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

Octoride

Octoride

Normally if you see enough references or touchstones of a genre/ an era you can predict exactly who a work like this will appeal to. This work is all over the place in its use of symbolism, but in a coherent way that seems to suggest a multi-generational style. The way children take on some of the touchstones of their parents youth: the records they hear at home as kids and continue liking as adults, some fashion their parents refused to give up and they later find themselves liking; this image sort of has that vibe to it. There’s something 50’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 00’s about the imagery all within a sand and ocean, maybe, tropical, sort of context.

The oldest thing within the piece is the shriner’s fez. The octopus and a burger would have been equally at home within the 50’s context and in later generations. The line work feels very 60’s/ 70’s with its various widths render making the image look a bit squiggly. While the colors could be either 70’s or 90’s the female figure, and the boom box are pure 80’s. The vehicle itself give the overall piece somewhat of a Tank Girl Vibe (90’s). The most current and incongruent aspect of the entire work is actually the panda which is definitely more 2010’s. This design ultimately seems to function in the same way that the decor of most of our homes, at least while young and single will: eclectic, chaotic, but somehow unified. The design feels like an intriguing encapsulation of both personal taste and experience.


Design by: Jesse Lonergan
Price:  $20.00 @ TeePublic
Colors: White, Maroon, Tan, Green, Blue,

Lotus

Lotus

The fusion of religious imagery is tricky because one always runs the risk of incurring the crystal/ hemp/ patchouli oil stigma of new age naiveté with the introduction of one to many symbols. This design seems to pull it off while coming dangerously close to falling apart aesthetically and thematically.

A lot of bands will play with religious imagery, few have the depth to pull it off sonically. One good example that was the band Godspeed You Black Emperor who’s post-rock and ambient sound produced a certain tone that this work seems to be trying to hit i.e dark and expansive. Their long time artist collaborator Okkervil River did a cover for their album “Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven” that somehow feels very similar to this work. This image isn’t necessarily trying to say anything, it’s more of a mood piece. The black is heavy and contains grit, whereas the white outer circle is more incorporeal if not kinetic. There’s the natural form of the flower agains the geometry of the dome, or its beauty against the threat posed by the snake. It seems like a small miracle that the whole thing doesn’t come across as a sperm when one looks at the silhouette, but somehow it pulls it off.

The image is balanced and off balance; it’s like you looked at a picture of an explosion, you could be forgiven for thinking it had an exact shape. The religious imagery here is also ambiguous, or possibly illusory. The Lotus could be Buddhism, Hinduism, or neither. The crescent could be Pagan/ Wiccan, Islamic, or mundane; the fact that it is waxing (curve to the left) instead of waning (to the right) points to it being secular. It seems as though every religion has something with snakes, but maybe not. This image narrowly misses any number of things, and emerging from a contextual minefield of religious and cultural associations its all the more impressive for having thread the needle.

Design by: Hector Mansilla
Price:  $19.90 @ Redbubble
Colors: Blue, Light Blue, Red, Green, Maroon, Yellow, Purple, Orange

Surreal Death Moth

Surreal Death Moth

Plenty of images of the death’s-head hawk moth as it stands; the reason to highlight this one in particular is the inclusion of the body-horror elements i.e. melty flesh + eyeballs. It’s very Hellsing, but the geometry gives it a more modern character. The skulls on the tips of the wings area a a nice touch; they look more like something you’d see on the prow of a ship than anything you’d expect to find on an insect. This image is over the top in the best possible way; The skull with the saliva between its teeth, the ol’ eye of Sauron, the thorax looks more like the underside of some goth kid’s claw ring than a section of an insect, and then there’s the demonic horns up top. This image is ‘everything and the kitchen sink’ in terms of demonic imagery. Without the geometry to level it out this image might not work. The choice to shade the triangle adds depth, as if the moth were flying over a chasm instead of pinned to the wearers chest… it’s clever. The image does a good job of balancing detail and negative space. The image works at a distance and close up. It’s a solid piece that says “demonic” without being off putting, which isn’t always the easiest thing to pull off.

Design by: vonKowen
Price:  $22.00 @ Threadless
Colors: Offered/ works in 24 different colors

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

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

Funki_Fractal

Funki_Fractal

There’s something interesting about a design, a style, an approach that feels like it shouldn’t work, but ultimately does. Sometimes the surprise of something working that shouldn’t can even elevate the result within our esteem past that of what could be achieved by an established artist.

This design shouldn’t work, it does. Webgrrl’s storefront is scattershot; not in terms of style, but quality. She has managed to produce a number of solid works, such as this design, but there’s a lot of work that feels… sophomoric. When you see a design called “funkifractal” you think: ‘…amateur redbubble artist and someone who doesn’t care’. This image isn’t even a fractal. Most probably she thought that that would be a more searched term than ‘Rorschach’. The Lack of pride in her work, professionalism, or self-awareness should indicate that this is an artist without potential; but that is absolutely not the case.

The image works, and it works in most colors, which isn’t easy. Creating this symmetry with the two red orbs and a red one below while managing to avoid Pareidolia isn’t easy. The black splotches are graphic and bold, while the green filagree feels inchoate- amateurish and somehow early internet, the green and the red taken together could easily be perceived as gauche. Somehow the design works and again, it shouldn’t, but that only makes it all the more impressive.

Designed By: Webgrrl
Best colors: yellow, blue, dark red/ maroon, white, and grey
Cost: $23.88 @ Redbubble