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Is Threadless frowned upon by the rest of art/design communites?

So lately I have been browsing through a lot of forums, mostly about art and design in general. Offline art and online art. Once in a while I would see Threadless name mentioned and from the replies, I got the impression that Threadless isn't particularly welcomed.


Once I saw a thread about a particular old thyme Threadless member (which is now inactive at Threadless) and saw people referring the artist as 'just another Threadless designer'. Or how the artist needs to shed off Threadless' name from the artist's history in order to make a name for him/herself.


I am referring to the designers here, and not about Threadless customer or Threadless products. Have I been hallucinating?

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ChrisDB

Sounds like people are upset that artists are getting paid to put their designs on a tee. They don't appreciate the tee as a legitimate medium for artistic expression. They figure art should only be hung on a wall or a pedestal or whatever. It's like threadless is pop radio and they expect all 'real art' to be on college radio. Sounds like art snobs to me.

fightstacy
fightstacy profile pic Alumni

There's a lot of prejudice towards us, I just ignore all of it, ..I'd rather hang out here

chuck p comics
chuck p comics profile pic Alumni

there is no other place that makes as good of shirts, so maybe this is a jealousy thing

radiomode
radiomode profile pic Alumni
1 design submitted -

Chris, it is actually more about how threadless designers = willing to design for close to nothing (other than hope)

chuck p comics
chuck p comics profile pic Alumni
radiomode said:

Chris, it is actually more about how threadless designers = willing to design for close to nothing (other than hope)

yeah this part kinda stinks

melmike
melmike profile pic Alumni

Definitely sounds like snobbery to me. You probably made more $ last year than 90% of 'fine artists' did in the last 10 from their work. They probably think that makes you a sell out.

To these types, real artists are self-reflective, long-suffering junkies who'd die before making something that any of the 'normals' would actually want to hang on their walls.

I mean, Threadless prints 0.01% of everything that goes up to score. Just to land a print is a huge achievement. Consider Etsy, where anyone with an email address and 20 cents can post their art. There are artists selling on there who've sold close to 50,000 prints on that site alone. These snobs would definitely look down their noses at those artists and designers too.

littlem

This is an interesting topic. I'm curious what their reasoning is for such a negative attitude toward the threadless association. And why does it matter to them if artists want to spend their time designing for threadless?

Are you able to let us know what sites these discussions have taken

PeculiarTiffany
PeculiarTiffany profile pic Alumni
1 design submitted -

I really see Threadless as a place to hang out, make some cool art and learn. I understand it's the way many people make a living, but people take art way too seriously.

littlem

Oops, itchy trigger finger! ...taken place?

radiomode
radiomode profile pic Alumni
1 design submitted -
melmike said:

Definitely sounds like snobbery to me. You probably made more $ last year than 90% of 'fine artists' did in the last 10 from their work. They probably think that makes you a sell out.

To these types, real artists are self-reflective, long-suffering junkies who'd die before making something that any of the 'normals' would actually want to hang on their walls.

I mean, Threadless prints 0.01% of everything that goes up to score. Just to land a print is a huge achievement. Consider Etsy, where anyone with an email address and 20 cents can post their art. There are artists selling on there who've sold close to 50,000 prints on that site alone. These snobs would definitely look down their noses at those artists and designers too.

The logic is by putting design on Etsy, the fate of your design is determined by you alone. By putting your design on Threadless, the fate of your design is decided by other. It is like who-needs-it-more story. If you are seller, then you desperately approach buyer, the buyer will have final say about the prices. If you are the buyer, then you desperately approach the seller, the seller most likely determines the ultimate price.

In this case the designer is the seller. Threadless (or any other clients) are the buyer. Since the designer initiate the process, it makes the designer some sort of bargain-able.

If this transaction happens with email, in privacy between the seller and buyer, seller can still maintain his/her image. However, since Threadless is open for everyone to see 'how bargain-able' you are, this affects the image or the designer profoundly.

That's the conclusion I draw from the forum discussion.

