New Technology (Submission, Verdict 5$)

New Technology - Threadless, Best T-shirts EverWhat I think of as bananaphone's characteristic look first showed up in his Let's make art!, which he submitted back in September of last year. The signature elements are all there: a childish/outsider drawing style; good balance across the design through use of shape, color, scribbling/texture, and positioning; and then, incredibly sophomoric thematic materials (here, "making art" with a little birdie and a piece of dynamite). If you check out a random set of submissions since then (say, My Friend Todd, Your Angry Face, and on to Captain Justicepants), you'll find that he steadily improves his ability to achieve his style. His use of color gets more subtle and appropriate, his control of the detail material improves, and he's able to manage more objects within his structures. Recently he's encountered a sort of self-imposed trap. When he works with thematic materials that he seems to know are profoundly unprintable (the macho posturing of Twenty Birds A Night, or deodorant in Ego Smells Good), he relaxes a bit, he leaves room for his elements to work together, and he creates some really interesting graphical designs. I particularly like Twenty Birds's subtler colors, textures, balance along the descending diagonal, and use of the light grey to create a second dimension of flow across the shoulders of the character. When he chooses to work with printable themes, on the other hand (I'm thinking of Family Movie Number One! and Ufo Over Brazil), he bears down and works hard on those subs, he puts a whole bunch more stuff into the design, and he ends up with a much busier, less straightforward overall feel. There's always something.... While I've been giving these designs increasingly positive scores, New Technology is the first bananaphone submission that i gave an enthusiastic "$" and look forward to buying. Even compared to some of my previous favorites, he's obviously relaxed a great deal here: the simple line work and amusing use of color set a nice minimalist tone. He's achieved relatively vivid character detail using economical means: the naive astonishment of the newbie, for instance, and then the knowing eyeglassed sophistication of the "expert". He's become very adept at placements: here, the characters are slightly left of center, perfectly balancing the thrust of attention and the speech flowing from left to right. And then, of course, this is a very witty submission into the Wired ♥ threadless competition, mocking generations of the sort of wide-eyed tomorrow-enthusiasts that make up the bulk of Wired's readership. This design is quite printable, and I'd love to wear it. Verdict: 5$ (View Submission


  1. Bree said,

    July 27, 2006 @ 10:47 am

    I couldn’t disagree with you more, but well said nevertheless.

  2. Steve said,

    July 27, 2006 @ 1:24 pm

    What part do you disagree with in particular? Isn’t that sort of discussion part of the fun? ;)

  3. Chris said,

    July 27, 2006 @ 4:03 pm

    I think your last paragraph speaks to what makes this design fun. It’s relaxed, it looks solid, it’s funny and it works. I’m not a huge fan of natural, but shirt colors that aren’t integral to the design end up getting repurposed anyway, so I don’t want to get hung up on that.


  4. yourmom said,

    July 27, 2006 @ 4:36 pm


    glad to see you writing still, but man I disagree with you. Just because bananaphone is a c*cksucker does not mean he is an artistic genius.

    His subs are to a one terrible and lacking in execution and vision.

    the only reason anyone pays attention to him is because of their fear that anyone who is that much of an a*hole must be talented.

    he is not he is just an a*hole

  5. Fart Attack said,

    July 27, 2006 @ 4:43 pm

    This piece of shit sucks balls. I give it a 0. Steve Swartz doesn’t know how to review because he never could design anything. And stop picking designs from the popular designers, you butt kisser.

  6. spencekarl said,

    July 27, 2006 @ 6:04 pm

    “And stop picking designs from the popular designers, you butt kisser.”

    clearly you haven’t read steve’s reviews before. he consistanly picks designs from a wide range of artists. popular and unknown.

    “Steve Swartz doesn’t know how to review”

    perhaps he should have chosen words such as “shit”, “sucks”, and “balls”. much more eloquent wouldn’t you say?

  7. shirtflirt said,

    July 27, 2006 @ 6:10 pm

    bananaphone, is the perennial underachiever of the lot who continuously vomits new(ish) designs from now to then. i’ve never been a fan of his art, mostly his commentary. i wouldn’t wear his designs, but i’d listen to him in a verbal throwdown.

    steve likes to write.

