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

The Black Knight Rises

The Black Knight Rises

This is a pretty good mashup as there are plenty of obvious parallels between the two IP’s. It seems as though”Monty Python and the Holy Grail” is sort of in a weird known and unknown place within popular culture. Regardless of its current status it almost certainly will remain as timeless as 3 stooges or Abbot and Costello within the annuls of comedy, just with better visuals and one liners. In any case, having the black knight stand in for the dark Knight is a pretty obvious comparison; besides the similarities in names there’s each one’s absurd ability to continue fighting after the injuries they sustain over the course of their respective movies, or the misguidedness of their stated missions i.e. the bridge isn’t worth guarding and Batman would do more for society by just donating his money rather than playing vigilante. Once more the bunny and the bat symbols- terrifying.

It’s not a design that it doesn’t take itself particularly seriously and would probably suggests the same of any wearer. However in spite of the silliness of the subject, the low-hanging-fruit nature of the spoof, it is well executed. More and more low culture is becoming high culture, or the distinction is getting progressively more nebulous. For that reason and for Python’s growing age maybe this could scream sophistication if not now then in the future. Who’s to say?

Design by: Obvian
Price:  $22.00 @ TeeFury
Colors: Black

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

Possibilities in Order

Possibilities in Order

One of the things that is frustrating about most- all print on design sites is that they don’t have a description section wherein the artist can explain what the design is, what it’s about, or why they chose to portray their subject in the way that they did. Why Bring this up? This shirt’s design is paying tribute to a show called “Fringe” that ran from 2008 to 2013. It was fairly popular, but didn’t make a big dent on the cultural psyche the way shows like “Breaking Bad” or “The Wire” did. Looking at this shirt nearly a decade later the odds that anyone will know what the design is about is fairly small but as the wearer of the shirt you’d feel a little silly if you bought and wore it because you liked the image, only to find out it’s referencing a show you’ve never seen when someone walks up to you to talk about the show, reasonably assuming that you’ve seen it, because you’re wearing the shirt.

This design is a perfect example to bring up this industry gripe, because even outside the context of a fairly successful tv show it’s a great design. The fact that it also manages to reference a famous work of surrealist art by Renee Magritte doesn’t hurt either. The point being that it’s a strong image that looks awesome, but you wan’t to at least know what a design is referencing, if anything, before you wear it.

The design has a lot of great elements to it. Did you notice the six fingers? The way that hand is drawn is superb; it’s not too clean, nor does it feel too crude- like a sketch. The texture on the nimbus makes it feel like an old coin or a seal, and pulls it back from the figure in a subtle way. The woman within the smoke, the golden spiral on the sea horse, these are references to the show, but they serve as charming visual easter eggs even for the uninformed. Watch the show or don’t, this is still a design worth having.

Design by: ZeroBriant
Price:  $22.00 @ Teefury
Colors: Black

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

Hills are Alive

Hills are Alive

This work is obviously taken from the fairly well known GIF first created by the VFX artist Dan DeEntremont. It’s a great image and the main question is whether or not the lines are suppose to represent embroidery or Neon. Some places and elements within the image seem to point to one or the other. The periodic breaks in the lions would suggest neon, but some of the sharp corners would be impossible in that medium. If it were Neon then there would probably be some aural glow surrounding the lines. One thing to consider when rendering an image such as for apparel is that thinner lines break down faster than large patches (of ink) with repeated washings; as such it would be interesting to see how long this shirt would hold up. The confusion of implied medium isn’t the main issue with this image; The two parts that really hurt the piece are the oozy clip and the cheekbone. The clip just has too much curve on the left line which makes it look more like a receipt coming out of the bottom of the gun. The cheek bone extends just a bit too far and is in danger of making Julie Andrews look as though she may be in possession of a fine mustache. This image is interesting enough to warrant highlighting, but with a bit more attention to detail it could’ve been great.

Design by: Rocketman_art
Price:  $22.00 @ Teefury
Colors: Black, Navy, Charcoal

The Pipe

The Pipe


Generally speaking when it comes to apparel, pop culture mashups tend to be lazy garbage. Most of the time there is no rhyme or reason for the cross pollination; what does Abbey Rd, Demon Days, or Bohemian Rhapsody have to do with Sith Lords? Sometimes “artist” will go a little further and change the style of characters in adapting them to unsuitable/ unrelated content such as when an artist portray Rick and Morty in the style of Calvin and Hobbes while crossing the river in one of the ladder series most iconic images. These types of mash ups add and suggest nothing thematically or artistically; They’re just lazy. They must work though because sites like teefury essentially run on them.