ChrisDB
radiomode said:

Chris, it is actually more about how threadless designers = willing to design for close to nothing (other than hope)

Ohhhh. Well that sounds like they think that threadless is being unfair to the artists. But the part where you mentioned them thinking the ThreadArtist needed to shed their 'Threadlessyness,' that seems like they're more against Threadless than thinking about the artist's best interest.

radiomode
radiomode profile pic Alumni
1 design submitted -
littlem said:

This is an interesting topic. I'm curious what their reasoning is for such a negative attitude toward the threadless association. And why does it matter to them if artists want to spend their time designing for threadless?

Are you able to let us know what sites these discussions have taken

I can't really remember the website. The website is about art/design prints. This is such a long time ago, and I have this questions in my mind for quite a while. I rarely visited other art/design forums until recently when I started selling prints through Society6.

alexmdc
alexmdc profile pic Staff
1 design submitted -

Im not sure how my opinion is viewed since I now work at Threadless, but I want to comment this based on my experience even before that.

Making art for Threadless never felt like making art for Threadless, more so making art for myself. Threadless never held it against anyone if they sold their work elsewhere if it didn't print, I myself have and still do sell art to other places when it's not printed here.

It's like creating art for a gallery show and it never sells, did the artist create it for hope? for money? for themselves?

I see Threadless not as a place where the artists needs to be printed to make a name for themselves, but more so a tool to make it that much easier. There are artists that get lost within a certain site trying to accomplish a goal and forget the reason why they're here. I myself have, tons of times, when I submit so much and got nothing back. Only to realize after looking back how just being able to surround myself with so much talent and creating so much how it helped me grow and continue to grow as an artist.

That being said I still continue to submit and score mainly because I fee like Im constantly learning and being inspired by all the great artist, and also it's priceless the people and friends I have met through here.

I think some people say negative stuff about threadless mainly because they see Threadless for something that it's not, without experiencing it themselves, maybe they tried and didn't get a print without looking at the bigger picture. They created something for someone without getting anything in return, but didnt stick around long enough to realize that wasn't the case.

ChrisDB

I wish I couldda say all that profound goodness like Alex just did. But it's 2am and I ate way too much curry goat! lol.

littlem

That was really nice, hijo. *mwah

melmike
melmike profile pic Alumni

right on Alex, right on.

lxromero
lxromero profile pic Staff

What alex said.

radiomode
radiomode profile pic Alumni
1 design submitted -
alexmdc said:

Making art for Threadless never felt like making art for Threadless, more so making art for myself. Threadless never held it against anyone if they sold their work elsewhere if it didn't print, I myself have and still do sell art to other places when it's not printed here.

It's like creating art for a gallery show and it never sells, did the artist create it for hope? for money? for themselves?

Once in a while I would get email asking about Threadless and I would give exactly the same answer: use Threadless to develop your design, rather than chasing the cash or else you would likely be disappointed. I myself feel the benefit of growing and expending my design because of Threadless. I would probably stuck making crappy designs, without even realizing how crappy they were, if I had never known Threadless.

However I myself think I would be a hypocrite to say that money has nothing to do with it, since without cash incentive I would probably have no interest to find out about Threadless in the first place.

Now the question here is not whether you (or any other artists), who has benefited directly or indirectly from Threadless, feels about Threadless. Rather, the question is how others perceive Threadless.

Remember that time when everyone believe earth is flat? If most people believe Threadless as bad, then it can be the truth even though it is not the fact.

Jake Friedman
2 designs submitted - Score now!

I think Alex gets to a really good point towards the end of his comment. Threadless doesn't have that immediate sense of gratification and acceptance other sites can offer. Granted, I don't submit my drawings and things elsewhere- but working hard on a sub, waiting around 10 days for the design to finish scoring, then seeing a score that is probably lower than expected can just plain suck. And even if you've made a great design that scores well, you still may not get printed. The whole process can be stressful if one doesn't approach it the right way.

alexmdc
alexmdc profile pic Staff
1 design submitted -

I only hear negative feedback tbh is from a lot of the partnership challenges, or from people that have actually been on threadless and submitted without accomplishing their goals, aside from that I spoke with tons of artists that didn't know exactly how threadless worked so didn't really have judgement, or like I said had a bad experience and based it on that.

