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

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

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

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

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

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

Bird X-Ray

Bird X-Ray

So apparently this is how Big Bird is operated; presumably the other arm is pinned to the body of the suit or a secondary puppeteer is used while the puppet is stationary. Seems like a missed opportunity for a napoleonic hand in the waistcoat, which surprisingly is not the name of a sex act yet. There’s something that’s very- sports apparel about this image. It’s probably the limited pallet and the super-flat design. In that way this image feels as though it subverting both Sesame Street and professional athletics at once. Anything cartoon related, even when subverted is hard to pull off without coming off as a bit immature. Granted prolonged adolescence is one of the biggest hallmarks thanks to the dumpster fire of an economy that young people today are inheriting, but still… The Sports look, for better or worse, seems to add a bit of maturity to this design by way of the drinking and profanity that seems to go hand in hand with athletic spectatorship. While this design works as a shirt not having it as a patch or sticker feels like a missed opportunity; with the sports idea in mind there is also an opportunity of using a lot more colorways if one weren’t absolutely attached to the notion that Big Bird has to be yellow to be recognizable.

Design by: Captain Ribman
Price:  $22.00 @ Teefury
Colors: Green, Black, Navy