Introducing Colus Havenga

Designer and animator, Colus Havenga, recently launched his latest project, Colus. The designs are quite interesting in that only the colors black and white are used. The designs are quite minimal and look as if they could have come straight out of Havenga’s sketchbook (and that’s not a bad thing). Bold lines are intertwined with sketch like imagery. I can imagine that these designer T-Shirts would look great, either stand alone, or even under a sporty black blazer. Even Kings Fail (last design seen below), is my favorite design from the bunch.

“Black and white. No convention. No visual trickery. This is colus. Crafted without trend, colour or design stunts to hide behind, this collection tries to stay in its humblest form of design where negative space is as important as the art itself. Colus explores themes of morality through to mortality with symbolic, bold, contrast rich works with an underground tone leaving questions unanswered.”

All Colus shirts are printed on white American Apparel tees are are available now at the Colus online shop for $30 a piece. Tip: If you sign up for the Colus newsletter, you can score a 15% off coupon code. You might want to act on this because i’m not sure how long this offer will last).

Co-Tee TV Episode 79: Fancy FFB, Doctor Hazmat and Vintage NES

In this episode of Co-Tee TV I wear FFB Fancy by Fur Face Boy and review Super Doctor Hazmat by Doctor Hazmat, a super fun brand from Brooklyn, New York, that takes the mad scientist theme to the next level. Doctor Hazmat is a mad scientist that just loves to keeps hazardous materials in his lab. And sometimes when things go awry, crazy creatures and monsters are created, like M.A.C., the doc’s crazy robotic assistant.

Fur Face Boy sent me an insane amount of T-Shirts from their Series 3 Line. I will be featuring the shirts throughout Co-Tee TV Episodes 70-79 so definitely keep an eye out for even more Fur Face Boy in the coming weeks! See Episode 70 of Co-Tee TV for the Fur Face Boy full review.

You can also watch this episode on Vimeo, Viddler, YouTube, blip.tv and download and sync all episodes to your iPod, iPhone or iPad by subscribing for free to Co-Tee TV in the iTunes Store.

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Coty’s Thoughts:

Super Doctor Hazmat by Doctor Hazmat. Pros: So much to love about Super Doctor Hazmat! First of all, I really dig the retro throwback 8-Bit style. It instantly brought me back to my childhood of playing Super Mario Bros. on my NES for hours at a time. For me, great shirts tend to bring back nostalgic memories and Super Doctor Hazmat definitely did that. Doctor Hazmat uses American Apparel blanks, so I had no issue when it came to the T-Shirt itself, it was very soft and had a comfortable fit. The print on this tee is HUGE and the design works perfectly as a large print. The shirt features a 5 color print that is not only large but also quite soft. You’ll also find that the tee is tagless and features a custom screen printed neck label instead. Also, on the back of the tee you’ll notice the Doctor Hazmat seal of approval.

Suggestions: Doctor Hazmat is a brand new brand, and so it’s no surprise that all of the focus for this initial released was poured into the part that mattered the most – the T-Shirt (this is a good thing). However, this leaves a lot of room to do some crazy fun things for future releases. I’d love to see custom packaging (fun, whimsical, colorful) to go along with the very loud T-Shirt designs. You could do some really crazy things, theme wise, with Dr. Hazmat. Just step into any science lab and you’ll be swarmed with tons of potential ideas (this is great for the theme). Also, another professional touch that could potentially be added later would be a hang tag. Again, this can be done in a variety of creative way. For instance, instead of a “hangtag” per se, he could use something similar to the Hazard sticker that is often found on the door of any science lab. So many great possibilities, I really look forward to seeing what Doctor Hazmat does in the future!

Price: $25 but you score 15% off your ENTIRE order by using the coupon code COTY at checkout!

FFB Fancy by Fur Face Boy. Pros: It’s been 9 straight episodes of Fur Face Boy goodness and so I think that it’s safe to say that I now have Fur Face Boy in my blood. I can’t say how much I’ve become a fan of this brand. Fur Face Boy is meticulous, detailed, and retro but current enough to be interesting for consumers. Most importantly, with every single Fur Face Boy T-Shirt that I’ve worn and that I have reviewed, I can just feel the passion resonate from each piece. A little piece of Ha Mai (the Fur Face Boy Founder) can be felt with each and every one of his T-Shirts. Trust me when I say that when you order a tee from Fur Face Boy, you will not just receive a tee, you’ll receive a tee made with love and a detailed eye. Much respect.