Would be nice to hear those opinions of the ones that think negative of it and why.

melmike
melmike profile pic Alumni

I understand people thinking the partnership challenges are more like spec work, but that argument just doesn't hold water with the regular challenge at all, and besides, the way I look at it, how else am I going to get to work with those characters as anything more than fan art? I do those coz I want to. They're also great for taking you out of your comfort zone. Aside from that, the competition part of it is perfect for forcing ongoing improvement, because, if you think about it, everything you make is critiqued and judged by hundreds of people.

That's how I feel, and that's not even taking into account the people you meet.

melmike
melmike profile pic Alumni

And I've never met anyone who has anything negative to say about the site as a concept, so I can't weigh in on why they might perceive it as anything other to what I described.

soloyo
soloyo profile pic Alumni

Haters gonna Hate

EZFL
EZFL profile pic Alumni

Making art for Threadless never felt like making art for Threadless, more so making art for myself.

Exactly how I see it.

BlancaJP
BlancaJP profile pic Alumni

interesting subject - great stuff all ready said.

It would be nice to hear the details on how and why the negative views come from.

The view on what Threadless is, is different for sure on first look and I think it takes willingness to learn and see how things work to really get in to it. I tried coming in with an open mind but I still at first had the more distant - design for money view - and I've grown to love the place for the people and the way the challenges and other interaction makes me grow as an artist. It gives me the all important reason to keep doing art.

I would also love to hear what sort of artist do you all see your selves to be ?

I have always wanted to be a commercial artist. I went to school to become an animator (the hand drawn stuff) but learned illustration instead. So I actually love the partnered challenges because it gives me a door to do big company stuff for real, not fan art, never was in to that. So I'm not really sure why the hate towards them - well I know but ... yeah just a different stand point on art and why make it.

Even in illustration I feel there are different schools or communities of artist and they all view why and how to do art or what is good art and so fort differently. Fine artist, Designers, Illustrators, and even in illustration there are the people that do mostly concept art stuff, childrens books style, manga , comic book, the more realistic styles vs the more vector styles. So many ways to go about it and so many uses for the illustrations made. I have always had this feeling that all these different styles have their own clicks and not everyone gets along.

I love most styles and feel that all styles can be made with great skill and love and they are fantastic when used in the right place. I admire lots of styles, even the ones I might not personally like so much, but if it is well made, I admire the skill in it that I might not have.

So long story short some of the hate I think might come from this difference of style and lack of appreciation of other styles. Also the never ending war with art for art VS art for money and all the messy implications of it.

So does art have it's own set of classes, like the working class, the nobles and so on ? and the same class war that is in society be mirrored in art ?

goliath72
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I agree with a lot of people hear. Coming from a person that's not an artist threadless has give. Me the opportunity to work with great artist who have brought my ideas to life. The community has been so supportive to the like of FA, Soloyo, Rossmat and myself through collabs. My first print was actually a slogan I made and when that started fading out I continues supporting the great art here. The started getting the chance to work work artist. I feel that threadless isn't a cut throat place people are willing to assist you with Input and advice about your art. The threadless community is more then just print and art it's about friendship and fun! I don't feel the other sites have provided that and I've enjoyed my time on threadless and the people here. Made a lot of friends and I am thankful to threadless!!

alternik

Very well said, goliath72 and others! Threadless being open to all harbors so many individuals that're passionate about art but not from an art background (academic or professionally) and probably have day jobs that have no relation with art as such (my case). But this place let's everyone explore themselves and grow as 'artists', by exposing themselves to so much creativity and highly supportive folks (Kudos!!)...and so after a point, the difference blurs, and it doesn't even matter! ;) May be that could have led to a negative perception/blatant generalization/irrational bias that everyone out here is an amateur. Just a thought. None the less, as soloyo said, haters gonna hate, who cares?! :)

sebastianblonde

I think that the artist community that radiomode referred to, tends to be more focused on art itself as a medium of self-expression than as a product, specially non-professional artists who don't need / wish to improve nor sell they artwork. In my opinion they tend to think that selling art as a product is something "bad". Just different strokes I guess.

