Jelly

Jelly

This image is fairly straight forward mashup of two influences: neoclassic tattoo style and an excerpt of a famous print of jellyfish by naturalist Ernst Haeckel. There’s not a whole lot to say about the image other than the size is unusual for this print and works well.

It’s surprising how often one comes across Haeckel’s works or mashups thereof on apparel websites given how few people have ever heard of him. His jellyfish print could very well be the most appropriated biological drawing in the entire canon. To what extent this can be attributed to his skill versus this one particular subject is hard to say. It would seem though that Wolves, Owls, Lions are out and Jellyfish and Octopus are in.

What does that say about are time? It’d be interesting to think that zeitgeists have spirit animals; it would also be interesting to figure out how one might keep track. Perhaps the number of appearances on larger apparel store clothes; maybe every year ask tattoo artists what animals are the most requested. Certainly there are trends, but pos-covid a dolphin, butterfly, or big cat would seem a little- out of step or inane. It could be that creatures that float or sit serene to nearly vacant connects with how people are feeling in the context of their lives post-Trump/ -covid. Pug’s seem to be having a good year as well it would seem, so who knows.

Design by: J Barnett
Price:  $21.59 @ Curbside
Colors: Grey

Octoride

Octoride

Normally if you see enough references or touchstones of a genre/ an era you can predict exactly who a work like this will appeal to. This work is all over the place in its use of symbolism, but in a coherent way that seems to suggest a multi-generational style. The way children take on some of the touchstones of their parents youth: the records they hear at home as kids and continue liking as adults, some fashion their parents refused to give up and they later find themselves liking; this image sort of has that vibe to it. There’s something 50’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 00’s about the imagery all within a sand and ocean, maybe, tropical, sort of context.

The oldest thing within the piece is the shriner’s fez. The octopus and a burger would have been equally at home within the 50’s context and in later generations. The line work feels very 60’s/ 70’s with its various widths render making the image look a bit squiggly. While the colors could be either 70’s or 90’s the female figure, and the boom box are pure 80’s. The vehicle itself give the overall piece somewhat of a Tank Girl Vibe (90’s). The most current and incongruent aspect of the entire work is actually the panda which is definitely more 2010’s. This design ultimately seems to function in the same way that the decor of most of our homes, at least while young and single will: eclectic, chaotic, but somehow unified. The design feels like an intriguing encapsulation of both personal taste and experience.


Design by: Jesse Lonergan
Price:  $20.00 @ TeePublic
Colors: White, Maroon, Tan, Green, Blue,

Coral Snake

Coral Snake

For a site predicated on producing some of the cheapest shirts on the market it’s surprising how strong some of the designs on 6dollarshirts.com are. While shirts now run $9 to $12 on the site it’s still cheaper than any other site that’s been featured on this blog. “Coral Snake” isn’t a design that needs or warrants much analysis. It is what is. The colors are nice, the style is bold. There aren’t really any myths or connotations to this particular species in spite of the fact that coral snakes are apparently the most poisonous snakes in North America. With that being said here are some facts:

1. Coral Snakes have small non-retractable fangs and as a result they chew on their prey to introduce their venom.
2. The rhyme to distinguish coral snakes from their non-poisonous lookalikes is: Red on yellow (banding) kill a fellow, red on black friend of Jack.
3. They generally reach an adult size of 2 feet and can live up to 7 years in captivity.

Design by: NA
Price:  $9.00 @ 6 Dollar Shirt
Colors: Black, Navy

Surreal Death Moth

Surreal Death Moth

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

Bunny of Leaves

Bunny of Leaves

In the same way the embroidery tattoo trend of a couple of years back caught peoples attention this image’s idiosyncratic use, or illusion of material on an unsuited canvas is captivating. There’s always the question of how and why certain animals are anthropomorphized in the way that they are; A fox, perhaps because of the similarity in hues to that of autumn leaves would seem to be the obvious choice for this composition. Is the grey mold, should we take the shapes to be comprised of a man made material merely mirroring nature. The dead eyes and whiskers might suggest that. The eye’s realistically aren’t merely dead, they aren’t blended and don’t interact with the form. The eyes almost feel like Pareidolia made evident. It’s as if the artist saw it and is here sharing the experience. Nothing this perfect it likely to be found and that’s without the unnatural coloring that takes sometime to actually appreciate. The image is an assemblage of leaves, but there aren’t bits and scraps lying around a digital space. The intrusion of the unnatural elements (the eyes and whiskers) might then suggest that we neither see or appreciate icons, archetypes, symbols, within nature. It is only through the reshuffling and manipulation, through the re-contextualization of our devices that we can see, and fail to recognize meaning in our environment.

