The Finalists for the Art of Manliness Put Up Your Dukes Contest: Vote for Your Favorite!

by Brett & Kate McKay on August 15, 2011 · 75 comments

in Blog

We’ve finished up judging the entries in our Art of Manliness pose contest, and boy, was it a good time! So many creative, funny, and of course, super manly entries. Who knew so many Art of Manliness readers already had such great mustaches, which were simply ready and waiting to be called up for action?

You can see all the entries here and here.

A big thanks to all of you who entered. There were so many awesome photographs, and we could tell many of you put a ton of work into them. I honestly wish I could award the prizes to everyone.

Choosing the finalists was extremely difficult. So much so that while we originally said we’d choose 5, we ended up making it 7. That’s a luckier number anyway, or at least it will be for the man who gets to take home a Saddleback Briefcase and one of everything in the Art of Manliness shop.

The finalists are:

Fire-Breathing EMT by James T. O’Neill III

This one cracked us up. Saving lives. Ironing. Making bacon. And breathing fire. Seems like James has all the aspects of being a man covered.

In Defense of Love by John Ryan Seaman

Don’t try to pick up John’s girl, or he’ll pop you in the face. And then offer you a freshly pressed handkerchief to dab your bloody nose.

Man vs. Self by Kyle Atkinson

Loved the creativity and profundity of this one. Kyle’s putting up his dukes not to fight an external threat but what he calls man’s real “worst enemy:” himself. Battling one’s inner weaknesses to become the best man you can be…now that’s the Art of Manliness.

Ready to Rumble by Alexander Nels Elofson

Man, just looking at this photograph will put some hair on your chest. No one messes with Alexander when he’s prowling the Five Points.

Stache by Zach Henderson

It’s hard to explain why we liked this one so much–but it kept rising to the top of our lists. Of course the composition is nice, but it’s really that Zach just looks like such a fun guy that one can’t help but feel happy after looking at the photograph.

Fisticuffs by Joshua O’Brien

This one gets points for best evoking the original pose by John L.Sullivan. Joshua’s caption: “They called him Yankee Sullivan in early days of fame.”

Day 4, Jaguar by Daniel Shearhouse

Daniel’s Caption:

That damnable Jameson assured me the march to the temple was but two days. I am beginning to suspect his motivations. Running low now on tobacco and bear jerky, but we have soothed our complaining guts somewhat with the Jaguar I slew this evening. I am sure he has been stalking us for days.

Lost my bag in the waterfall whilst saving Miss Hulasha from a gastly fate. I must do without for now, but I mean to procure a new one with my share of the bounty when we make it back. If we make it back, I mean. This wilderness seems the birthplace of peril and, despite her obvious prowess with a blade and her familiarity with our surroundings, Hulasha’s limpid eyes betray a nameless gloom.

I shall write no further until we have slaked our thirst for that brooding silhouette.

Vote for the Winner!

Theme and quality will obviously win over strangers, but the finalists’ ability to marshal their friends and family into voting for them will likely play a role as well. Voting ends on August 23, 2011 at 11:59 CDT.  You can vote once a day until the end, so vote early and vote often. Let the best man win!

{ 75 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Daniel Schurr August 15, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Great Photo. The true battle of a man.

2 Tom August 15, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Alex, your photo is by far the best. The others were good value, but not even in the same class.

3 Jack Donovan August 15, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Wow, there is some very decent (and elaborately staged) photography going on here.

4 Joel D August 15, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Man vs Self is the best, IMO. The others are quite good, but this is the only one that seems to have a real message about the nature of manliness.

5 Joshua William Keith August 15, 2011 at 10:52 pm


6 Jim August 16, 2011 at 1:38 am

Great depiction, esp. relevant for those of us working under the Jungian concept of “shadow.” Kudos to the artist who took this contest as a challenge for his brain, not just his hands. THAT is true manliness-thinking outside the box.