My case is that before joining threadless I found myself doing designs, characters and drawings just for myself, not knowing what to do with them. I heard of the pros and cons to be here, most of them being that of crowd-sourcing, but the fact is that I like the opportunity to improve my skills, surround myself with talented and helpful people and maybe get the chance to cash out my ideas! I'm even starting to meet people and making friends!

nikoby
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Threadless has challenged me as an artist; I've learned more about Photoshop and Illustrator just from trying to solve problems with the limit of color and space. It has also challenged my creative thought processes, because sub par ideas don't cut it. Because of this, I know the value that Threadless has added to my art career. I could have gained this valuable insight elsewhere. But I didn't, I chose Threadless. People have different tastes, and Threadless is my taste.

I think BlancaJP hit the target, there are cliques in every artist community (Including Threadless), and there are always others bashing something they are unfamiliar with and haven't taken the time to get to know. So I wouldn't worry about them. People are always talking; it makes them feel better about themselves when they can put something else down to lift up their own egos. There is a LOT of ego in the art community.

My personal philosophy is to encourage others, no matter their skill level or where they come from.

lxromero
lxromero profile pic Staff

As someone who is surrounded all the time by advertising artists, graphic designers, and art directors, I can tell you that Threadless is looked upon as a really good and cool thing by us. I believe a lot of that has to do with the fact that we are all the types of artists used to spec work and having to deal with specific requirements from clients so that makes a lot of sense. Not everyone seems to understand the Threadless model but they all respect the artwork.

ArTrOcItY
ArTrOcItY profile pic Alumni

I had lot of clients contact me because they saw my work on threadless so all the work I put here make my portfolio in the end and lot people can see it since threadless is such a popular site so I don't look at it as ''designing for close to nothing (other than hope)'' but I look at it as an opportunity to show my work to a large audience; something that would be a lot harder if it wasn't for threadless because I really really suck at promoting so threadless is a great platform to show your art and place to really grow as a designer imho.

louisroskosch
louisroskosch profile pic Alumni

i think those guys just don;t understand the mindset. if they are freelance illustrators who are used to getting paid gigs and are fairly secure or whatever, then threadless or other tee shirt sites probably seems like the artist is not putting themselves in a good position. working for free or wasting art or whatever. the only way i can really agree is on those big company competitions. i can see how they benefit threadless tho, but its not for me.

i personally prefer following the t shirt route.. gives me more of a thrill and i feel like i am more in control, if less secure. the last big illustration job i had to do was a very bad experience. a board of morons type deal.. the money was nice and the work i did even was kinda nice but i got no satisfaction out of it.

Thomas Orrow
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5 designs submitted - Score now!

I was going to put something here, but I don't want people to think I hate Threadless. It's still my favourite website.

I think people only complain about the site because they feel passionate about it. Anywhere that you have spent time or engergy on will be important to you.

The only other people who might complain about it could be successful artists who don't need to enter competitions. They would argue that making a Lion King design was speculative work and against their ethics because they wouldn't be able to sell it anywhere. Essentially working for free is a no-no for many designers.

Of course there is the chance to get out there and Threadless is a great platform with potential rewards but not every artist turns out to be the new radiomode.

melmike
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Thomas Orrow said:

I was going to put something here, but I don't want people to think I hate Threadless. It's still my favourite website.

I think people only complain about the site because they feel passionate about it. Anywhere that you have spent time or engergy on will be important to you.

The only other people who might complain about it could be successful artists who don't need to enter competitions. They would argue that making a Lion King design was speculative work and against their ethics because they wouldn't be able to sell it anywhere. Essentially working for free is a no-no for many designers.

Of course there is the chance to get out there and Threadless is a great platform with potential rewards but not every artist turns out to be the new radiomode.

I agree something like the Lion King it probably falls into the spec work category, but the problem I have with the argument that that's a bad thing in this case is it's purely ideological/theoretical. In the real world, even super established illustrators would probably never have the chance to legitimately do a Lion King design, let alone one where they have the level of creative freedom that you get in these challenges, because even if Disney did single you out of all the illustrators in the whole world to do some paid Lion King work, you'd be doing exactly what they told you to do, probably in the style their own, 'Disney' style.

