October 21, 2013

Threadless-ame Street Returns, part 1

Filed under: Feature — Tags: , , — Joe Hennes @ 9:57 am

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4

When we heard about Threadless’s latest Sesame Street-themed t-shirt design contest, my first thought was “Awesomesauce!” And then when I thought about writing reviews of all of the entries again, my second thought was “Exhaustedgravy.”  But then when I saw the submissions, my third thought was “Excitedsaladdressing,” because there are some really interesting pieces of fan art this time around.

In case you haven’t heard, Threadless is holding their fourth Muppet-themed t-shirt contest after their Muppet, Sesame Street, and Fraggle Rock contests.  This time, they’re tackling Sesame Street for a second time, but with the limit that the designs should only feature Elmo, Cookie Monster, and/or Oscar the Grouch.  The added focus may seem to hold a lot of artists back, but the end results are mostly pretty focused.

Due to the fact that we’re still catching up with our lives after a busy Comic Con, we’re already past the deadline for submissions.  Over 260 pieces were sent in, and they’re currently up for your votes.  Unfortunately, voting ends on October 22nd, so our reviews will extend until after your voting window closes.  We recommend you head over to Threadless right now and vote for all of your favorites, rather than waiting for our thoughts on googly eye placement and depictions of Dorothy.

Now for the part where I make an attempt to keep everyone from getting mad at me.  The following reviews are just the opinion of one guy.  So I apologize in advance if I pan something that you personally worked on.  Everyone has different tastes, and mine involve a love for the obscure, a disdain for copying previously existing art, and a healthy respect for originality.  I also have a fear of angry Muppet fans with torches and pitchforks, so hopefully you guys will take my ratings with several grains of salt.

Let’s take a look at the first batch of Elmo, Cookie, and Oscar submissions!  Yes, let’s.

1The Cookie Monster by Sophie

Our first entry features a girl named Sophie (that’s the character, not the artist) who is either wearing a Cookie Monster costume or being slowly devoured by him.  Or maybe she snuck into Cookie Monster’s belly so she could steal some of the undigested cookies before they make their way through his large intestine.  Suddenly that sly look on her face is a bit more sinister…

My rating: 3

2Sesameink

If Elmo, Cookie, and Oscar were splattered on this shirt alone, I’d probably dismiss it, but I really like the inclusion of the messy Street logo in the background.  I love it when something is so iconic, you can recognize it in its most basic form.  You can’t really say that about many street signs.

My rating: 3

3What About Your Cookie?

So let me get this straight.  If you’re wearing this shirt, you expect someone to say, “Hey, what’s this about a cookie?  Also, can I have one?”, and then you flip up the front of the shirt, revealing your bare abdomen and blinding you from the elements so you can show this innocent questioner the mugging face of Cookie Monster as you reply, “I am the Cookie Monster.  Thank you for your query about cookie.  Good day.”  And then you slowly step backwards through a hedge wall leaving no trace that you were ever there except for the lingering smell of chocolate chips.  Got it.

My rating: 2

48-Bit Chocolate Chip

This shirt makes me sad.  Not because it’s a bad design (far from it), but because it reminds me that there’s no such thing as a Mario-style video game starring Cookie Monster.  I would buy the hell out of that thing.  And this shirt, I guess.

My rating: 5

6Elmo

There are a few designs in this contest, including this piece, that look like pre-existing images pushed through a Photoshop filter.  Whether that’s actually what happened or not, I don’t know.  But if that’s what it looks like, then what’s the difference?

My rating: 2

5Fat is Beautiful

WHY???  The cookie placement, the weird wrinkles, the giant lips… Just… WHY???

My rating: 1

7No More Cookies

I’m torn between liking this piece for the stuffed look on Cookie Monster’s face and disliking it for the odd proportions of his stuffed belly.  Either way, it’s a clever way to show Cookie without actually showing any cookies.

My rating: 3

8Cookie Monster

There is a reason that Cookie Monster doesn’t have teeth.  They’re terrifying.  And these even moreso than his sharp, scary teeth.

My rating: 2

9Full Color Three

There’s something about the off-model proportions that make Elmo and Cookie Monster look odd.  I honestly don’t know how I’d fix it if I wanted to keep all three faces as circles.  But if that’s an issue that I’d have to settle with, then maybe it’s not worth attempting in the first place.