7 Nathan August 16, 2011 at 2:02 am

I have to agree with Tom. Alex, you have my vote. Very well done.

8 Evan August 16, 2011 at 2:10 am

Repost this if you think this should be an annual contest!!

PS, congrats to Alex, he should win definitely win.

9 Henry Kung August 16, 2011 at 3:28 am

Voted for Fire-breathing EMT. Sheer badassery.

10 Sean August 16, 2011 at 6:59 am

Seems like a bit of a runaway, sorry James!

11 Jan Gundtofte-Bruun August 16, 2011 at 7:16 am

I must vote for “In Defense of Love” by John Ryan Seaman, for although it is not the most striking photo, if you will pardon the pun, it does convince me as being realistic in the sense that it seems quite likely to really happen to a man of less tact than any of us here. Well done, chap, and what a lovely lady you have at your side.

“Day 4, Jaguar” by Daniel Shearhouse shows a man throwing himself at the task given and I have a lot of respect for that. Besides, both the photo and the accompanying journal extract is very well done. Kudos.

I really like the theme of “Man vs. Self” by Kyle Atkinson, but unfortunately it looks rather a lot like a “tribal tatoo desktop background”, and as such I am disinclined to vote for it.

12 uscroger August 16, 2011 at 7:54 am

I voted for Daniel Shearhouse due to the absurdity of the situation; apparently you have a jaguar, a man armed with a rifle, a chick with a torch and a few knives, and the man wants to fight the jaguar. Maybe man’s first instinct in such case, but not necessarily the most manly move.

13 Jenkins August 16, 2011 at 8:17 am

Didn’t Alex subit a ton of pictures? I thought that was against the rules, and am a little surprised to see it here despite the professional quality.

14 Evan M August 16, 2011 at 8:31 am

I was torn between Alexander and Daniel’s pics. On the one hand, Daniel’s is based on the Edwardian adventure tales I love. I had to give it to Alex though, that has to be the finest mustache I’ve ever seen. Combined with the hat, chops and pipe. Well done everyone!

15 Bruce Snyder August 16, 2011 at 8:39 am

I love the symbolism of man vs himself. Many times in my life, I’ve been my own worst enemy.

16 Ashlee August 16, 2011 at 8:55 am

That Alex guy submitted more than one photo. Not cool Brett. Not cool.

17 Joe August 16, 2011 at 9:09 am

I’m digging the hell out of that picture of Zach. It has my vote.

18 Sarah Griffith August 16, 2011 at 9:25 am

John Ryan Seaman’s picture is awesome! Who is that lovely lady with him?

19 mattoomba August 16, 2011 at 9:58 am

Torn between the two most unique shots: “Man vs Self” and “Day 4.” My appreciation of Indiana Jones, wry wit, and female torsos gave the nod to Day 4.

20 Elaine Russo August 16, 2011 at 10:02 am

I like John Ryan Seaman’s picture because it depicts chivalry! That little lady seemed to have total confidence in her man and he seems to be convinced that it’s his job to take care of her.

21 David Y August 16, 2011 at 10:16 am

Voted for Daniel in “Day 4″.

Going into the jungle searching for the temple and rescuing the beautiful Miss Hulasha from a ghastly fate is pretty darn manly. Jameson is in big trouble when they get back.

22 Karl August 16, 2011 at 10:22 am

All great pictures, it’s interesting to see the other entries too.

Alex got my vote… rough & tumble yet a gentleman. I think it speaks more for manliness as a whole where Kyle’s speaks to me personally.


23 jweaks August 16, 2011 at 10:30 am

Hear Hear!

Great stuff! Nicely done by all!

24 James Schipper August 16, 2011 at 11:54 am

Very nicely done by all! This is a tough choice. They are all outstanding for different reasons.

25 Jon Qualls August 16, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Jaguar was pretty good, simply for the fact of the sheer absurdity, which makes it quite manly, i mean, lost in the jungle, hunted by dangerous animals, epic quests, scantily clad maidens, BUT, Alexander’s is just plain and simple badassery. The pipe is what ties it all together, especially how the light hits the smoke pouring out of it.

