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.
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.
Employing satanic imagery while avoiding the pitfalls inherent in the teenage angst connotation it often represents is a difficult line to toe. The most effective way to navigate, to proceed, seems to be hyper-realism in most cases; it’s as if the skill of the execution and the artistic maturity implied therein serves as one of the few effective wards to mainstream criticism.
The artist here pulls it off well and in spades. The detail within the goat figure is enough to make even the most accomplished engraver of antiquity hang their their head, and tip their hat in acknowledgement to the evident skill contained within the execution of this design . The background pattern points to psychedelia, to the idea of existence and vitality behind discernible reality of existence- to mysticism. This work takes something niche and fringe and through masterful execution, gives it standing to exist within the context of the fixedly mundane world we as people seem to operate in.
It isn’t enough to want to counterbalance the norm. To successfully ‘David and Goliath’ one needs to bring one’s A-game. The artist here is using satanic and “pagan” imagery; but it’s modernized by the background and in a way that suggests that the backing ideology is more than just reactive: that the ideas expand out past the conversation of opposition. The figure behind the goat that points to a sphere is perhaps tribal (for lack of a better term), but it points to a time wherein humanity was open to things not readily discernible. The darkness is ominous. it exists, but might be benign. The question of the image isn’t as much as challenge as a question: “what if evil exist’s more as a blunt and pervasive inclination, rather than a sharp pernicious instrument employed by one’s fellow man”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Art Nouveau, or more accurately the style of Alphonse Mucha is somewhat of a staple among t-shirt graphics. The level of detail and sophistication required to pull it off these designs means that only those with a decent level of technical ability will try. The result is that among all the t-shirt design tropes and cliches Art Nouveau has the strongest consistency for quality images. The question then is: of all the designs available why single this one out?There are two main reasons to highlight this design over the other Mucha imitators.
The first reason is what this image gets right, namely: the subtle use of outlines to highlight the figure and the gothic church inspired framing. Mucha’s work was often informed by the limitations of the printing technology of his day. The bold outlines that became a hallmark of his style were to compensate for the lack of shading that could be achieved via reproduction/ commercial use. The cutaways, reminiscent of gothic windows served as a counterbalance to the organic vine or floral elements within the work. Both the cutaways and the outlines have been faithfully reproduced within the work as has Mucha’s propensity for draping women in swaths of fabric as a nod to Hellenistic sculpture/ antiquity.
The second reason to highlight this composition is the way in which it subverts Mucha’s style. While Mucha may have limited his pallet with the printers in mind, this design is even more spartan than that any design Mucha ever undertook thereby heightening the effect of a limited pallet. The cutaway the artist uses for the background is classic Mucha, however the way in which he tangle the grim reapers robes outside the boundaries of this cutaway is not something Mucha would ever have done. In portraying death the artist has chosen to suggest that it exists as something beyond what faith can hope to grasp or manage.
Most Art Nouveau designs merely borrow the motifs. This design is significant in that the composition subtly challenges religion in the context of art history.
This image seems pretty straight forward. You see the fangs, and the fangs, and the skull without a lower jaw and you think ‘metal’. It’s a reasonable assumption, but there are elements that push it- if not outside the genre, than to opposite corners, its subcategories and their individual stylistic elements. Within Here you can see Black Metal, Goth Metal, perhaps Rockabilly, certainly horror punk. Sometimes these differences in sound or art style are subtle other times they’re more pronounced.
The Skull is the most obvious ‘metal’ element within the image, but it’s the texturing that really makes this feel like a ‘metal’ shirt. The line work and shading on the women though is more- manga than anything. The form itself is pinup, hence the rockabilly/ horror punk suggestion. The fact that the crescent moon is stamped on the image that contoured to the form is interesting; as is the fact that the moon is waning rather that waxing. This might be because Westerners, at least, seem to like objects to point right instead of left within compositions. Whether this is true in Russia (where they instead write right to left) is uncertain.