This image is different. Mario is famous for reinventing, or reframing its characters. Officially Mario has had 7 jobs; unofficially the number is somewhere around 26. This is a very adaptable IPO. Mario has already done horror via “Luigi’s Mansion”. Could you then merge “The Ring” with Mario? Absolutely. It’s an interesting idea and might actually be a good solution if you wanted to make a second attempt at live action, because let’s face it, goombas aren’t going to work outside of a cartoon world. Ghost peach and murder though, that’d be interesting. The fact that it’s a gameboy sets you up for a child vs monster, “It” scenario. The image works because there’s actually an interesting idea and therefore a reason behind the merger.

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

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

Bird X-Ray

Bird X-Ray

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

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

MIA

MIA

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.

Design by: Samotnjak
Price:  $12.00 @ Threadless
Colors: Black

Someone Loves Me

Someone Loves Me


Kraaaaaaaaaaaang!!! Since Nolan’s Batman hit there’s been this drive towards realism within cinematic adaptations of comic books, which is all fine and good; the Adam West era of comic book depictions just wasn’t going to fly in these our modern times. There is something to be said, something of value contained within the exaggerated/ stylized, and surreal depiction of comic book characters that was there in the 90’s. Heath Ledger’s Joker, Tyler Durden, while perhaps representations of toxic masculinity are powerful examples of how outlandish characters could subjugate realism and thereby become iconic by personifying certain archetypes, but it wasn’t tell ‘Suicide Squad’ and Harley Quinn, train wrecks that these movies were, that you got to see outlandish style in both character and in form. The 90’s era of cartoons, the era that this design references was a time of caricature, but not out of laziness. The characters ‘Rock Steady’ and ‘Bebop’ were the creators trying to point people towards culture… and sell an imperial buttload of toys. There’s none of that in the Michael Bay adaptations, because Michael Bay is a a fundamentally a mouth breathing philistine. What you may ask does any of this have to do with this design?

This design references a time when superheroes, supervillains were too fantastical to exist in reality. There were the powers, but there was also the style. Somewhere between the aesthetic sensibilities of WWE and Devo, Krang and his automaton exist and really should be f#$%king things up; that level of style, energy, knowledge or nostalgia ought to be harnessed in modern animation. This design is somewhere between blueprint, cutout, and 90’s in substance and early 60’s in style and references a bygone sensibility in which more things were possible.

Design by: Yema Yema
Price:  $22.00 @ Teefury
Colors: Purple, Black, Grey, Navy

Mickey Skull

Mickey Skull

It’s easy to turn an icon and make a decent image. Often the familiarity of the subject is enough to coast in terms of style, detail, artistic merit. Mickey and Marilyn have been favorites for a while. There is after all the whole “low-brow” art movement, not pioneered, but perhaps best exemplified by Ron English. When viewing an original artwork that incorporates pop culture, or perhaps more accurately, subjects that might be deemed as ‘Modern Iconography’ a certain degree of skepticism should be deployed, because it’s a shortcut that can hide a lack of originality. The question then is whether or not this image feels lazy or underdeveloped. The honest answer is: a bit. Not enough to disqualify it, but there are bits and pieces among the good ideas within the piece that should give a viewer pause.

The main issues within this design are: the guide lines of the face and hands and the drips on the bottom of the figure. The horizontal guidelines on the face are not round enough to suggest a sphere. While these would work, and probably were used to draw the face, if you’re going to leave them in then the artist should choose to refine them in a way that makes them more visually impactful. The Lines on the hands don’t seem like they were used for anything; rather, they seem like they were added to make the guide lines on the face make sense. What would those lines on the hands actually be used for? Yes they both connect to the center of the second finger but that wouldn’t actually help. Lastly there’s the drips at the bottom of the image. It’s difficult to create that ghostly incorporeal appearance without blending, but at the same time one must alway be weary of ‘mind in the gutter’ interpretations of shapes and forms. It takes long enough to notice the flaccid silhouette that the design still works, but it is there.

The decision to elongate the skull and remove the lower mandible was smart. For whatever reason the elongation of form somehow is always ghoulish. The inclusion of the dollar sign may at first seem like low hanging fruit, but there’s something very “Hank Rearden’s cigarettes” that goes past capitalism and enters the desiccation planes of libertarian ideas for some reason, which makes it interesting. The signature button is a nice touch; sometimes you gotta respect cockiness. It does work as a stylistic element within the piece. What the hand gestures mean is hard to say; visually they seem to help in establishing a column going up off the body, and curves the ears going down into a spike; authority and violence by way of corporate hegemony within the artistic field.