26 Brad Lower August 16, 2011 at 12:31 pm

I have to give the nod to Alexander. Excellent production quality indeed but the splendid moustaches carried the day!

27 Speed Waggner August 16, 2011 at 12:42 pm

‘Man vs Self’ is by far the best, In my opinion. Introspection and fighting your demons head on, is a prerequisite of being a man in the first place. A very deep message, The rest of the pictures are just bravado!

28 Joseph August 16, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Alexander’s is the best!

29 Brett McKay August 16, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Yes, Alexander did submit more than one picture. We did not put the stipulation that people could not do so in the official rules. Someone asked in the comments to the announcement post about whether you could or not, and I said said it was one photo per person. But many submitted more than one entry because they did not read that comment (nor should they have been expected to). So we were stuck with either sticking with the one per person rule, or disqualifying those who made multiple entries because of a rule that was not in the post, and we chose the latter as it made more sense.

I made a mistake in making a pronouncement in the comments off handily. For which I apologize. We do our best with these things and will learn from our mistakes and promise to make things clearer next time.

30 chris August 16, 2011 at 2:23 pm

There are so many good entries that I can’t decide! Good job to everyone who entered the contest and may the best man win!

31 Avery August 16, 2011 at 2:56 pm

I love John Ryan Seaman’s photo! The look on his face is priceless! It screams, “Don’t mess with my girl!” It also captures the old fashioned charm of this web site. Although the photos with men by themselves are also great, the ones with ladies are a reminder that two are better than one, and that a man’s character can be enhanced and sharpened by having a lady at his side, as he is able to rise to the occasion to provide, protect, and share the adventure of life with his best friend.

32 Jennifer August 16, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I vote for John Ryan Seaman!

33 ted August 16, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Fire breathing man is the great
the rest are either hacky retro or overplayed sexism
And this from a person who enjoys both

34 Kay Phelps August 16, 2011 at 11:08 pm

Loved the name, Alexander Nels Elofson, and the picture that matches it. Seemed nostalgic of our ancestors. The tattoos are creepy and the pix with the girls were too staged. I like the humor of James O’Neill’s and the simplicity of Joshua O’Brien’s–but Alexander got my vote.

35 Steve August 16, 2011 at 11:55 pm


Your bad-assery knows no bounds. To be able to cook the manliest food alive in the manliest way possible deserves to win hands down. I grew a full blown mustache and a full chest of hair just seeing that picture. My vote is to you good sir. The rest are extremely cliche and unoriginal.

36 Andria Holbert August 17, 2011 at 12:09 am

I voted for John Ryan Seaman’s picture because you always want your man to fight for you no matter what—-to know I am worth fighting for.

37 BenG August 17, 2011 at 12:09 am

Had to go with Kyle. Transcends the genre–both fun and stirringly true. It’s the battle each of us have to fight every day. Hats off to all though! Great work.

38 ---Simon--- August 17, 2011 at 5:09 am

Cool pictures – Alex got my vote for sure.
I’ve never meet my greatgrandfather but I hope that is what he looked like.

39 Greg August 17, 2011 at 9:48 am

Awesome photos, guys – all of you. Well done!

40 Arnie Lawson August 17, 2011 at 11:45 am

Alex, your photo reminds me of the movie posters and stills of “The Gangs of New York”. The lighting is haunting. The staging is flawless. Well done!

41 David W August 17, 2011 at 11:48 am

These are so awesome. What a great contest! :)

42 Ed August 17, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Go John Ryan!

43 SB August 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm

These are just so awesome!! Good job, men.

44 APRIL CREDEUR August 17, 2011 at 1:54 pm


45 Anna August 17, 2011 at 3:13 pm

The photos are all wonderfully artistic, my vote went to Alexander Nels Elofson. I agree with the description under the photo, it seems like a photo from the movie, “Gangs of New York”.

