Best Pirates

Best Pirates

Pirates or the pirate theme isn’t as trendy now as it used to be. Maybe that’s just the passing of the Caribbean franchise, who knows, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the archetype isn’t still fertile ground as is proven by the artistic merits contained within this design; granted, one can’t see this design and fail to note the influence of “We Bare Bears” on the overall composition, a detail which does imbue the design with a certain level of modernity. The whimsy inherent in the choice of characters, the subtle details that add personality to each figure all culminate in a sense of not just motion, but of an enticing still frame of a narrative that the viewer is left to contemplate.

The art style is unique, sort of “negative paintings one might associate with ancient greek pottery”. This would be a relatively unique style for the animated narrative the design seems to suggest. The image seems to perfectly straddle the line between childish roundishness a la pixar, and more angular forms one might associate with more adult animation. In looking over the portfolio of Obinsun, one can clearly see an artist well suited for children’s book illustrations; most of their work seems to suggest a narrative and act as furtive ground for one’s imagination. The style is somewhat reminiscent of “Emily the Strange” or “Neurotically Yours“. If you’re a fan of non-sense, randomness, or flights of fancy this may just be the shirt for you.

Design by: Obinsun
Price:  $21.55 @ Redbubble
Colors: Light Blue, Red, Yellow, Purple, Orange

Toshio Saeki

Toshio Saeki

There’s a certain allure to the morbid. It’s not new or modern, it’s as old as basic artistic aptitude. What is interesting and what might be distinct within the cannon is violence paired with indifference; it’s s&m before the term, the words, and the underlying power dynamics they represented paired with mortality (supposedly “the great equalizer”). If you’ll indulge this writer, there’s something gloriously lo-fi about this image. The fact that this term isn’t more commonly used in the context of visual art seems to be a huge oversight. When you hear Daniel Johnston’s Music and see art the connection is obvious. His art was not merely “outsider” art and neither is this design.

Within psychology there’s something called the ‘TAT‘ (Thematic Appreciation TEST) where a subject is shown a number of images and asked to supply the context. Based on the stories the subject concocts the administrator is suppose to glean things about the persons psychological state. This image seems to be- not straight forward, but not to complex; that is until one sees that the nail going through the man’s skull first past through the woman’s hand. So many questions. Who the hell held the nail for her? The ambiguity is what makes it interesting.

While the style doesn’t need to be minimal in the way that is in order to function, the simple style lends it a bored ‘fantasy doodle’ sort of quality that ads depth to the image. The man, or maybe the boy appears to be wearing a Japanese school uniform whereas the woman seems look and be dressed as a young adult woman. The style of the image seems to break the fourth wall and tell us of a bored school boy drawing this image as envisaged by the real life creator of this design. One can therefore speculate on the scene, and the artist who’s notebook and sun-conscious we’ve been given a peek into. The design is great for the deceptiveness of its simplicity, besides the overall merit of its composition.

Design by: Fruitjuice
Price:  $25.00 @ Designbyhumans
Colors: White, Light Yellow, Light Blue

Punish The Wicked

Punish The Wicked

This design on a grey shirt is essentially a neoclassical tattoo, of a morbid subject, rendered on a canvas the color of a corpse. It wouldn’t work as well as a tattoo on a living person as it does in its current state; living pigment would detract from the starkness of death/ of the skull. The artist has taken a style, a tradition, a subject and transposed it on a medium to enhances the image; it’s all very clever.

As for the image itself it’s fairly versatile for skull imagery. The design could work for goth, Metal, punk, Skater, Biker. While all these subcultures share a certain fascination with skull imagery as symbol for death or danger, they all have their own- unique tinge to how they use the image. An oversimplification might be to say that: Goth is sad and leading, metal is power and anger, punk is aggression and futility, skater is more danger and reckless, where biker might be power and nihilism. This design does a good job, as far as these multiple subcultures are concerned, of threading the needle. Perhaps in part, because both skulls and tattoos run through all movements.

The image is cold and volatile. It’s like a California beach with sailor imager and its pallet the color if an ice-e, and yet the long hair and skull transport you somewhere remote and unforgiving. Where this image belongs in space is pleasantly ambiguous, regardless or as a result, its an incredibly well placed, executed, and… conceived design with a lot of versatility.

Design by: JonCottamArt
Price:  $20.00 @ Threadless
Colors: Lemon, Grey, White

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

Nomad

Nomad

scifi dystopian shirt purple

Nomad‘ as a design is masterful in its ability to tease a narrative and instantly establish tone.

The desolation most would associate with a camel ride through the desert is offset by the whimsy of the dirigible camera, the playfulness and incongruity of an air freshener dangling from the rider’s parasol. Her expression is that of determination amidst a dystopian future. The saturated early evening palette, and the novelty of her companions taken with the context of the image seemingly suggests a rich and beautiful life of struggle.

The silhouette is interesting and works as a standalone image, but also adapts well to apparel. The Color scheme is limited, well coordinated, and provides an abundance of detail.

Designed By: ElinJ
Best colors: Purple and Yellow || Also: red, and neutrals.
Cost: $19.99 @ Redbubble