My rating: 2

10Sesame Street Cafe

Oscar should wear a bowler hat all the time always.  What a dapper grouch.

My rating: 3

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Square Monster / Bubble Monster

Here’s an example of a design that might work better if the contest was open to more than just these three characters.  While it’s great to see Elmo, Oscar, and Cookie in these simple forms, I’d love to see Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, Grover, and the rest along with them.  A shirt might feel a little empty with just three blocks or bubbles.

My rating: 4

13Simply Elmo

A t-shirt with a giant Elmo face probably isn’t necessary (aren’t there enough of those in stores already?), but I really admire the feather-like texture this artist put into the image.  Elmo really pops, and I almost feel like I could touch my computer screen and feel his fluffiness.  Maybe I’m totally wrong about not needing more Elmo face shirts…

My rating: 4

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15
Heart Cookie! / Oscar Semi Smiling / Elmo!

Cute.  Cute shirts.  The faces are done pretty well, but I really like the font of the names.  There’s something slightly retro about them, as if they were going to be opening for Tiffany at a mall concert.

My rating: 4

16Cookie Monster is Real

Gut reaction: CREEPY! Why is Cookie Monster manipulating a tiny version of himself? Does this mean he’s a puppet controlling a puppet, or has he been real all this time? So many questions!!!   Second reaction: I totally want a puppet version of myself.

My rating: 3

17Cookie Cosplay

Here we have the first shirt that I guarantee I would spend good money on if Threadless decides to print it.  How could you go wrong with Cookie Monster and Spock, especially since both Sesame Street and Star Trek contribute huge t-shirt sales??  The furry ears and the cookie Federation logo are just perfect.  The nerd in me wants this like nothing else.

My rating: 5

18Elmo

Elmo’s looking a little out of focus there.  Is this what Dorothy sees when Elmo forgets to clean her fishbowl?

My rating: 3

1920
Scram, Get Lost, Go Away!
/ Elmo Loves You

I feel like I’ve seen the Elmo version of this somewhere (can anyone out there confirm?), but I still dig them both.  Elmo’s looking a little cut-up, but Oscar’s quote takes place of his trash can really well.  I can definitely see either of these being worn on a shirt by someone who has something to say either about wanting people to go away or come closer.

My rating: 5

22Sesame Craft

It’s been done.  And better.

My rating: 1

23Wait! There’s a Monster!

Why do you think five of these Elmos are so concerned that Cookie Monster invaded their little square?  Two of them are cool with it, and the center Elmo is positively ecstatic.

My rating: 3

24Candy-Apple-Elmo!

One thing that we learned from My Week with Japan is that the Japanese will put Elmo’s face on just about anything.  And it seems that it’s just as easy to slap Elmo’s face on any picture, especially if it’s already red.  Besides, it takes a little more imagination to get anyone excited about a candy apple t-shirt, with or without Elmo’s face.

My rating: 1

25Scram!

Here’s a t-shirt design for people with low self esteem!  Or am I the only one making the connection between Oscar’s trash can and boobs?

My rating: 3

26

New Home for Oscar

I wonder if Oscar wishes his home had wheels, if only so he didn’t have to stick his legs out from the bottom of his can to get around.  I can totally see him pimping it out with a lawnmower motor and steering wheel, scaring the crap out of the pigeons on Sesame Street.

My rating: 3

27C is for Cupcake!

I’ve always found those Sesame-themed cupcakes to be a little disturbing.  As if I’d be interested in eating the head of one of my favorite fictional characters.  I mean, that doesn’t stop me from eating the cupcake, but I feel a little guilty about it when I do.

My rating: 2

28Reaching for the Stars

I have SO many questions.  Assuming the moon is actually a giant cookie (not much of a logic leap, really), someone from Sesame Street planted their flag there?  As if Grover built a rocket ship and became the first monster on the moon?  And Cookie Monster can ride his bike there?  And Oscar’s trash can can balance comfortably on the rear spoke?  And and and… I think I’m hyperventilating!

My rating: 3

29Sesame Street Team

I wouldn’t say that this is a particularly striking t-shirt design, but these would make cool iPhone covers!  Also worth mentioning: I think this is the only appearance of Big Bird in the entire contest.  Weird!

