All Spaced Out

All Spaced Out

Ormiston has this great vintage collage aesthetic. The texture, the tonality makes the image feel as though it were cut from a National Geographic from the 70’s while the solid backdrop modernizes the image. It’s like macrame and houseplants in a chic converted industrial loft. Unlike most of his other images within his oeuvre this one doesn’t rely on a central figure to pull everything together, or not quite anyways.

The absence of a figure with a space scene superimposed creates a more dynamic point of focus… it allows the figure to be timeless in a way that no human figure can actually be. It feels somewhat Ziggy Stardust or “Moonmen“, somewhat reminiscent of Baldessari or Richard Hamilton. The shadows are a very nice touch, alongside the color shift in the leg section that seem to suggest stocking, and possibly nudity, one can tell that Ormiston is an artist that pays close attention to detail. Normally the rectangle itself would be an issue. The rocks serving as satellites around the central figure/ the void add a dynamism that allows the image to work as an apparel design. Honestly if there’s one complaint to be had with the artist over the image is the fact that he hasn’t explored a whole colorway line with this idea. Different models, different voids, different satellites to break up the rectangles of different colors. This image is simple, perhaps deceptively so, however it is no more complicated then it needs to be and works far better than it has any right to given its simplicity.

Design by: James Ormiston
Price:  $21.97 @ Redbubble
Colors: Grey, Black, 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

Black Hole

Black Hole

Designs like these are not particularly easy to write about. They are what they are. They don’t feel like ornament, nor like pattern or colorway. You can try for deeper meaning but for the most part you like this design either for the shape or color, or for the resulting mood. The design is sort of a subtle note- a tone poem in visual form. One thing that the image is clearly not however is a depiction of a black hole; If anything it looks like a feeder ring you’d see on an aquascaped aquarium.

So what to say about the image… The reddish pink works well; it’s enough to suggest blood, something primal, without slipping into goth kid territory. The stars are actually more colorful than they have any right to be and it adds a bit of glamour to an image that might otherwise succumb to melodrama. The texture is quite good, very subtle. You can see the areas of clouds that were sampled versus areas that were brushed in, but the transition is subtle enough that it feels more like an effect than a product of limitation.

A better, more accurate title might help with the piece. Then again the current title is probably more searchable than any alternative one might come up with. Perhaps something more Damien Hirst, more obtuse would be good. In any case if you’re in the market for a moody abstract teetering on the precipice of goth look no further.

Design by: Jorge Lopez
Price:  $20.73 @ Redbubble
Colors: Black

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

Sound City

Sound City

You Can’t argue that it’s an aesthetically pleasing image. Nor can one argue that it works well within the context of apparel that the design’s shape fits perfectly as a badge upon the shirt. There is something about the messaging of the image, where form meets intent, however that feels a bit questionable.

Many designs will take and try and modernize an old style. The entirety of the 60’s style was predicated on Nouveau with the colors turned to 11; the idea being to represent the confluence of nature (as a symbol of peace and serenity) and psychedelics (“heightened consciousness” and vitality). This design takes art deco and is trying to adapt it to rock and roll. It’s an ok idea. Stylistically this works, although Deco is more aristocratic and industrialists and rock and roll was more poor and downtrodden. The idea is theoretically achievable; not all mashups need to make sense in order to work.

The problem with the design past this is when figures out who did it first. Led Zepplin’s album “Mothership“, a 2008 “best of” album already featured this art style via Shepard Fairey. When an idea of mixing an old style (Deco), is applied to an old band (Zepplin) performing in a largely outmoded style (R&R), is then rehashed a decade later what you potentially have is something that reaffirms the vapidness of the very thing the latest artist may have sought to lionize.

Why highlight this design then? Well, as was said before: it’s aesthetically pleasing. Beyond that the color gradient and it’s simulation of a metallic glean is a nice touch. That there almost appears to be a woodgrain upon the speaker cabinets paired with the clean line work provides a nice contrast. Above all else it’s a nice design and few people care what anything suggests or means. So if you like the design, go for it.

Design by: Gamma-Ray
Price:  $22.00 @ TeeFury
Colors: Black

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,

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

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

Elven Archer

Elven Archer

The interesting thing about images like “Elven Archer” is that they allow the viewer to Plumb the depth of their pop culture knowledge for influences. Admittedly the other piece of what makes wearing a design like this enjoyable is the predominant connotation of mushroom imagery within pop culture and the deniability one generally has due to the other roles they play in nature, medicine, food, and as a naturalistic and, conversely alien motif within various forms of fiction.