Design by: JocBox
Price:  $12.00 @ Threadless
Colors: Grey

Urban Cartoon Collage

Urban Cartoon Collage

This design is a confluence of art forms that lend it its mass appeal. Influences of, or the design’s allusion to hip hop, graffiti, streetwear, and classic American cartoon are all evident. These various forms themselves are massively popular and deeply intertwined.

Two asides: (1) for those not in the know “bombing” is a term that means to create graffiti (2) one thing to notice when looking at a cartoon character is where the wedge in a cartoons pupil is taken; if it’s the side that was traditionally Disney, if it’s the top then that was Dr Seuss.

Within the design there are stylistic references to: Disney, Hannah-Barbera, Tex Avery, and Jon Kricfalusi. This Color pallet was extremely popular in the mid 90’s, and then reemerged in the late oughts; since then the influence of the cyberpunk aesthetic has meant that colors have gotten much more saturated. While the use of eyes on inanimate objects is nothing new, post “Cup Head” it does seem to be more prevalent. The design is wild and chaotic without being aggressive. It’s a touch of excitement an on ode a more reckless and frenetic past. In summary it’s a strong design with almost universal appeal.

Design by: HumanRockets
Price:  $22.38 @ Designbyhumans
Colors: Black, 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

That’s Life

That’s Life

“That’s Life, That’s what all the people say”, There’s a reason why the dancing scenes of ‘Joker’ resonated with so many people. You don’t need to have had the trauma or suffered mental illness to recognize what it looks like to find where abandon meets catharsis.

Youth today, and for awhile now has become more difficult and perhaps as a result more protracted; as a result you try and find the moments you can to feel free, to feel light and unburdened. It’s the search to feel good, because it’s going to be a long time before you are good in fact. The funny part is when you finally reach that stability, the calm and security, the wild times of scraping by will be what you miss then and thereafter. This sentiment, among a handful of others, was what made the movie more than just another comic book movie. It is also here within the design, a single frame.

The use of Type superimposed over an image, as is done here, is fairly rare. The blending of words one character into another is also fairly unique. The art style of the figure (etching) is also a bit unusual for apparel. Taken together, the design does a good job of distilling its source material down into a unique and powerful design.

Design by: samotnjak
Price:  $28.00 @ Threadless
Colors: Black

Vintage Glitchy Computer

Vintage Glitchy Computer

Stylistically this image is very reminiscent of that of the OVA ‘Dead Leaves” in its use of jarringly bright colors and thick black outlines. FLCL comes to mind as well, as anytime an old fashioned TV and an anime style are paired together it’s difficult to think of anything other than the character of Canti .

Glitch as a style has a lot of potential, whereas vaporwave and outrun are less adaptable, and might reasonably be described as superficial genres moored in a handful of their stylistic conventions. Those two genres will ultimately live and die by their conventions in the same way that steampunk did. Glitch as a style rather than a genre is much more transmutable, though, as of yet there isn’t any great champion or movement behind the form.

The interesting thing about the image, which the wearer could realistically expect no one to notice, or think about is the top down narrative of tv to computer, the fragile sticker to that of Parental advisory. There is plenty of room for interpretation. Ultimately the question is in the statement: “the end”?

Design by: Trentain
Price:  $23.21 @ Redbubble
Colors: Blues and Neutrals

Evil Girl Japanese Kanji Ornament

Evil Girl Japanese Kanji Ornament

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.

Design: by: Owlvision33
Price:  $22.40 Threadless
Colors: White

3-2-1 Let’s Jam

3-2-1 Let’s Jam

Cowboy Bebop Tee

The Show ‘Cowboy Bebop’ does not suffer a lack of good t-shirt designs. One of the hallmarks of the show was the way in which it blended genres and styles such as noire, scifi, westerns, or jazz. Over the years this genre bending has proven fertile ground for designers and Cowboy Bebop provides artists a lot to work with. Of all the shirt designs I’ve seen ‘3-2-1- Let’s Jam’ has always been my favorite.

Compositionally this work Reminds me a lot of the movie posters done by Drew Struzan [Blade Runner, Indiana Jones, The Empire Strikes Back] with its stacked figures and distortion of scale. This makes sense as the poster would have preceded the shirt, and likely would have been influenced by the history and nature of that media, but it’s surprising just how well most of Iaccarino’s poster designs translate to t-shirts. Those who use the rectangle of their canvas, by cropping specific elements for the purpose of creating balance within the composition, as is done here, will struggle along the borders of their work when it is transferred to apparel. Thankfully Iaccarino has chosen to avoid what is, in my opinion, the cardinal sin, of slapping a large rectangle on this shirt. This never looks good and I don’t know why anyone does it. Through the use of shrewd editing has managed to avoid this pitfall, and the silhouette of the design is very strong.

