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.
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.
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.
Generally when a work is purported to be deep you can assume whatever’s said is somewhat disingenuous in that it is more likely to be justification for the asking price rather than an essential part of the composition. Maybe it worked differently in the past; when supplies were expensive and output was low, when you had to buy and mix you own pigments and painstakingly reach for realism, maybe then artists took their time and thought thematically as well as compositionally.
Artist today, and probably in the past, as a group and in general don’t sit down think of a theme or message and work from there; because it’s not a helpful place to start. What artist generally do is I want to paint ‘X’, and in some cases, I want to say ‘y’, but the form, follows function (x follows y). These stories artists make up about their work is for the buyer/ the consumer. While a painter needs to paint for the audience, if they’re to have a unique voice, then they will need to predominantly paint for themself.
All of this is to say that while Jung is in the title seems like an easy shortcut to give this work substance that it doesn’t need. The image works well. It’s interesting because of the use of color, texture, and geometry. The artist almost certainly didn’t compose this with Jungian symbols in mind and it would be shocking if they were well versed in Jungian psychology at all. It’s ill advised to take the shortcut of association to provide a piece meaning. At the same time this type of posturing pervades the art world and makes its participants all the more insufferable. The image works, it’s strong as a design and within the context of apparel. It’s beneath the work to reference Jung. The image doesn’t need it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sometimes we choose a design based purely on aesthetics, sometimes it’s more the affiliation (I’m a fan of x), but other times a design can be aesthetically pleasing and simultaneously unassuming or ambiguous in a way that invites conversation without forcing the wearer to pledge any loyalty. This design has multiple elements going for it. Within this design our elements pertaining to: mid-century modern patterns, the ‘minimalist art style’ of popular video games and cartoons, science fiction, art history, and sacred geometry; That’s a lot of contextual heft for a design that at first glance would merely seem decorative.
Upon first viewing this pattern one might think of the Jetsons. There’s a definite space age/ early 60’s vibe to the design; but why? The answer is the lack of outlines as well as the space theme. while the block colors is within the realms of cartoons, no cartoon of the era was done without outlines. Today this style is called “minimalist art style”. This style can be seen in everything from ‘Samurai Jack‘ to video games such as ‘Journey’ or ‘Thomas was Alone’. While you don’t see it in the animation of the late 50’s, early 60’s, you will see it in the prints and patterns of the era.
It’s unfortunate that this style seems to have been saddled with the ‘minimalist’ moniker as minimalism, within the American context, will generally be though of in terms of: a pretentious modern art movement, zen buddhism, and Japanese interior design; all of which are completely unrelated to the works being done in contemporary animation. A better term would be ‘Cutout’ as in cutout paper, such as those done by Matisse in the the 40’s, and those works in the same tradition that now fall under the label of ‘paper craft’ within the context of fine art today.
More than anything the celestial form seems reminiscent of the art style contained within the classic scifi film ‘fantastic planet‘. The airbrushed detail at the top sets it apart from most of mid-century art. The inclusion of a mandala or random piece of sacred geometry enhances the uniqueness of the piece for its incongruity. Why the juxtaposition is hard to say. The two images work together aesthetically, but the underlying meanings of the association is a bit vexing. If you are a fan of scifi (‘SF’ is supposedly the term that distinguishes the noob from true fans, but…) , animation, mid-century whatever, or sacred non-sense this might just be the shirt for you.
“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.
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.
Art criticism, art interpretation invariable looks for meaning in order to justify its own existence, but sometimes meaning follows creation, and sometimes meaning is absent altogether until someone asks for it.
Artists work in form, by intuition, and under a vague framework; there are any number of ways within modern art to arrive at a finished piece. As a viewer, or a critic, there is this idea that a narrative or principle underlies every work of art. While this is possible, were one to ask an artist whether a concept, led to a series of motifs, and finally a finished piece of work, few artists would want or be able to claim the linear and hierarchical process of thought necessary to produce such a work. It’s possible to render a narrative within this image. Is it likely that the artist had a narrative, a message in mind while creating this work? Not at all. The majority of art is about visual ideas, inspiration i.e. what feels “right” to the artist, and not about overarching themes.
Aesthetically this image works well in terms of its use of color/ value, the balance of the shapes, its use of detail and obfuscation. It’s possible that the artist had something deep in mind in creating this piece, but only those who aren’t and haven’t ever actively engaged in making art as a compulsion would bet that form followed function.
Normally when you think ‘less is more’ in a design you think about the extreme end of simplicity e.g. Geometric abstraction of minimalism. This Design does well in that it’s minimal in both the compositional and detailed sense without you realizing it.
At the macro level the composition works because the artists broke the rectangle until the bottom edge remained intact, and that has a fade so that you don’t even really see it. There is the figure, and while the background serves to balance the image, it doesn’t draw attention to itself. The painting style is emotive in its large and choppy brushstrokes and add power to the scene. Finally there is “shadowrunner”, honestly not sure if that’s suppose to be anything else than one of the artists names; it’s such an ambiguous, and yet appropriate title for this design that it somehow works/ doesn’t detract from the design.
What the image is or is suppose to mean is hard to say. The use of pink as opposed to red or green can generally be associated with something more on the Sf and cybernetic end of the fiction spectrum rather than magic or fantasy. The tattoo seems to add to that idea. This is however not a design that seems to demand a narrative; rather, it seems like an image that can stand on its own or lend itself out to a larger body of work.
The power of this image is in the ambiguity that this art style lends to the subject. Though the image was probably made digitally it is very reminiscent of a certain method of spray painting that, seems to not have a name, and is done on paper and involves stencils, fire (sometimes), and the texturing and manipulation of the paint while it’s still wet.
The stile is well suited to the subject matter; how things are rendered providing hints as to how the creators or perhaps the viewer is suppose to feel about the various components of the image: the bomb has a very clear outline and no depth, it’s impactful and unambiguous, The plants seem represented in the negative, and cut into the ground in an unnatural way, but upon leaving the ground they become diaphanous and calm; The little girl framed by the sun- maybe the moon, is indistinct in a way that adds a nice ambiguity; is it danger, a memory, nostalgia that is there; lastly the bubbles, sharper in their rendering than the bomb itself, maybe the idea is that that is what we’re suppose to keep; but the question then is what does that mean about how the scene ended.
‘The bait’ works fine as a larger, more abstract shape, but it’s the closer inspection that reveals the power of the image. The question is whether the ugliness of history, and perhaps of modern life, might continue into the future. When you think of the future do you think things as being clean, almost sterile as is sometimes/ often represented within science fiction?
You must know that no matter the reassuring minimalism of the presentation, the interface of the space, or devices we use, today and in all probability into the future, there is something grittier, more primal, and inequitable behind these smooth surfaces. ‘The Bait’ isn’t just an image that lays the cables bear in its portrayals of one of humanities potential futures; the hanging figure is just as explicit in its portrayal of what might lay behind a more technologically advanced future in which we try and free ourselves from the mundane concerns of how we live. Imagery like this is important, because although most people in the “developed world” at least, live better than royalty of a few centuries prior, it shouldn’t be taken for granted that comfort means equity, or respect for human life, now or into the future.
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.