It would be surprising if the human figure wasn’t meant to be Link from “Zelda“. The fact that there are jellyfish, ‘Diri’ as they’re called in-game, pretty much leaves no doubt. The eyes paired with the mushrooms, however seem very “Midnight Gospel”. The swirls on the fox’s shoulder and hip seem a bit out of place; the east asian/ Okami style isn’t represented anywhere else within the image. Honestly, it’s the mushrooms that are the hardest to pin down. What immediately comes to mind is the forest from the Studio Ghibli classic “Nausicaa in the Valley of the Wind“, however there are probably a million other instances of mushrooms in this style.

It’s rare and refreshing to see a design on t-shirt websites that look as though they were actually “hand drawn”. Part of the charm of this image is in that it looks like something one would sketch in a notebook during a particularly long class lecture. The question is whether the mental flight of fancy or the future wearers proclivities skew towards psilocybin, video games, or both.

Design by: Freeminds
Price:  $22.00 @ Teefury
Colors: Black, Blue, Light Blue

Now more than Ever

Now more than Ever

There’s a lot going on in this piece, and it’s a testament to the skill and creative intuition of the artist that everything seems to come together at both the macro and micro levels within this work. The use of digital and realistic elements combine to give this image a graphic style and sense of abstract realism. The design is nebulous in a finding shapes in the clouds sense, but it is also impactful, bold and crisp in a way that gives the image power.

This image is balanced in a way that is not immediately perceptible upon a first glance. Upon an initial viewing much of the image seems soft and undefined. The clarity image starts with the outline and the sharp edges that feel reminiscent of Chinese or Japanese Calligraphy. If one looks into the image they will eventually notice that the clouds and mountain elements are actually photographs, and that this is in fact a bit of a collage piece. What keeps this image from feeling jagged though is the use of gradients to blend and soften the image while creating a vibrant sort of dreamscape that is ultimately punched through by the void that appears almost like a halo of the mountain there placed like a figure within the piece. There is something about the shape, and the wispiness it contains. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Goya’s “Saturn Devouring his Son” or Blake’s “The Ancient Days“. On that scale there is an abstract figure sitting hunched over and in mourning. Close up there is a figure looking into an eclipse, a void, and realizing the scale at which they live their life within the context of the universe.

The fun cool colors are deceptive. You’re not on a beach at sunset. The whole image in fact is deceptive. It’s not purely digital, it’s not abstract or representational. What you choose to see and feel from this image, the amount of choice you have and the overall beauty of the composition is what makes this design great.

Design by: Adam Priester
Price:  $24.04 @ Redbubble
Colors: Black, White, Grey, Creme, Light Blue

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

Cat and Raven

Cat and Raven

It’s just a figure- two figures why highlight such a design? How many pieces of apparel do Hello Kitty, Pikachu, or Mario appear on? They all stand for different things and all are symbols of a much larger framework, but they all can stand alone, if perhaps in a diminished stature. If one sees an image and decides that it could potentially serve as the vanguard for an expansive IPO why not take note?

The interesting thing about this image is the similarity one can see between the head of the cat and those of ‘Funko Pops’. Those figurines though are static and lifeless; just because the primary element of a figure is blocky doesn’t mean that the figure in totality need be. The cat doesn’t fit in that universe, but the influence is clear. A minimal and dreamy place can be gleaned through the suggestion of the shape and its rounder corners and lines. There’s something dreamy and minimal about it. How the bullet shaded “raven”, that looks more like one of those- symbiotic alligator birds, is hard to say.

Sometimes an art style is enough to suggest a narrative. When combined with apparel the image, and the hinted at narrative is enough to suggest a certain disposition on the part of the wearer. This image feels: curious in a conflicted way; both naive and sophisticated, minimal and calm in a potentially messy and violent way. It’s ‘Spirited Away’ but in the future as represented in our more modern times.

Design by: Freeminds
Price:  $22.00 @ Teefury
Colors: Grey, Black, Blue, Navy

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

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

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

Colorful Architect

Colorful Architect

There’s something to be said for simplicity. While the Bauhaus Movement generally gets its due in the world of furniture, architecture, and luxury items such as watches and apple products; within the wold of graphic tees it is severely underrepresented. Of all the artistic movements within wester canon Art Nouveau in general, and Alphonse Mucha in particular, receives the lions share of imitators.