The lip bight is one of the more enigmatic elements of the image. Is it for the skull or for someone something else that the women is looking are way for. The rectangle here works because it is horizontal instead of vertical, which allows the former to succeed where the ladder nearly always fails. Past that the shape actually adds interest to scene. It’s a bit of a fourth wall break, because it forces us to ask “how are we seeing this and through what”. Is it a tv, a mirror, a window, it’s hard to say. It’s hard to find a design that’s both dark and post-modern.
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
The synthesis here of Hollywood Glamour via a photo of Lauren Becall, and the deployment of Body Horror is inspired. Why isn’t this a film? Among the tinfoil hat communities of the internet there’s all this talk of Lizard people running around and pulling the strings; why not take that idea and place it in the romanticized and glamorous context of prewar Hollywood? Familiarizing the public with the censorship that the Hayes Code represented and the misguided steps that the temperance movement took could be explained and dramatized in a powerful way that could illustrate the dangers of conservatism and censorship within society.
The image itself is violent, somewhat seductive, and overall unsettling. The use of the pink lends this a dreamy danger, sort of a siren’s song component. The eyes though are nearly reptilian in their blueish green. The disdain and question written on the actresses face is one of asking: “do you still want what I represent”? The evil in the glamour, the colored highlights, this is a black and white image of the past that grows into ones nightmares. It’s horrifyingly beautiful and the story it suggests: a synthesis of the gilded age and the golden age of practical effects is a compelling idea.
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.
There’s a certain cultural tipping point with source material past which it is difficult to seem original or generate interest for a design. Pulp Fiction, Mickey Mouse, Marilyn Monroe are all so pervasive within American culture it’s hard to rep them in fashion without seeming- basic. Although in the case of Movies and characters there seems to be a cooling off period; today people are unabashedly wearing Nirvana shirts again, which would have been a serious faux pas perhaps 10 years ago.
Samotnjak has made a series of skeleton based movie images all of which are solid. The reason for singling out this one and not the skeletonized version of the ceramic scene in ‘Ghost’, the Walter White, or Harley Quinn is primarily the lettering, and the novelty of seeing a Mia that isn’t lying on the bed looking up from her book. Both the phrase “I said goddamn, goddamn” and the bold font (Impact?) are so distinctly Tarantino. The fact that you’d have to know the movie to know what Mia just did, and the fact that the expletives are obscured means that you a kid might get away with wearing this to school, which is hilarious. The black, red, and yellow scream danger in a way that is surprisingly hard to achieve when using skull imagery. Usually these types of image lend themselves more to a tone of foreboding rather than that of an urgent threat.
Even with the teeth, even before the ‘thematic’ conventions of hentai entered the public consciousness, long tubular forms are difficult to render without inadvertently suggesting something- suggestive. You add brown as a color to the mix and that’s another avenue of debauchery; upon reflection, the inclusion of a rainbow within the context of either could be construed as yet another layer. This design is amazing. It’s graphic horror, then perversion, and neither all at once.
The image is so well executed. The metallic texture, the ambient light and shadow are masterfully done. Having three heads on one side and two on the other should leave the image feeling lopsided but it doesn’t. The inclusion of a dodecahedron possessing an all seeing eye ads intrigue. Is the rainbow zero, the snakes five, the eye twelve, with the base forming an infinity symbol; who knows? The interplay of the rainbow, monsters, and eye is excellent in establishing conflicting tones within the work. The rainbow is fun and innocence, the snakes brutality and violence, and the eye solemnity. You look at the form and question whether it’s rising, falling, or stationary. The design does well in establishing tension and uncertainty. Is the rainbow really a halo? Between the possible halo, numerology, the ‘all seeing eye’, and the vaguely seraphim-esque imagery is this suppose to seem religious, or just like a mass of phallic shapes? The word ‘ecstasy’ would work in either case.
This design truly surpasses the typical soft and dark contrast of pastel goth and punk; in doing the design stands as an example of what the style might achieve were it to broaden its conventions. The circular rainbow is typical of the style, but excluding the dark saturated blue and the black within the figure that is something else entirely, the rest of the colors break with the style in a subtle but significant way.