  8. Steve said,

    July 27, 2006 @ 6:18 pm

    bananaphone’s work sure does seem to elicit extreme responses. I suspect that’s partly because some people simply can’t accept his outsider/childlike style, partly because he often doesn’t seem to take his own submissions seriously, and partly because of his abrasive style on the threadless blog. yourmom, you seem to be reacting to his abrasive style. Fart Attack, you seem to be reacting to his outsider graphic style. I can understand both those reactions, especially if those things are just central to your aesthetic. Myself, I’ve seen a general improvement in his technique over time. New Technology is unusual in that it combines the best of his technique with perfectly acceptable materials in an interesting way, which is why I like it.

    Fart Attack, reviewing is about developing a well-articulated opinion about things, and designing is about creating things. They’re completely different activities. In the real world, competance in one is rarely associated with competance in the other. In fact, the opposite is often true: designers who take to reviewing will mess up their design skills, because they start thinking too much.

  9. shirtflirt said,

    July 27, 2006 @ 6:52 pm

    perhaps. perhaps another thing is that it’s a style. basic and simple. and although it lacks texture, it does reach into your gut and tickle you with a finger nail file. why would you laugh at pain? ask bananphone. he’d tell you why.

  10. Poo Masher said,

    July 27, 2006 @ 7:08 pm

    Bananaphone is a typical Aussie dickhead, the type of typical art wanker youll find at a design college or art school in Australia.

    For some or other reason, this asshole believes that, and regardless of what many will say, his work/style/ideas ect are even remotely clever and even remotely well executed.

    The funny thing is, i look at this guys website, his folio, his threadless submissions and cant see how someone who brags on about how he has years of experience in design and webdesign could have actually created that feeble rubbish. So therefore, from what i can surmise, is that Bananafone is one of those untalented, slightly creative guys, who was never really good at anything in life, other than having moderatly creative skills, as a result he became a “graphic designer”

    Unfortunatly for him, he is not the type of person to be easily effected by criticism or insult, so i think most of the time it is pintless. Again, as many dickheads youll meet, he has that, “I know you are, but what am i” attitude.

    Seriously, the man is an asshole.

  11. Bananaphone said,

    July 27, 2006 @ 7:14 pm

    Does anyone else find it hilarious that I am apparently a popular designer, even after this hate fest in the comments section? Maybe some of you should post your work, I can offer you a few tips if you’d like ;)

  12. Bree said,

    July 27, 2006 @ 8:06 pm

    “What part do you disagree with in particular? Isn’t that sort of discussion part of the fun?”

    The reason that I dislike most of his designs is because shirts are not your typical art form, wearing art reflects who you are and what you want to convey to the friends, family, and strangers you come across each day. Perhaps I would like Bananaphone’s designs if they were on, say, a notebook cover or buttons or something. But I just don’t want to emblazon that ‘outsider/childlike style’ on my chest. I think it’s ugly, and in all honesty, I see nothing special about it.

    I don’t mean to bash his style… and I’m sure Bananphone won’t care anyway (because we all know if you disagree with him, you must be inherently stupid and therefore your opinions don’t count). I just don’t think there’s as much genius behind it as a lot of people rave. I think we’re all looking far too deep into his designs.

    Yes, it’s unique, and some of the designs make me chuckle… but it’s not worth selling on $15-$17 shirts. I could emulate that style for myself in about five minutes, and I personally prefer buying designs that are in a style which I couldn’t create for myself.

    All of your points, Steve, are valid… and you and other people are free to like this design and Bananaphone’s other work. I have different tastes, however, and it’s just not the type of art I would ever want to wear on a Threadless shirt.

  13. Steve said,

    July 27, 2006 @ 8:20 pm

    Poo Masher, it’s really hard to imagine why you wrote that comment. Broad non-specific judgments about the worth of bananaphone himself and his art as a whole aren’t that fun to read. They’re very hard to reply to (because they’re unspecific). And, I can’t imagine they’re all that fun to write (except maybe in a mean spiteful way?). Whatever possessed you to go to the trouble?

    Bree, on the other hand, I think it’s real interesting to compare tastes: thanks for being so rich in your description of yours. While I do believe bananaphone’s technical control has improved steadily with his practice over the last year, up until New Technology he had never come up with a design that I would wear, for precisely the sort of “that isn’t me” reasons you’re talking about. Some of his designs turned me off because of their content, even though I liked the graphics; others turned off with the graphics, even though I didn’t mind the thematic content. But New Technology is really an advance, in my eyes. Given his general cantankerous resistance, you have to believe it kind of slipped through his offenses defenses. It’s simplicity removes many of the drawing devices I’ve thought of as ugly, and it’s themes are actually quite appealing (imagine wearing that to work at Microsoft!). So while you may have a more negative reaction to his work as a whole than I do, I think our judgments have been the same (at bottom) up until this shirt. Maybe because I’ve always seen it as a continuum, there was bound to be a time when one of his designs crossed the line for me. For you, it sounds like it might never happen. Anyway, thanks very much for going so far out of your way to assure me that we’re still friends even though we disagree. ;) I hope you know I feel the same.