The hallmarks of Bauhaus are a streamlined simplicity with a focus on utility, craftsmanship, and ease of mass production. The lego bricks within the design, and as a product in general, are in keeping with its credo. The CYM + black pallet speaks of modernity in a way that Mondrian couldn’t have foreseen and will now never capture with his pallet of black, white, red, yellow, and blue. Much like the image suggests CYM is the foundation of print and packaging. It’s odd, upon reflection that no one has thought to update Mondrian’s Neo-Plastacisist works. Lastly there is what the brick will be if they do in fact fall into place, which is a shape that calls to mind a piece of architecture that those of the bauhaus might approve of, or at least begin with in planning a structure. The design is a tribute. What makes it’s interesting is how subtle it is for such a bold design.

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

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

Modern Lotus

Modern Lotus

Perhaps pcb boards are a little outmoded at this point; yes we still use and rely upon them, but in the era of computer chips and nano technology that allow electronics to be infinitesimally compact they feel less and less relevant. ‘Modern Lotus’ points to that connection between pcb and art deco. A connection that was never truly made within the artistic community. They both relied upon geometry, simplicity, and both interacted with negative space in similar ways.

This design seems to join a bygone aesthetic of the the 1920’s with a modern, technical, and perhaps spiritual inclination of minimalism of ‘less is more’ within contemporary society. The design isn’t minimalist in itself, rather the design, however complex and through gilded and technological reference, points to complexity beneath the surface. It is both western decadence in form and (through the eastern symbolism surrounding the lotus) simplicity in aspiration.

One can read into what they want as far as Globalization, or eastern manufacturing for western consumption. The image is strong enough to stand independent of all that. It would be surprising in fact if the artist thought that far, as more often than not it is the critic not the artist that thinks in terms of meaning when approaching a work of art; still, there’s plenty to think and feel about this design if one can find the thread.

Design by: ecologyink
Price:  $22.38 @ Designbyhumans
Colors: Black, White, Army Green, Red, Navy

Pop Foliage on Yellow

Pop Foliage on Yellow

Typically within the world of apparel it’s only brand centric designs and patterns that are allowed to be decorative. One could argue that a random character or image unaffiliated with a brand, and absent a logo would not qualify as branding, but even within the absence of name or logo, a random image if distinctive enough would still serve to tie and align the brand and wearer to a certain- disposition. A skull, gun, unicorn, an owl, they each have their own connotations.

While this design in its title contains the word ‘pop’ the image isn’t really. Pop is defined by digestibility, mass production, familiarity, short hand, and association. This image isn’t that. Rather the image uses some of the stylistic conventions of advertisement while remaining well outside the realm of visual shorthand that advertisement traditionally has relied upon.

Here ‘Pop Foliage on Yellow’ doesn’t carry the iconographic baggage that other images might. The image, silhouette, and color scheme have to be taken at face value. Sometimes that’s more than just enough, it can actually feel refreshing.

Design by: Dominiqueveri
Price:  $21.55 @ Redbubble
Colors: Grey, White, Black, Blue

Rainbow

Rainbow

Shirt design featuring the bust of a dark skinned woman, in anime style, and with multicolored/ fauvist style hair

The hair gives the design its energy. Theres something Fauvist about its jarring shifts in color, maybe late 80’s- early 90’s in its wild pattern. The colored outline that starts in the hair and works it way over the shoulders gives the image a fun youthful expression. Perhaps in the way that cyberpunk has grown to dominate our visual representation of the future, by channeling elements from the same decade the artist has tapped into futurism without having to be as explicit.

The bottom half of the design is more dreamy, more retro, and comforting. The head and the body, what is revealed and hidden are complimentary, but one is not as bold as the other. Thematically it ads interest. Compositionally it ads contrast, but not so much as to take the eye from the focal point.

Then There’s the face and more strikingly the eyes. The Blending in the skin is dramatic rather than naturalistic. The artist definitely tips her hand as far as the work being digital, which is not a bad thing. Expressiveness of stroke wont normally blend this well/ softly in a physical medium. The distinctly digital aspect of the face and eyes is what makes this image contemporary. It’s too bold to be a museum or an academic piece, but it feels too complicated and nuanced to be commercial. Lastly there are the eyes with their highlight approaching lens flairs. Very well done in terms of depth and expression. The Framing of the eyes with the bow and hair is masterful.

Whether or not the placement and scale of this image is hard to say. Teepublic is one of the few sites that doesn’t use a model to preview their designs. It’ might be a little big and too much on the stomach, rather than centered on the ribs. Regardless, GDBee has made a great design, and her entire oeuvre is worth a glance or follow.

Design by: GDBee
Price:  $20.00 @ Teepublic
Colors: White, Tan, Black, Navy, Grey, Hot Pink, Teal

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