Price: $19.99 (On Sale).

Also mentioned in this episode:

The New MacBook Air

Apple FaceTime

The Upcoming Mac App Store

If you want to send me a product to review, please feel free to do so. You can find my information in the contact menu above. Thanks!

Cute microbes on sale

Guy Kawasaki’s Design A Book Cover Contest: A Good or Bad Idea?

I should first note that I do not consider myself to be a graphic designer in any way. I wish I had the skills of the artists whom I profile on a daily basis, but alas, I do not. Having said that, I’d like to talk a little bit about the controversy surrounding the Design A Cover project set forth by Guy Kawasaki on the crowdsourcing site, CrowdSpring.

Two days ago, the former Apple Evangelist, social media guru and Alltop founder, posted a call for entries for people that were interested in designing a cover for an upcoming book project of his, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions. Kawasaki used the site CrowdSpring to open up the contest to those who were interested. CrowdSpring is a site that individuals can use to find professional designers to create things like logos, stationary, illustrations, and even clothing designs. Here’s an excerpt from the CrowdSpring About Us page:

By helping Buyers reach countless creatives across the globe, we’re changing the game for the little guy. Now small businesses, one-man shops and individuals anywhere can tap into a global pool of creatives for logo design, web design, company name, product name, packaging design, and many other graphic design, industrial design and writing projects. – CrowdSpring

Soon after Kawasaki posted the contest offering on CrowdSpring he of course let his Twitter followers know, all 258,000 plus. To the surprise of many, there was what seemed to be a backlash from a subset of Kawasaki’s Twitter followers. Designers revolted and accused Kawasaki of offering “spec work” that in effect ripped off the designers that entered and would have a negative effect on other designers within the industry. Here are a few of the Twitter comments:

“@frenden @GuyKawasaki add that up for all the people involved and that’s a LOT of free work for nothing” via @progressions.

“@GuyKawasaki If exploiting the hard work of others equals a pay off, I’ll pass.” via @frenden.

“@GuyKawasaki How about you just use your money to hire a legitimate illustrator rather than taking advantage of the inexperienced? #nospec” via @LandauArt.

Those are some strong words right there coming from experienced graphic designers (Frenden and LandauArt).

So, let’s back up a little but. Some of you might be wondering: What the heck is “Speck work?”

Spec work (short for speculative) is any job for which the client expects to see examples or a finished product before agreeing to pay a fee.

Basically, a client offers a job to any designer interested in the job. The client then, theoretically, receives multiple submissions from a variety of designers. He then picks the one that he likes the best and then pays that specific designer. The other designers who also submitted their work will receiving nothing for the work that was submitted and rejected.

Designers tend to prefer clients review the portfolios of various designers and then offer the job to a single designer that best fits their needs. The designer would then negotiate his/her rate with the client and would then design the project for that client.

Seasoned designers often hate the concept of “spec work” because:

  1. the designers commits time to a project, but is guaranteed nothing in return.
  2. the designers are forced to prove their worth when in fact the potential client can simply refer to the designers portfolio.
  3. some designers consider spec work to be a major ethical flaw.
  4. “unlike other industries is unique in that the intellectual property is put into your deliverable, and when the client asks for you everything you have to put into the project to think about purchasing.” via Andrew Hyde.

So now that you understand what “spec work” is and why many designers loathe it, let’s discuss why I think Guy Kawasaki’s Design A Cover Project is not so bad of an idea. In fact, I think it is an awesome idea.

First a few facts.

Guy Kawasaki is an established figure with a reputable background. He is respected within the tech industry and thought to be a forerunner in the social media movement.

Crowdsourcing*/spec work has become a major part of the social media movement. There are many examples in which large company’s provide an open call to designers to submit their work with no guarantee of payment. Threadless, for example, receives thousands of T-Shirt design submissions each week and only prints a handful of new T-Shirts each week. Needless to say, there are many people that submit to Threadless with no guarantee that they will receive payment for their work.

However, as Andrew Hyde has pointed out before:

“Bandwagon fallacies don’t work for a lot of things, including this. If you are talking about ThreadLess, they have done a very good job a) paying their designers fair market value b) involving a community in the beauty of design that traditionally would have been left out and c) making clear that the designs are done for the love of design, not for a 3rd party to profit off of.”