My rating: 3

30The Missing Link

Have the Bigfoot hunters ever tried laying out a cookie to see if it lures the beast within camera shot?  If not, that may explain pretty much everything.

My rating: 4

31

It’s Me Elmo!

Elmo is so sad, the tears are literally shooting out of his eyeballs!  Don’t let that smile fool ya!

My rating: 2

32

Halloween is Coming

So what do you think, is the cookie on the right cosplaying as The Count?

My rating: 4

33The Awakening

Interesting art deco version of Oscar, who is very deserving of being depicted in the art deco style.  He’s looking a little squat, or maybe a little too large for his can, but it still totally works.

My rating: 4

34Cookie Monster

We’ve seen the “scared cookie/Cookie Monster is a real monster” thing a lot, but this one gets an extra point for putting the cookie right in the shadow of Cookie Monster’s stomach.  Where he belongs.

My rating: 4

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37

The Cookie Monster in Me / The Grouch in Me / The Elmo in Me

Something is popping with these designs, which are very close to being boring, but it’s almost as if they’ve got a third dimension.  Maybe it’s just the fact that they’re not the same solid, straight-ahead faces that we usually see, but they look really great (and slightly to the side) to me.

My rating: 5

38Say Hello

The fact that Elmo has that inexplicable green strap on his arm tells me that this image was taken from somewhere else.  Possibly a picture of Elmo wearing a backpack, or showing respect for a bright green loved one who recently passed away.

My rating: 1

39Tickle Me Elmo

Fun Fact: An invitation for tickling takes on a completely different meaning when a wink is included.  Another Fun Fact: Elmo is 3 1/2 years old.  It’s just weird.

My rating: 1

40Cookie Monster!!!!!

“PUNY GROVER! COOKIE MONSTER IS THE HUNGRIEST ONE THERE IS!”

My rating: 2

41Cookie BBQ

I’m not even kidding, I’m totally trying this during my next cookout.  Cookie Monster may have changed the way we barbeque forever.

My rating: 4

42Cookie!!!

As adorable as I think it’d be to dress my nieces and nephew up in baby Cookie Monster clothes, I don’t think the Threadless community is as interested in voting for t-shirts for their offspring.  They want video game references and detailed artwork and something they can wear to their friend’s loft concert.  It’s a good idea, but with no chance of winning.

My rating: 3

43Within…

It’s simple, it’s well drawn, and it boils all three characters down to their essence.  I dig it.

My rating: 5

44Get Lost

Aw, Oscar looks so happy to be telling you to get lost.  It’s probably his most favorite thing to do in the whole world.  That guy loves shoving people out of his life.

My rating: 3

45Choose Sesame

Like the piece we saw a minute ago, this one boils the characters down to their essence.  But it does so via text, not through the art.  That’s just a little lazy, in my opinion, so I choose to not give this one a great rating.

My rating: 3

4653
Cookie Dreaming / The Cookie Gaze

Nope, I don’t like Cookie Monster with eyelids.  Especially when he’s so obviously traced from the “Got Milk” ad.  And the other one just looks dull in comparison.  As if we need a shirt that just has Cookie Monster’s face and the word “Cookie”.

My rating: 2

47The Three Musketeers

The cartoony versions of Oscar, Cookie, and Elmo are pretty similar in overall shape, furriness, and eye placement.  So mixing them together like this should result in something potentially cool, but instead it looks like Oscar fell into some paint (and therefore is really happy to be covered in a new kind of filth).

My rating: 2

48Monster Cookie

Cookie Monster sure does enjoy the eating of cookies.  That cookie, for instance, seems like the sort of thing Cookie Monster would partake in.  There is nothing else to say.

My rating: 2

49You Are a Cookie Monster!!

Has this artist ever been to a t-shirt store?  Because there’s an almost identical shirt being sold literally everywhere.  Literally.  I can buy a shirt with Cookie’s face on it at my local deli.

My rating: 1

50C.E.O.

Ooh, that’s pretty.  Great depictions of all three characters (although Oscar looks a little small compared to Elmo, but I’ll let that slide).  I’m mostly impressed by the coloring, which gives them all a lot of depth.  Very nice.