Alexander looks Irish in that photo yet has a Danish sounding name. I live in Sweden and names in both countries are usually somewhat similar.

So my question is, is Alexander Nels Elofson a true Dane? Är du en riktigt danskman? ;-)

46 paul manogue August 17, 2011 at 3:13 pm


You get my vote for style, and that amazing mustache.

47 Floyd August 17, 2011 at 3:14 pm

All are great!! Had to go with Alexander, cool mustache

48 Chantal Melancon August 17, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Great Job to all!

49 dave munson August 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Now that’s a man.

50 Judy August 17, 2011 at 7:08 pm

I just want to say that Alexander gets my vote. He not only captures the pose, but he also has captured my fantasies for the next couple of nights. He is one very manly guy!

51 Rob August 18, 2011 at 7:07 am

impossible to decide a winner – they all deserve to win!

52 Ron Harrington August 18, 2011 at 10:44 am

You go Kyle!

53 Tyler Donaldson August 18, 2011 at 10:52 am

They are all great but this one is EPIC! The quality of photography demonstrated is excellent. Looks very realistic opposed to “photographed”.

54 Val Kinzey August 18, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Great picture! It’s good to see a gentleman protecting his dame!

55 Julie Wenzell August 18, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Hi, J.R., I wish you the very best. You look great! Way to go!!
Julie Wenzell

56 Harold August 18, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Alexander Nels Elofson has the pose, the lighting, the railroad tracks, the muscles, the bicycle-bar mustache, the hat, the pipe, and that 1920′s look. Hands down, the winner.

57 Ransom August 18, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Captured the AoM perfectly…

58 deemom August 18, 2011 at 11:19 pm


59 Ron Harrington August 19, 2011 at 6:23 am

Great concept !

60 Terry elofson August 19, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Great look!

61 james Oberg August 19, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Alexander is the best John L. Sullivan!

62 Johnny August 19, 2011 at 1:52 pm

The EMT cooking bacon with his dragon’s breath is pretty epic, but the best quality picture has to be Alexander Nels Elofson. Great lighing & location!

63 Eff Dogg August 19, 2011 at 2:06 pm

I wish to change my vote to Shearhouse based on a) the wit displayed in his caption and b) the fortitude inherent in his last name!

64 Casey Mehl August 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Yes sir, what a Great pose..You scared me!!!! I wouldn’t want to fight you!!!

65 A, Klapp August 19, 2011 at 5:04 pm

like this one!

66 cece cox August 19, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Great photo

67 Craig August 20, 2011 at 6:48 am

alexander – definitely the best one in my book!

68 Rick August 20, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Kyle rocks !!!!

69 Alexander Nels Elofson August 22, 2011 at 12:16 am

Wow, i am deeply moved by all of community here. All this support for everyone’s photos makes up for all my bad mustache days, helmet mustache, bed mustache, pointing and laughing on the streets i get… sometimes its not easy, but AOM is a true home for me. I must say to ALL the gents and dames who entered, outstanding! Everyone captured a unique angle and idea, and isn’t that what makes us men (and women)? Fantastic work, a tip of my hat to all!
And Anna, spot on! I’m half Swed, half Dane – best of both worlds and a viking at heart.
Cheers, ladies and gentlemen, thanks to all, and thanks to my brother and lighting crew for the photography. The photo shoot was truly a fun experience

70 Kent Goodier II August 22, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I just wanted to point out something curious. I noticed that Alexander Nels had a phenomenal photo taken and chosen as a finalist. None can certainly argue that it is a manly photo. However, I did notice that he also posted a picture before and after the one chosen. As a judge regarding the rules I would have thought that a call should have been made for the people that can not distinguish the difference in language between “a,” as in one, and “multiple.” I figured either multiple entries would mean either disqualification or any entry after the first should have been voided. Otherwise, I would have entered a few more pictures photoshopped with more gimmicks in mind…

71 Kyle Atkinson August 22, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Now that this outstanding competition is coming to a close I want to congratulate the other 6 contestants that entered. Everyone did an amazing job capturing some of the greatest qualities of manliness. I could not be happier that I was picked for the final round.

