Le Passage Des Morts Nouveaux

Le Passage Des Morts Nouveaux

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.

Design by: Moutchy
Price:  $20.00 @ Threadless
Colors: Dark Grey

Fairy Knight

Fairy Knight

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.

Design by: Witnesstheabsurd
Price:  $22.38 @ Teepublic
Colors: White, Black, Tan, Grey, Blue, Red, Pink

Death Rides a Black Cat

Death Rides a Black Cat

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.

Design by: Obinsun
Price:  $22.40 @ Threadless
Colors: Black, White, Red, Green, Blue, Navy