So it's really nothing like the kind of spec work where someone says, I need a logo for my car wash and gets designers to fight for it.

radiomode
radiomode profile pic Alumni
1 design submitted -
BlancaJP said:

It would be nice to hear the details on how and why the negative views come from.

I would also love to hear what sort of artist do you all see your selves to be ?

I think this is true. The forum I am looking at were art forum, with paintings and all. Maybe this only applies to non-commercial artist.

sweet n sour
sweet n sour profile pic Alumni

I think threadless may be looked down upon because it's like chart pop, it tries to appeal to the biggest audience possible which I think makes it hard for its artists to be challenging and progressive with their work, and that means threadless art is more often than not middle of the road and people who are in to art don't usually like middle of the road type stuff in the same way that people who are in to music don't usually like chart pop.

[+duracell-]

^that and they havent adjusted the payout in like.. what.. 10 years? Totally ignoring inflation. Having said that, I still like threadless the best. Making 'middle of the road' type stuff is more challenging (because of limitations) anyway imo.

Morkki
Morkki profile pic Alumni

I don't hang out in other art related communities so I wouldn't know if there's really any widespread hate towards Threadless. Once in a while I come across some very vocal individuals whose opinions are either "crowdsourcing is bad" or "Threadless only prints talking sandwiches for kids".

Anyway, making art for other artists to admire is not any better than making art for a wider audience. Nothing wrong with it either, just don't be an elitist douche about it.

louisroskosch
louisroskosch profile pic Alumni

melmike: arn't those ones where they usually reject anything that is off model?

olie!
olie! profile pic Alumni

I'm with melmike in that I've never personally perceived anyone as looking down on Threadless on other art forums or communities. If anything it's the opposite—they have a lot of respect for the designers here.

Either way, I think EVERY art community (and really every community ever whether art-related or not) is going to have its fair share of snobs. That's just people.

moosabman
moosabman profile pic Alumni

I have been around non threadless artists/designers and they usually either love or hate it. From my experience, the haters either believe it is another spec work site which is no good for the industry or the individual designers however I agree with Alex that is more about making stuff for yourself and if Threadless wants to print it EVEN BETTER! This is why I don't participate in the sponsored challenges, because then it would be for the sponsor, not myself. Also I think most those haters have that view because they probable submitted "TWO AMAZING DESIGNS I MADE THEY ARE SO GOOD" and they probably got crappy scores for being unexperienced, and said,"See...its BS for people trying to do spec work, my stuff is amazing, threadless is dumb."

Doesn't really concern me though. I know first hand how beneficial being in this community has been for my work. The format forces you to improve, or die trying. Having a purpose to work towards has been way more motivating to keep working compared to, "eh I'll just make something today because I want to."

sweet n sour
sweet n sour profile pic Alumni

I'd be interested to know who the old time threadless member was and what sort of art the forum discussing him or her focuses on?

skaw
skaw profile pic Staff

Great discussion and thanks for sharing all your thoughts. Processing.......

lxromero
lxromero profile pic Staff
sweet n sour said:

I think threadless may be looked down upon because it's like chart pop, it tries to appeal to the biggest audience possible which I think makes it hard for its artists to be challenging and progressive with their work, and that means threadless art is more often than not middle of the road and people who are in to art don't usually like middle of the road type stuff in the same way that people who are in to music don't usually like chart pop.

I agree that there is a degree of "Threadless design" in the way things are done by artists around here, after all the idea here is to create a product that will sell because in the end, its a business. However I have seen a fair number of artists step out of the comfort of putting cute things in pockets and drawing cats and do some legitimately cool weird stuff that may not appeal to the lowest common denominator but makes some cool art. It may not print or sell through Threadless but it originated from the Threadless mindset if that makes any sort of sense. I do see lots of people use this as a way to build up their work and improve on their art and I think a community that actively encourages the idea that anyone can be an artist and make something cool is an oasis in the mire of all the crap that one has to deal with as a contract artist.

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