    One other thing, Bree. I think your paragraph there about not wanting to bash his style reveals another problem bananaphone’s work has with the voters. While his online personna may amuse some people, I’m sure it turns off many more people. He’s probably established a solid core of people who will give him a “0″ for every design he ever submits, regardless of their quality. He has only himself to blame for that: but it’s a real thing, one that other people prone to random abrasiveness should consider.

    And bananaphone, don’t feel so special. The reason I only write about popular designers is because me writing about them is what makes them popular. ;)

  14. yourmom said,

    July 27, 2006 @ 8:31 pm

    amazing bananaphone’s response almost was that of a non mentally challenged child for once.

    ..sorry steve

    banana your “popularity” is out of all proportion to your talent. Which is quite low, at least in what you have put on display thus far. The vitriol of many of those against you, is enhanced by the fact that some misguided souls believe your a “genius” just because you are a c*cksucker. This brings forth in many people, it would seem vast depths of loathing for you and your subpar artistic efforts.

    sorry there bananaboy but not everyone is going to fall for the if banana is that much of a c*ck he must be good routine.

  15. Steve said,

    July 27, 2006 @ 8:38 pm

    What’s funny is, almost nobody is talking about this particular design. What do youall think about this particular design?

  16. Bananaphone said,

    July 27, 2006 @ 8:43 pm

    You know I have a problem with what you’ve said about my acceptance of criticism Bree. I am one of the most criticised people on threadless, and that’s fine. I know my work is not for the masses, I am just building up my niche core of followers. Therefore I am fine with the criticism, I find amusement in the people that ask me to die and never design again, one person even asked me to break my hands and I took that joke and ran with it.

    I have never had a problem with handling criticism in a “pinch of salt” kind of way, and it isn’t because I think everyone is stupid. The only criticism I have ever jumped on has been those people criticising me for the wrong reasons. I remember a post that twniehaus made about my TRON design.

    Twniehaus was abused as being a shit designer for designing it, and was told that “his” design had ripped off starwars. The guy hadn’t even seen the movie, and yet claimed an indepth understanding of its subject matter.

    That is when I give someone a go. I don’t do it simply because they don’t like my work, or I’d never have the time to produce anything new.

    I’d appreciate it if you took that all into consideration next time you want to claim that I think anyone that disagrees with me is stupid, because I truely find the criticism to be amusing and enjoyable.

  17. Bananaphone said,

    July 27, 2006 @ 8:47 pm

    “The vitriol of many of those against you, is enhanced by the fact that some misguided souls believe your a “genius” just because you are a c*cksucker.”

    Hahahaha… Yes, Di Vinci he was a cocksucker too, and I believe andy warhol dabbled in a bit of it.

  18. Steve said,

    July 27, 2006 @ 10:02 pm

    Bananaphone, you’ve left me unable to continue the conversation….

  19. Bananaphone said,

    July 27, 2006 @ 11:56 pm

    lighten up mate =)

  20. shirtflirt said,

    July 28, 2006 @ 7:03 am

    the design?

    well, it’s simple and technology is the opposite of simple. as it simplifies out lives, we are left feeling farther and farther from what is siimple: nature. the two fellas on the piece, look confused, sullen, downright beaten up by todays culture of fast cars and dead truth.
    the coloring seems to almost make them feel ethereal; something between a clouded dream and a dream of clouds.
    his designs always have text and this case is no difference. in this case, less is more is the rule and it works.

  21. ciani said,

    July 28, 2006 @ 8:38 am

    I really dislike Bananaphone’s designs… they turn me off because it seems as though they are blatantly looking for some sort of ‘elite following’, those who will understand the brilliance of them… well, I really don’t think there is any brilliance to them, I just think there is pretentiousness.

    But to each their own! :)

  22. Bananaphone said,

    July 28, 2006 @ 9:05 am

    I am not looking for an elite audience, but I am not looking to satisfy everyone either. I just design what I personally like and what I’m personally able to execute. As I said – I am not a good illustrator, I am just good at being a shit illustrator.

