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,

Durrer Rabbit

Durrer Rabbit

As someone who enjoys and studies art history it’s always nice to see someone wearing a fine art shirt that isn’t Hokusai’s “The Great Wave off Kanagawa, Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, De Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”, or Margritte’s “The Son of Man”. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of these works, but among the initiated: basic is basic. The idea of “basic” is an interesting one; you can be edgy in the mainstream or too mainstream within the margins.

This image, which we’ll call an image because it’s not the companies’ original work and therefore shouldn’t be called a design, is not mainstream; but within the annals of classical art is in no way obscure. Seeing the image raises questions about balancing one’s representation of niche and mainstream interests, while presenting one’s identity to society at large. There seems to be a spectrum: the mainstream, the obscure but inoffensive, and the obscure and offensive. The middle is known and permitted; the left is unknown, but accepted, and the right would be unknown and unacceptable. On a one to ten this image might be a three or four. The wearer would get credit among the art aficionados, without alienating those not in “the know”. If you wanted to move more towards the one space, the left side of the scale Hendrick Goltzius might be your man. To move towards the right, maybe John Heartfield, or Takato Yamamoto.

In any case it’s nice to see Durrer represented. Past that it’s nice to see this image that feels like more of an acknowledgement of the late master’s skill, rather than some of his more ‘death themed’ block prints which are simply appreciated today because of the trendiness of their imagery. Durrer, and print artists in general, really haven’t gotten there due within mainstream culture, and perhaps the art world at large. Maybe, wear the shirt, support the cause; or wear it because it is and always was a beautiful design.


Design by: NA
Price:  $12.00 @ 6DollarShirts
Colors: White

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

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

Tri-Ford

Tri-Ford

This image is exceedingly meta for those in the know. The image isn’t really a celebration of Harrison Ford or anyone of the three franchises his various images reference. It’s pure pop. The design is three reference on top of a reference on top of another reference. Besides the three IP’s there’s Andy Warhol and the silk screen he made from a movie still of Elvis pointing his gun (“Triple Elvis“). This movie still itself is from a film called “Flaming Star“.

The inclusion of some of the smudges surrounding the figure is and interesting choice. The smudges aren’t exactly faithful to the original screen print. The fact that they’re identical instead of unique suggests that while the artist’s wanted to highlight the pedigree of the work he wasn’t paying attention to the nature of the processes that made up that work. These smudges would have been accidental and as such non-uniform within the silk screening process. The restraint in color pallet and the color blocking are generally well done, but the edges of the figures make the figures feel a bit flat. The flatness of the images suggesting block print rather than that of screen. One of the more clever aspects of the work is the fact that the guns are smudged in order to make the designs more uniform. Most of this is just nitpicking in any case. The image is strong and non-descript. There are multiple layers of reference besides the gun equals virility component that Warhol was channeling in the initial work.

Design by: DSTRBO
Price:  $20.00 @ TeePublic
Colors: White, Orange, Tan

Let’s Sacrifice Toby

Let’s Sacrifice Toby

Steven Rhodes designs are sort of everywhere. The designs are on all the major print on demand sites and can, at this point, even be found in places like Hot Topic and Spencers. A further testament to his popularity is the fact that as a t-shirt designer there are actually a number of interviews of him available online. Which begs the question what is it about his style or strategy that has made him so popular?

There have been a number of developments within pop culture over the last ten years that might explain the popularity of Rhodes’ Designs. First “Geek” culture became more mainstream, why this happened is anyones guess: Marvel, Star Wars, The Big Bang. As millennials grew older and struggled to hit any of the traditional milestones of aging e.g. stable careers, homeownership, kids; a prolonged adolescence and sense of bitterness and futility developed which Rhode’s designs seem to perfectly embody. The designs are bathos, irony, detachment, and cynicism; all the hallmarks of what millennials became and maybe what Gen Z will have to begin with.

The designs themselves are very well doneThere somewhat reminiscent of the work of Frank Kozik or other artists that pulled more from the 50’s and 60’s, but tiny details such as the clothing or the shading of the hair place the designs firmly in the late 70’s early 80’s animation/ illustration style. It’s a sort of less is more/ we’re on a budget look from a time when standards were so much lower and results were sometimes the better for those expectations.


Design by: Steven Rhodes
Price:  $20.00 @ TeePublic
Colors: White, Grey, Pink, Light Blue

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

Bettie

Bettie

As has been said before on this site it’s usually very- difficult to pull off a design of a naked or scantily clad woman on a t-shirt. Tattoos are fine for some reason, women who wear these design are accepted, but for men in generally wearing these designs generally gives off a weird incel-escque err. It’s hard to say with confidence whether or not for men there is, or could be an exception. If any depiction of a woman could potentially serve though then it would have to be one of Bettie Page.

Page is not merely an iconic pinup model or sexual icon of the 20th century. Her legacy as a female model of the 1950’s is at this point that of sexual empowerment. For women and for men. As a woman Page was very clear as to what she would and would not do and she was known to be uncompromising in a time where society would have had no sympathy for her plight. By modeling S&M clothing she helped expose mainstream America to kink. As a model she could be both fierce and vulnerable, an idea that society today still sometimes struggles to convey.

The design itself is very well done. The black and white source material has been adeptly colorized. There’s something a bit Frank Franzetta about the coloration. The background texture reminds me a bit of Final Fantasy X. The facial expression is what ultimately makes the piece. In any case- for her work, for her legacy, if not for the strength of this design itself this might be a shirt worth picking up.