Design by: NemiMakeit
Price:  $22.00 @ DesignbyHumans
Colors: White, Navy, Blue, Black, Grey

Speed is Relative

Speed is Relative

Fuck yeah! Can this please exist in reality and it does really needs to. If a bear, a lion, and a tiger, can be besties why not a tortoise and a sloth? It’s hard to imagine a symbiotic relationship between these two species, because it seems like the sloth would just get a free ride, but the quiet, serene contemplation that the image seems to represent needs to exist. The image does well in that the color scheme is consistent and the image itself possesses enough novelty to make it worth one’s attention. The wearer might identify with the “turtle and the hare allegory”, (yes, this is a tortoise, but still) or it might be the meditative, chilled out posture of the sloth. In a world of social media, and ever fragmenting attention there’s something nice, maybe noble, about creatures that enjoy a slower pace of life. Has the Dalai Lhama condemned social media, or is he a willing participant? Nevermind, and fuck that. This shirt is worth highlighting because the idea of slowing down and deliberate action is something that is steadily being eroded away in modern times. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe not, but the older way of life certainly still has value and might inform our decisions and our views moving forward; that is what this design seems to represent.

Design by: MUsarter3D
Price:  $25.00 @ Designbyhumans
Colors: Black, White, Grey, Light Blue

Pughomet

Pughomet

Satanic imagery is interesting in that young adults may like it, but it has that association with the angsty goth phase that most of them would have seen or experienced in their early teens; as such the imagery sort of exists as a marker of arrested development. With the renaissance that has been taking place in the world or both Eastern and Western animation, the mixture of dark and mature themes and childish wonder have slowly become more intertwined and socially acceptable. The fact that Baphomet here is portrayed as a pug and softened further with stars and rainbow allows the image to work as dark symbolism of rebellion, while at the same time being humorous and a little self deprecating. Pre-pandemic irony and Bathos were the style of the day; whether or not that will still be the case in the post remains to be seen. If you want to learn more about modern day satanism you might do well to check out the documentary “Hail Satan?” about the satanist group that put a Baphomet statue next to a court house to protest the placement of a 10 Commandments statue within a public space. A bit of an aside Baphomet is supposed to be portrayed as having breasts, but perhaps that would be a step to far in the case of a pug hybrid.

Design by: Thiago Correa
Price:  $22.00 @ Teefury
Colors: Black, Navy, Blue, Charcoal

The Catch

The Catch

While puns are said to be the lowest form of humor, the visual pun is at least better than the lazy pop-culture mashup that prevails in the world of graphic tees and has any number of websites dedicated solely to those designs e.g. Bohemian Rhapsody meets star wars, Abbey Road meets Dr Who. Most Visual pun shirts rely on text, or feature a cartoons who’s simplicity in form may be taken as either an apology for, or conspiratorial wink by the wearer for the banality of the joke. In short, most pun shirts lack any artistic value.

Unlike most designs that feature a pun, the one found here is not the whole of the composition. You could remove the mouse and the blood and still have a strong design. The mouse, the red, and the pun are more the finishing element of the piece. The cat has been rendered extremely well, so well in fact that it adds humor to the joke. The eyes being the same color as the moon is a subtle detail and a nice touch. Overall there is something- lupine or old-monster-movie about the image; even without the blood. The shirt, while probably not to everyone’s taste is great in that it takes something “low brow” and makes it seem sophisticated.

Design by: Niceblood
Price:  $20.00 @ Teepublic
Colors: Tan, White, Grey, Light Blue

Owl Abstract Collage

Owl Abstract Collage

Mixed media, the dirty Rauschenberg style of composition is largely absent from the world of apparel. Why this is is hard to say; while this design does have specific elements that might get lost in translation is also has large and bold elements that will transfer just fine. With the rise of streetwear, the ubiquity of Basquiat, you’d think that the style that bridged abstract expressionism and pop art and acts as a stylistically antecedent to street art would be more common, but it is in actuality rather rare to see.

The composition for Owl as a whole is rather blocky. The image isn’t necessarily going for the frenetic energy that might be expected from an artist playing fast and loose with layering and assemblage; rather the owl, a symbol of knowledge and wisdom since the time in which Athena was relevant stands as a symbol for the state in which knowledge exists and is acquired in our distracted and fragmented time of awareness.

‘Owl’ represents contemporary youth and vitality in the sense that the main body is rigid by necessity, because youth and the ensuing recklessness that that entails can no longer sustained within our society of prolonged and ever expanding inequality. The youth today can’t afford to be young; not for a time as was common in the past. Today people are young into their thirties because the stability, the conditions to allow them to be otherwise have all but disappeared and the “prolonged adolescence” is rather a failure of society to allow them to find footing with the ‘adult’ world’. ‘Owl’ is a piece of our time not all knowing, but rather staring back and judging as to how so much optimism and vitality might be wasted.

Design by: NJordur
Price:  $22.38 @ Redbubble
Colors: Black, White, Grey, Tan