  23. Bree said,

    July 28, 2006 @ 12:46 pm

    Steve – Thanks for respecting my opinion. And yes, I’m not going to start disliking you just because we disagree. That would be silly. =)

    Bananaphone – You may think that you accept criticism, but from the point of view others, you clearly don’t act like it. You either mock the people who say something negative and just infuriate them more, or just disregard their opinions by saying they don’t understand the subject. I’ve never said anything that abrasive towards you yet you’ve called me a ‘dumb bitch’ and other such colorful names. I’ve pointed out that you think I’m dumb just for my opinions, yet you’ve retorted that it’s not my opinions… it’s that I’m just plain stupid. If I would have said great things about your designs as your ‘niche core of followers’ do, then you would have just ignored me or would have actually been nicer.

    Steve is right in saying: “his online personna may amuse some people, I’m sure it turns off many more people.” Yes, I’m turned off by the fact that a person who doesn’t even know me calls me ‘stupid’ because I unfavorably reviewed their art. I consider myself a nice person and fairly smart too, so it sort of hurts my feelings to be called immature names and told that I don’t know how to write. If Bananaphone would act a little more civilized, perhaps fewer people would vote zero because they’re so disgusted by the way he acts. You have to give respect to earn it, so more people would be more open-minded if he quit putting everyone else down.

    Anyway, that’s all I have to say on the subject. Bananphone will probably never change his behavior or show any remorse, so there’s no point in writing all of this anyway (he’ll find some other way to point out how stupid I am).

    Thank you again, Steve, for addressing my comments so professionally.

  24. seeker said,

    July 28, 2006 @ 4:08 pm

    Popular designer…..why?

    He is prolific…I’ll give him that, and how many of them have been printed?

    His style can be likened to a kindergatner with crayons, or a chimp throwing poo on a wall…I haven’t made up my mind.

    He is popular because he never shuts up. Ever. Anything that isn’t as “counter-culture” as his designs are too cute, or commercial, and the only designs that win are those that appeal to the stupid masses. Lord knows he has no problems with giving you his opinion and stating it as fact.

    He gets off on being so controversial and mean, and the veterans on the board flock to him and praise his art, and I’m at a complete loss. It will be a dark day if crap like “new technology” ever gets printed.

    Honetsly Steve? 5+would buy for some smatterings of colored rough doodles?

    I’m afraid the weight of your opinions has just ceased to be for me.

  25. Matt said,

    July 30, 2006 @ 11:16 pm

    Actually seeker I own over 40 threadless tees. I am probably also one of the LEAST critical of what threadless prints. Just because you would like something to be true doesn’t make it so.

    Bree, I just took your criticism with tact and yet you said I am wrong and kept going with it, doesn’t that make you what you are criticising? You are stupid not because you have opinions or because of what opinions are but because of how you express them. I had a hope that you’d improve with steve around. Obviously it is yet to have any real impact.

    As I have said before and no doubt will have to say again because of narrow minded people like yourself, I have fun with criticism. I don’t go off on everything that criticises me, who has the time! I even run with some of the criticism so people get a laugh out of it. Get over it already. It is a dead horse. And if you liked my work I wouldn’t think any different. Benny Breaks likes my work and kisses my ass at every opportunity – and I think the guy is pathetic. I’m not going to like someone just because they like me.

    “Yes, I’m turned off by the fact that a person who doesn’t even know me calls me ’stupid’ because I unfavorably reviewed their art. I consider myself a nice person and fairly smart too, so it sort of hurts my feelings to be called immature names and told that I don’t know how to write. ”

    If you are getting hurt feelings because someone that “doesn’t even know you” calls you “stupid” then you probably are stupid. If I know so little about you why care about my opinion. And I wouldn’t have had a problem with steve criticising my work either, he does it far more intelligently than you do. You criticise my stuff because its not the cute bunny flowery crap that you are used to submitting. Steve always gives solid reasons, even when he said that my designs are the reason he likes the 1.5 rule so he doesn’t have to see most of them – I still had a level of respect for his opinion, because unlike you, he could express it in a way that didn’t scream “teenager that likes cute things”.

    Trust me, I talk to steve on msn, we wouldn’t be doing that if I couldn’t handle criticism. He’s put a few zingers on my work in his time that is for sure.

  26. Mindrenew said,

    July 31, 2006 @ 5:28 am

    Steve, where are inPrint and preCycled? Instead of spending so much time on a terrible design like this one from banana, bring us a list of the best-of-the-best subs and prints.

    Seriously, this design is a $5? It looks like it was knocked out in 20 minutes. He’s done better but nearly all of his stuff is fantastic for a poster or a book, not a tee.

    Bring back the cycled :D

RSS feed for comments on this post