But I have seen other up-and-coming T-Shirt design contest sites use the same model and not pay nearly as much as Threadless. Some of these sites pay $500 or less. And let’s not forget that Threadless, when first starting out, did not pay market value like they do today. Hyde also notes in point c: “designs are done for the love of design, not for a 3rd party to profit off of.” But come on, at the end of the day Threadless loves design BUT they also love bringing in the money. They are a business, a multi-million dollar business that thrives on spec work.

UPDATE 1 (8/2/2010 at 10:45 am): Some people in fact do not consider what Threadless does to be “spec work.” Here’s one reason why according to Creative Pro:

Some designers believe that sites like threadless.com are a better alternative to cattle-call contests. Threadless produces t-shirts based on artwork submitted by designers. Winning artwork not only gets printed up but also bags the designer $2,000. Why is threadless different? Members of the site — designers themselves — vote on each design. It’s a collaborative community-based decision rather than the edict of a client who may not be well informed about the nuances of successful design.

However, if I am going by the definition of spec work provided earlier, “any job for which the client expects to see examples or a finished product before agreeing to pay a fee.” then I have to say that Threadless is in a fact a form or a type of spec work. It is true that the designers vote on submitted designs and the chosen designs that go to print are a combination of Threadless discretion and communities votes. But at the end of the day, though, there are still many, many people who submit to Threadless who spend countless hours on a project before they are selected as a winner and if they are not selected as a winner then they do not receive any payment. They do, however, retain all rights to the artwork and can resell or submit to other sites or even produce the product on their own. Does the community involvement not make what Threadless does spec work?

Back to Kawasaki’s Design A Cover project. Why would I do it?

  1. If you are an up-and-coming designer, with little to no real world experience then you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
  2. It’s not just about the $1000, but it’s what could potentially arise from you making a connection with Guy Kawasaki.
  3. Kawasaki is a big time player in the social media world and tech industry. He tweets a lot, but more importantly, he engages with his community of loyal followers and friends through multiple mediums.
  4. In fact, he is already engaging with his community in regards to this project. Submissions are already being seen by thousands on Alltop and comments and feedback are plentiful.
  5. Even if your design is not selected, there is a good chance that it will be seen somehow. In fact, this is what Kawasaki did the last time he ran a similar cover contest in 2004: Design Eye For The Startup Guy Contest. There is even speculation that non-winning cover designers may make it to the back of the cover sleeve.
  6. Kawasaki’s rate of $1000 is reasonable and competitive. This site (Alpha Advertising) offers a professional package that is priced at $1000. This designer (Archer Graphics) specializes in book covers and charges $800-$900. And there are a few more here that charge the same or similar rate.
  7. If the design is not selected, it would make for a good portfolio piece.

At the end of the day, I think Kawasaki’s Design A Cover project is an excellent idea and a wonderful way to network and build your portfolio. Professional designers may not think this and rightfully so. They have the experience, payroll, and contacts to allow them that right. They have the right to refuse work and offer their own rates. Up-and-coming designers may not have the same privilege and may jump at the opportunity to work with Kawasaki to get their work out there and rightfully so – they should not be persecuted or looked down upon for this decision.

As an outsider looking in (I’m not participating in this contest) and as a non-designer that is enthusiastic about social media, I must say that this battle between Kawasaki and a select subset of designers has intrigued me. Let’s not forget the old saying of you get what you pay for. Kawasaki may not get the most renown book cover artist to design his cover, but he is doing what he does best for many years now – engaging with his community in a positive and interactive way. He could easily pay someone $5000 to design a cover for him, heck he could pay much more than that. But that’s not what he does. He engages his community. This is him doing exactly that.

This Design A Cover project is not about ripping off professional artists, but rather, providing an opportunity to those who 1. are not as fortunate as those professional designers that are on a steady and current payroll, and 2. simply want to enter just for the heck of. If in fact Kawasaki did go the “review a bunch of portfolios” route, he would be ignoring almost all of the people that fall under type #2 (those that simply want to enter just for the heck of) – bad idea considering he would be ignoring a large portion of his rabid fans, a death move for a social media guru like Kawasaki. And of course, up-and-coming designers tend to have small network, which would theoretically reduce their chance of being reviewed by Kawasaki. By crowdsourcing the book cover design, Kawasaki is not only reaching out to all designer types, both seasoned veterans and fresh up-and-comers, but he is also extending the offer to his large fan base.

Guy Kawasaki is definitely using social media to his advantage. Is he abusing it? I don’t think. Is he making the experience interactive, fun and enticing? I think so.