My rating: 5

PrintSesame Street Avengers

I try not to pay any attention to the titles of the entries since they won’t end up on the shirts themselves, but what the heck does this design have to do with The Avengers??  And what’s it trying to accomplish?  Elmo looks really uncomfortable with his arms up above his head, Cookie Monster is humongous, and I guess Oscar is supposed to be part trash can?  But, like, a really clean, undented one, which isn’t anything like Oscar’s can.

My rating: 1

52Geometric Monsters

Good effort, but not nearly Sesame enough for a non-Muppet geek to get.  Take away the cookie, and none of the three portions would be immediately recognizable.

My rating: 2

54Oscar’s

I saw an Oscar toy (which I think was actually a shampoo bottle) that looked just like this guy.  It was notable because I think it’s the only time you can ever see Oscar’s rear end.  I wonder if that toy was used as a guide for this artist.  I also wonder if there’s any way I can ever get an Oscar statuette just like the Academy Award.  My mantle has an Oscar-shaped hole in it, and I need that to fill it.

My rating: 4

55Minimalist Elmo

Everyone.  Stop.  Go outside and look at t-shirts that already exist.  Then report back to me and tell me how many Elmo faces you saw.  The answer will not be zero.  Then submit a design that is not that.

My rating: 1

56Anatomy of a Monster

I have to admit, I only vaguely recognized this as a spoof of Saul Bass’s “Anatomy of a Murder” title sequence.  Even still, it’s a striking image, and well made.  Maybe a little morbid, but I have no problem with it in this case.  It’s classic.

My rating: 5

57
Oscar and Slimey

I really wish I like Oscar’s design here more, because I love the idea of Oscar and Slimey as superheroes.  But he’s just a little too off-model for me to love it.  That won’t stop me from imagining what sort of messy deeds and trashy heroics this disgusting duo would get into.

My rating: 3

58
Cookie Stripe

Those cookies most definitely do not look like stripes.  It’s more like a big cookie square.  But I’d be down for buying a shirt that looked like it was striped, but only reveals to be cookies when you get up close with a magnifying glass.

My rating: 2

59
How to Get To…

Wow, weird.  These guys look nothing like their Muppet counterparts.  And yet, they look exactly like them.  I kinda wish they had their own Saturday morning cartoon.  I want to see them animated and bouncing around my TV screen.

My rating: 4

60
Nightmare on Sesame Street

I’d love to see a re-cut movie trailer that depicts Cookie Monster as a murderous B-movie creature.  He lurks through the inner city streets, eating everything in his way.  The last thing you smell is the scent of baked goods before he attacks.  No one is safe from… The Cookie Monster!  Om Nom Nomming this fall.

My rating: 4

61
One Guy’s Treasure..

This doesn’t look much like a company logo, but it’s still a nice image of Oscar, and it highlights his bizarre love of garbage.  That guy really loves rubbish!

My rating: 4

62
Cookie Monster

Once again, The Cookie Monster!  Just, y’know, hangin’ out.  Doin’ his Cookie Monster thing.  No, not eating cookies.  Just, like, being a guy.  Waving, I think.  With his left hand, not the really short one.

My rating: 2

63
CSI Sesame Street

It’s subtle, which may hurt this entry in the long run.  But what really makes it for me is the sheer look of horror in the cookie’s eyes.  “My god… He’s back.”

My rating: 4

64
Oscar the Groucho

Has this joke been done before?  If not, this artist should get a billion points for thinking it up.  Bravo, sir or madam.  Bravo.

My rating: 5

65
Today’s Show was Brought to You By the Letters C,M,Y and K

Yikes, trippy!  But great work finding a way to involve the characters by their color schemes, rather than the things they like.  Just add some pupils so they don’t look so soulless and I’d buy this shirt!

My rating: 5

66
Z is for Zombie!

Ooh, what a great picture to end on.  Sesame Street artist Evan Cheng has already drawn the characters as zombies, but as far as I know, none of the Sesame Zombie merchandise is available in the US (you’ll have to go to Japan if you want any of that).  So we’re long overdue for Walking Dead Muppets to appear on a t-shirt.

My rating: 5

That’s it for the first batch of Threadless t-shirt entries!  Head back to ToughPigs later this week for part 2, when we complain about a whole new set of great and terrible Sesame Street fan art!

Click here to beware the Cookie Monster on the ToughPigs forum!

by Joe Hennes – Joe@ToughPigs.com



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