Thanks very much to Brett and Kate for putting on such an enjoyable contest and for finding my photo to be worthy of the final seven.

Double thanks to the community on here that voted and left such reassuring comments. I felt a bit nervous to put myself and my artwork out for public scrutiny. Seeing so many people understanding and appreciating the message in my photo and the others was truly exciting.

See you all in the next contest.

P.S… Daniel Shearhouse, you knocked it out of the park with your men’s adventure magazine-style photo and caption. Also, has anyone told you that you look like Robert Shaw?

72 Laura Mehl August 23, 2011 at 2:56 pm

You guys look awesome!

73 Anna August 24, 2011 at 2:39 am

While I congratulate the winner and all of the finalists, I must say that this has to have been the most unsporting contest I have witnessed in quite some time. From the get go it was obvious that there were going to be problems, what with the unclear and, in some cases, ridiculous rules.
There was no specification as to how many entries one could submit, which was later “added” in the comments section and subsequently ignored by Brett and many entrants. The voting process was set up in an unfair manner that did not seem to be interested in reflecting the choice of the AOM community, but only show who could get the most cyber “friends” to vote for them. Further adding to the haphazardness of this contest, instead of abiding by the officially stated rules, seven finalists were chosen instead of the originally stated five, lessening the chances of each contestant.

For future contests may I make a couple of suggestions?
1. Clearly state the rules from the beginning and don’t change them mid-contest.
2. Only allow one vote per person for the duration of the contest. I would also take it a step further and say that only existing registered members of AOM should be eligible to vote.

Specifically for this contest, I have to say that Alexander’s landslide win seems a bit strange. Now I’m not saying whether he did or did not deserve to win, that’s beside the point. What I am saying is that within an hour of the contest opening, he had enough votes to win the entire competition. Does that that not strike anyone else as being odd? Granted, he may have a huge family and hundreds of friends that were willing to vote for him everyday, who knows, though that seems improbable. This is not an attack on Alexander’s method or character, I think I’m mostly just curious as to how he could get that many votes so quickly and sustain such a huge lead. Was it just the mustache? It is very impressive.

74 Daniel Shearouse August 24, 2011 at 8:56 am

Thanks to Kyle for the great comments and congratulations to Alexander! Since I am apparently in 2nd place, I have a proposition to make. I am willing to reduce my prize to just a t-shirt if all of my fellow runners up receive one as well. It seems only right that we should all get some consolation and, since I won’t be getting that badass briefcase, I am happy with just a t-shirt. I hope Brett & Kate feel the same. Thanks again and best to all!

75 Brett McKay August 24, 2011 at 12:27 pm


No need for sour grapes. I’ve already apologized for not making the rules clearer. It was our first outing with the contest and it will surely be done better next time. But let’s keep some perspective–this is a photo contest on a blog for a leather briefcase and some books–not a presidential election!

And your not so subtle hints that Alexander perhaps did not win fairly are really out of order. I carefully monitored the voting and there was no cheating or anything suspicious going on whatsoever. If you look at the comments here and on Facebook and in the community, and the number of views and likes, Alexander was clearly the favorite and runaway winner. His landslide is not at all surprising.

That the winner was partly determined by whether the finalists could get their “cyber friends” to vote for them was intentional–we hoped the contest would be a way for folks to introduce their friends to AoM for the first time. Although in the end it was a moot point–as you point out the AoM community overwhelming chose Alexander as the winner from the get-go. His win is definitely a reflection of the preference of AoMers.

Your offer is most magnanimous. But you can still keep you prizes. We have already decided to offer a consolation prize not just to the finalists but to everyone who entered.

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