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It's a very subjective topic, but I think if you want to find the best designers period, you might want to look outside the t-shirt industry. Some of the folks doing design for fashion mags, DVD work, film concepting, etc., are probably the best around. They just don't happen to design t-shirts. However, if you got hold of one...
 

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I'm not sure if it's a question of which specific work I admire, but who has the skill? Some of the really hotshot designers out there (non t-shirt) are doing stuff that I might not necessarily like, but they are so good and so well educated that they can dazzle in any particular style if so directed by a client. The downside is that they are hideously expensive.

I bet a few of those types show up on Threadless every once in a while for kicks, but the majority of Threadless designers are probably pretty limited in their capabilities.

If I had an unlimited budget plus the necessary contacts, I'd go for some of the guys who've done concept design on the Pixar films, some of the Disney animated features, the senior designers at places like Razorfish, the same at big ad agencies like Leo Burnett, the same at the big game developers like EA, Blizzard, etc., maybe some of the Marvel designers...and Phil Foglio.

But I'm dreaming.
 

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You're right. There are some good, unique designs on Threadless. I think what I was more attempting to say was that there's a different caliber of designer out there as compared to the typical ones on Threadless. Sadly for us, those folks probably never design t-shirts. I'd love to see what the senior concept designer from The Incredibles would come up with for a t-shirt, or howabout some of the designers at WETA?
 

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Swing Easy said:
We're talking about totally different conceptions of art. Corporate commercial artists aren't trying to do funky, hip, artistic art. Likewise hip, funky people aren't looking to do slick commercial stuff.

I wouldn't underestimate or OVERESTIMATE the people on either end. In the end, I think it has more to do with the tastes, interests and goals of the artist.

For me, stuff like the "Invincibles" or something is totally slick and bloodless, and doesn't interest me in the least. Someone who likes that sort of thing, however, may think that urban "artsy" stuff is sloppy or just plain weird.

Apples and oranges and different stokes;)
I have to differ on this. I used to work in an animation studio (not as an artist, but as an interactive producer - dvds and video games). The artists/designers squirreled away in their little cubicles were certainly churning out slick commercial stuff 9-5, because that's what they were paid to do, and their education gave them the tools to do that. On their own time, however, they did amazingly creative, freaky unique design just to blow off steam. The funkiest stuff I've ever seen. Those guys were complete wizards.

All I'm saying is that the designer you're going to find in a Pixar cubicle will have amazing breadth of capability, far beyond what you're going to see in public (ie. Invincibles, whatever).

And as for the 4-color limitation - heck - Da Vinci did some amazing things with just one color.
 
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