime an old fashioned TV and an anime style are paired together it’s difficult to think of anything other than the character of Canti .

Glitch as a style has a lot of potential, whereas vaporwave and outrun are less adaptable, and might reasonably be described as superficial genres moored in a handful of their stylistic conventions. Those two genres will ultimately live and die by their conventions in the same way that steampunk did. Glitch as a style rather than a genre is much more transmutable, though, as of yet there isn’t any great champion or movement behind the form.

The interesting thing about the image, which the wearer could realistically expect no one to notice, or think about is the top down narrative of tv to computer, the fragile sticker to that of Parental advisory. There is plenty of room for interpretation. Ultimately the question is in the statement: “the end”?

Design by: Trentain
Price:  $23.21 @ Redbubble
Colors: Blues and Neutrals

Bones and Botany

Bones and Botany

Bones and Botany works in that it is pleasing at the macro level and curious upon closer inspection. The saturated colors and bold outline means you can see what the design fundamentally is from across the room, and upon closer inspection you get to notice the charming little details that E Moss has left: the hummingbird, the bat in the ribcage, the mouse on the elbow.

It’s surprisingly difficult to pull off a design that will work with any color tee, admittedly some color combinations are clear standouts, but the predominance of white within the skeleton, the breadth of color within flora and fauna, and the overall saturation come together to pull it off.

Certain elements such as the flower in the pelvis or the moth on the skull shouldn’t work, but the multitude of detailed anchored by the central form somehow allow them to exist without drawing attention; when you finally see them it’s less a compositional choice to be evaluated than an intriguing surprise of “how was that not the first thing I noticed”, sort of an easter egg effect squeezed into a compact composition.

The design is noteworthy in that it doesn’t fall into the common vanitas category of skull/ skeleton images; the plants and animals seem more like something drawn by a naturalist than a dour painter of dead things in a dark room, which is. refreshing

Designed By: E Moss
Best colors: Redbubble offers 16 colors, any will work for this design.
Cost: $19.90 @ Redbubble