What do you think? I know that I am probably opening myself up to a can of worms BUT I’d still love to hear what you have to say about the issue! Let your voice be heard and leave a comment below.

*I use the term crowdsourcing synonymously with spec work HERE because in fact, crowdsourcing as we know it is a form of spec work. It is an open call to large group of people to get a particular task done. Threadless considers themselves to be a company that thrives on crowdsourcing. However, I should note that in the case of Threadless, both the designer and Threadless retain all rights to the designs. At CrowSpring, the buyer (in this case Kawasaki) becomes the “sole and exclusive owner and copyright proprietor of all rights” pertaining to the design.

Here’s an excellent video from SXSW 2009 that looks at spec work from both perspectives:

Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions

Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions

Damon Carlton And A Polar Bear: 10 AWESOME Lost T-Shirts

If you’re hunting for some limited edition LOST T-Shirts then look no further than the following Tyson/Givens commissioned designs. The project is titled Ronie Midfew Arts and Damon Carlton And A Polar Bear Presents…

This amazing collection of LOST T-Shirts features the artwork of designers such as Olly Moss, Marky of Glamour Kills, Mike Mitchell, Brandon Rike, and Dr. Romanelli. These limited edition T-Shirts are screen printed and are limited to 550 prints (with 500 being up for sale on the website). All of the tees are priced at $25 a piece.

In celebration of LOST’s final season and to bring finality to the LOST poster series,8 top designers and artists, who are also fans of the show, were commissioned to create artwork celebrating top moments from the 6th and final season. 4 artists you may recognize, and 4 new artists to the campaign, created labor intensive, hand-pulled screen prints, limited to an edition of just 550, with 500 available to the public through our website. Once this limited edition print has sold out, they will never be printed again. Celebrate finality with this unique, signed and numbered piece of history.

Seriously, I want all of these T-Shirts.

Team Jacob

Trust Me

Locke Honor

Drive Shaft Tour

Hiero

Deus Ex Machina

Not Penny's Boat

Mother

Skull

Smoke

And if these are enough then be sure to check out 209 other LOST T-Shirts spread across the following two lists:

108 Lost T-Shirts, Tees, Shirts, T's

101 LOST TShirts

Sympathy For The Unusual Summer 2009 Collection

Italian based brand, Sympathy For The Unusual, recently released their debut line of designer tees. This collection of internationally designed shirts features the work of artists from all over the globe. 

This initial release features six different tees from six different artists, including: Matt Joyce, Rubens Cantuni, Ed Nacional, Andy Smith, Lorena Vigil-Escalera and Unusual Design Movement. 

Each shirt is quality cut and trim size featuring 100% cotton and a special print inside each left sleeve, all you need to do to uncover it is roll up the sleeve!

Sympathy For The Unusual

Sympathy For The Unusual

Sympathy For The Unusual

Sympathy For The Unusual

Will Barras Custom Juxtapoz Tee

Juxtopz is one of my favorite Art & Culture Magazines and I’m always excited to get a fresh issue and check out what tees they have scattered throughout the pages. Here’s one tee that I spotted at the Juxtapoz blog and it features the artwork of Will Barras (Juxtapoz #91).  

“Will Barras is one of the original Scrawl Collective members and has maintained his original DIY aesthetic through his transition to a highly successful (and in demand!) artist.”

“He is one of those artists that it is almost impossible to copy because, well everyone knows it as his style and his alone. Over the years, Will has developed from the hip hop and skater/bmx graphics which made his name into areas a great deal wilder and more unpredictable.”

You can pick up The Lightening by Will Barras from the Juxtapoz shop for $23.95. 

Will Barras

Will Barras

Designer Tees by Emil Kozak

I recently stumbled upon an amazing designer from Barcelona, Spain. His name is Emil Kozak and he has a wonderful collection of clothing, accessories and screen printed posters for sale on his online portfolio site and shop. And let’s not forget, he has some amazing tees! If you check out his shop, be sure to stop by view his portfolio, he has done some amazing work for Kelly Slater, Nike and Element just to name a few.

The tees do come with a hefty price tag of 35.00 € ($46 US), but, just from the product views I can say that I honestly want one (or a few)! That simple, yet effective, signature cloud tee had me at hello. Enil Kozak is definitely a designer that I will be keeping my eye on. What’s even better is that all orders from now until May 1st will come with a free Emil Kozak typeface called Circulitos.

The Original

Stonecold Hearts

Ordenanza cívica

Avantgandhi