Design by: Chris Wahl
Price:  $22.00 @ TeeFury
Colors: White, Grey

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,

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

I Can Only Hurt Everyone

I Can Only Hurt Everyone

This design is sort of a delightful tangle of subject and form. It is fine art, pop culture, fine art commenting on pop culture in a retro, futuristic, and contemporary way. It takes into account 20th century printing, late century diy poster design, and the contemporary fascination with all things cyberpunk and glitch.

With any background in modern art the average person would see this and think Lichtenstein. Besides the glitch though, there are a number of ways in which this design subverts and modernizes its source material. The iridescent effect produced by the blending of colors is not something Lichtenstein would have done, but is nevertheless suggestive of the print media he sought to imitate. The effect being that of bleeding ink, a spill, hazards of print. The effect is futuristic, but also harkens back to the time when humans were more involved in print media, and thereby were more prone to infuse human error into the final process. The other way in which this design surpasses Lichtenstein is by overlay the women’s head on top of, and past the bounding box of the image. This is a convention that only became common within comics decades after Lichtenstein made the main body of his work.

The use of color is reminiscent of the anaglyph (3d) glasses that came out in the 80’s. Within the composition though, their use feels a bit more contemporary; rather than trying to suggest a 3d effect they seem to point to the corruption of a digital file. Glitch is a style that has grown in popularity over the past few years and is somewhat tied to the vaporwave aesthetic. Retro and contemporary the image uses warping and glitch to suggest corruption. The balance of the two effects mean that the image feels both organic and digital, fluid and static. Is the person melting or blipping out of existence; the image refuses to say whether the threat the subject seems to be facing is in or outside themselves and the use of old media draws attention to the timeliness of this concern.

Design by: Michele Rota
Price:  $21.55 @ Redbubble
Colors: White

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

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

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

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

Bunny of Leaves

Bunny of Leaves

In the same way the embroidery tattoo trend of a couple of years back caught peoples attention this image’s idiosyncratic use, or illusion of material on an unsuited canvas is captivating. There’s always the question of how and why certain animals are anthropomorphized in the way that they are; A fox, perhaps because of the similarity in hues to that of autumn leaves would seem to be the obvious choice for this composition. Is the grey mold, should we take the shapes to be comprised of a man made material merely mirroring nature. The dead eyes and whiskers might suggest that. The eye’s realistically aren’t merely dead, they aren’t blended and don’t interact with the form. The eyes almost feel like Pareidolia made evident. It’s as if the artist saw it and is here sharing the experience. Nothing this perfect it likely to be found and that’s without the unnatural coloring that takes sometime to actually appreciate. The image is an assemblage of leaves, but there aren’t bits and scraps lying around a digital space. The intrusion of the unnatural elements (the eyes and whiskers) might then suggest that we neither see or appreciate icons, archetypes, symbols, within nature. It is only through the reshuffling and manipulation, through the re-contextualization of our devices that we can see, and fail to recognize meaning in our environment.

Design by: NemiMakeit
Price:  $22.00 @ DesignbyHumans
Colors: White, Navy, Blue, Black, Grey

Bicycle Wheel

Bicycle Wheel

Supposedly this is an image depicting the very first of Duchamp’s “readymades” (circa. 1913), which seems like a bit of a misnomer. In the context of fine art ‘”readymade” seems as though it were once interchangeable with the term “found object”. As Duchamp assembled this object from two disparate elements it is hard to see how it might be considered “found” or “ready made”; Both terms seem to imply a Homunculus, or ‘fully formed’ state of being prior to the re-contextualization of an object from the Mundane to that of fine art. Looking at the more famous example one wonders if ‘R Mutt’ is really “found” if the signature wasn’t also there to begin with. The signature feels like an apology upon a piece that is suppose to be and have been revolutionary.

Nevertheless this work is important to the history of art. It speaks to Dada and even suggests some of the principals of bauhaus in the simple geometry the photograph itself captures. As a design, independent of context, it works as something refined in its simplicity; within context though, if one sees it and knows anything of Modern Art, one knows that the wearer has cherrypicked one of the more important and under appreciated works within the canon. It’s a good, slightly snobby, work. It channels the spirit of Dada spirit and Gonzo sensibilities quite well.

Design by: Fruitjuice
Price:  $25.00 @ DesignbyHumans
Colors: White

Speed is Relative

Speed is Relative

Fuck yeah! Can this please exist in reality and it does really needs to. If a bear, a lion, and a tiger, can be besties why not a tortoise and a sloth? It’s hard to imagine a symbiotic relationship between these two species, because it seems like the sloth would just get a free ride, but the quiet, serene contemplation that the image seems to represent needs to exist. The image does well in that the color scheme is consistent and the image itself possesses enough novelty to make it worth one’s attention. The wearer might identify with the “turtle and the hare allegory”, (yes, this is a tortoise, but still) or it might be the meditative, chilled out posture of the sloth. In a world of social media, and ever fragmenting attention there’s something nice, maybe noble, about creatures that enjoy a slower pace of life. Has the Dalai Lhama condemned social media, or is he a willing participant? Nevermind, and fuck that. This shirt is worth highlighting because the idea of slowing down and deliberate action is something that is steadily being eroded away in modern times. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe not, but the older way of life certainly still has value and might inform our decisions and our views moving forward; that is what this design seems to represent.

Design by: MUsarter3D
Price:  $25.00 @ Designbyhumans
Colors: Black, White, Grey, Light Blue

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