Typically to remain graphic in nature Pastel goth/punk images will bolster the design with outlines. Not only is that not present here, but the washes of the cape and scythe have been enhanced so as to create an oil on water effect that adds a toxic undertone to this effigy of death. The figure itself stands out in terms of value in a way that stamps it upon the more decorative elements of the piece.
What ultimately makes this image interesting is the use of value to create layers and varying weights within the image. The use of texture to create a hierarchy of interest and emotion. The wings as elements point to the greeks and Hermes, Seraphim, and (in their coloration) parrots. Pastel as an aesthetic is here challenged and expanded by light saturated washes. Pastel seeks to lighten the macabre through color, here it is made ethereal and pernicious through the masterful execution of shape and transitions.
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.
Bones and Botany works in that it is pleasing at the macro level and curious upon closer inspection. The saturated colors and bold outline means you can see what the design fundamentally is from across the room, and upon closer inspection you get to notice the charming little details that E Moss has left: the hummingbird, the bat in the ribcage, the mouse on the elbow.
It’s surprisingly difficult to pull off a design that will work with any color tee, admittedly some color combinations are clear standouts, but the predominance of white within the skeleton, the breadth of color within flora and fauna, and the overall saturation come together to pull it off.
Certain elements such as the flower in the pelvis or the moth on the skull shouldn’t work, but the multitude of detailed anchored by the central form somehow allow them to exist without drawing attention; when you finally see them it’s less a compositional choice to be evaluated than an intriguing surprise of “how was that not the first thing I noticed”, sort of an easter egg effect squeezed into a compact composition.
The design is noteworthy in that it doesn’t fall into the common vanitas category of skull/ skeleton images; the plants and animals seem more like something drawn by a naturalist than a dour painter of dead things in a dark room, which is. refreshing
Designed By:E Moss Best colors: Redbubble offers 16 colors, any will work for this design. Cost: $19.90 @ Redbubble
It’s nice sometimes to forgo the polish of a finished work. Sometimes in fact a preliminary sketch can seem to surpass the finished product in effectively eliciting the intended response. Were ‘evil girl’ to be carefully developed, be it digitally or in oil, would it be as interesting a piece?
This sort of aesthetic seems to speak to, or be more in the tradition of less mainstream culture. The combination of fine and rough line work is just as much a hallmark of indie and punk as it is for figurative studies within art college, which is certainly no coincidence, as the bands making these types of music, due to their likely age and proximity to urban centers, are likely to have friends and associates linked to art programs and institutions.
The image does a good job of channeling the whole ‘diy’ aesthetic, and beautiful woman and demonic imagery are always in fashion. The image is well placed and balanced on the human form, its size making it a bit more of a statement piece. Whether it actually needs, or should include the Kanji writing is debatable; Certainly its inclusion is in line with present day fashion, but whether or not that’s a good thing, only time will tell. Still, it’s a beautiful image and Owlvission30 has a lot of great work, some equally or more polished than this one; which, depending on how you feel about the writing, you might be interested in.
Nothing wrong with a good block print. This imagery of fantasy, magic realism, science, and more adult themes as being steadily growing since- ‘Adventure Time’./? Maybe there was something within the world of animation that preceded it, but nothing comes to mind. Since then you have shows like: ‘Gravity Falls’, ‘Kino’, ‘Midnight Gospel’, and ‘The Hallow’. Never mind the explosion of the isekai genre within anime.
There’s something nice about the juxtaposition of death and a house cat; it sort of softens the image and prospect. Historically death has rarely been portrayed as being an adventure. Usually it’s more of a migration that ends in an encampment. Even pre-pandemic it seemed like there was a serious lack of whimsy within our culture. The closest we seemed to get was Coachella, Burning Man and Instagram which is just miles off base. At the same time one might want to embrace a little adventure in one’s life, if it isn’t coupled to the harsh economic reality that young people are currently facing it isn’t going to end well; that’s why you need death to ride the house cat alongside you. It’s fun and cute, but the steaks are real and doors are closing. It’s nice sometimes to feel that there are fantastic possibilities even if you see a darkness along the lining and that’s what this image is.