In terms of color, the design utilizes that pared down palette that seems to be in fashion with the ‘limited edition movie poster‘ set. The palette while perhaps being a little closer to cyberpunk in its saturation comes across as more of a personal take on the show’s ‘space noir’ art style then a perfectly faithful reproduction.


Design by: Artist| Alexander Iaccarino, Username| thatkidwhodraws
Price:  $20 TeePublic
Colors: Black

Ukiyoe Blinky

Ukiyoe Blinky

‘Ukiyoe Blinky’ is an amazing design. Unlike many of the pop culture shirts you’ll find on sites like TeeFury or Riptapparel this design can stand on its own without reference to the original IP.

Generally it’s pretty hard to pull off a graphic this large on a t-shirt; When the shirt is hung around the body, parts of the design tend to become obstructed, which can lead to the design feeling incomplete or ill conceived. However in the case of this design I think Ledin has done an exceptional job and holding the viewers eye with such a large image. The red circle does an excellent job of anchoring the piece, The three white eyes draw your attention to the right but the overhang of the tale and its curve pulls you back towards the center. Even the stamp on the bottom right helps to balance out the piece by counterbalancing the weight of the tale on the right.

For those of you wondering Ukiyoe is a form of Japanese woodblock printing that was popular from the 17th to 19th century. While the half-toning and texturing of the design mean that this design could not actual be achieved by woodcut, the artist does do a good job of conveying the medium within the scales of the fish, and the style in general, and possibly Hokusai in particular, with the outlines of the water. The stylization of this somewhat obscure Simpsons Character means that a lot of people will compliment you on the shirt without even getting the reference and that that would happen with a show as popular as the Simpsons are is no small feat.

Designed By: Tom Ledin
Best Colors: Black or Navy
Cost: $19.95 @ ParkofTees

Godzilla Showa Celebration!

Godzilla Showa Celebration!

So what the hell is “Showa“? Apparently its a period in Japanese history that spanned 1926-1989 and was marked by the reign of Emperor Hirohito. As westerners, the significance and nuance of this demarcation might be lost. The militarization, the post war occupation, and the ultimate rebuilding of Japanese society and its economy into one of the world’s great superpowers seems like it ought to be one of the more, if not the most, turbulent times within the countries history. These figures, beginning with Godzilla and steadily multiplying, the Kaiju were an allegory for the destruction of the nuclear bombs that devastated the country alongside more conventional horrors and ordinances unleashed by America. The unnatural mutated forms that the kaiju represented were perhaps the beginning of a cultural dominance that Japan. While Japan’s soft power game at the government level might be no better no worse than any other nation, the infiltration of Japanese culture, art, and sensibilities into western culture is second to none. Japan like any other nation has a rich history, but the modern adaptation and their proliferation- no one does it better. This design, the stylized celebration of Japanese innovation works so well, because it points to the creativity and adaptability that exist within the Japanese market. One can only wish that America or any other country could be so adaptable and experimental.

Design by: Seaguns Shirt Salvo
Price:  $20.00 @ Teepublic
Colors: Black, White, Grey, Tan

Red Queen

Red Queen

It’s hard to pin down this look. There’s metal, vaudeville, gothic, punk, steampunk, rock and roll, and glam. Where would this fit. What makes this image so dynamic is the confluence of so many stylistic influences that serve to frame the imperial and disdainful expression of the figure’s face. This character feels like Bathory (who bathed in blood) had she existed in a slightly different time and place. One might fill out the deck with Olga of Kiev, Mireya Moreno Carreon or Griselda Blanco, Ranavalona I, Mary Tudor, or Catherine Medici. The character design is extremely compelling. It’s a bit sad that the card deck is represented only in IP such as ‘Star vs the forces of evil’ and a minor gang within the DC universe.

The mini crown is vaudeville, the hairstyle glam, the brown collar steampunk, the red eye paint and horns punk (or rock and roll à la Screaming Jay Hawkins) , the black and red pallet either metal or gothic. The ornamentation in the background helps with the overall shape; although it might have been a bit more effective with a 3d element- maybe a beveled edge. Overall the image is strong, with an evil and heart, or an evil heart vibe that should speak to a number of demographics.

Design by: MedusaD
Price:  $22.00 @ Teefury
Colors: Black, Navy