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Take A Peek At Threadless Beta!

by skaw / founder /

^ design by ArmoredFowl

After about a year and a half of sweat, tears, HTML & CMYK, we’re so excited to unveil the newest version of Threadless! It's been a long time coming and there’s still a lot to do, but we're finally in a place where we let all of you play with the brand new version of Threadless.

Check it out here:

Keep in mind, it's running on live data, so if you post in the forum there, it'll show up on the current Threadless as well! You can even shop on beta.

There is so much newness to talk about. First of all, the site is bolder and brighter overall. When coupled with all of the amazing designs, it brings what Threadless is like on the inside to the outside. The navigation being MAKE, PICK, PLAY, SHOP is a nod at how Threadless works. It explains the process while also being descriptive and functional actions. First you make the designs, then you help us pick which ones to produce, play along the way, and shop for the products that get made. The MAKE section is way more detailed, making it much easier to figure out how to succeed as an artist on Threadless. The PICK section is mostly about scoring designs and takes a cue from Atrium. The forum and other fun stuff (like the new Artist stories section) is in the PLAY section. The SHOP section is redesigned to better showcase the wide away of product types we now carry.

As for the submission/scoring process - this is all new in Beta, based loosely on the system that was built for Atrium. The new and old system don't overlap so you won't be able to score existing submissions on Beta. However, we're hosting two challenges on there for testing… the beta challenge for screwing around and testing things and the special "taking leaps" challenge to actually submit real designs. When this site goes live, Atrium will be shut down (all design challenges will run on and all of the old Threadless submissions will be visible on the new site.

We're almost there! Huge props to everyone in the Art & Tech departments at Threadless who poured their blood and sweat into this project. A special nod to Sean Donohue who took the initiative over a weekend a year ago to set aside all preconceived notions and rethink the way should look/work.

Give it a try, submit designs, score designs, try the forum… dig in! This is the first step in an ongoing effort to constantly be improving the site. We've got a ton of new things lined up that we're excited to dig into once we get the new site live.

Here's a list of a few of the many things we're still plugging away at before we launch: - Home page sliders - Cross-browser testing - Speed, speed, speed! - Bugs, bugs, bugs. - Hooking up Threadspotting & Artist Stories to content - Moving a lot of things a pixel here, a pixel there - Sliding submissions powerscore-style when scoring (like Atrium also) - Lots of backend stuff - A special 404 page :) - Submission kit page

There are also a whole slew of new features we're going to get working on as soon as we get this new site launched like a new critique section, following other users, earning badges, more scoring improvements, a new Threadbucks program, and vanity URLs. This is just the beginning!

We're Removing 40,000 T-Shirts From Our Inventory Today

by skaw / founder /

Late last year we discovered that one of our suppliers was manufacturing blank t-shirts that were not up to our standards. We immediately stopped printing on those garments and ramped up our production on a much higher quality blank tee.

We have been working to figure out what to do with the affected inventory (it had been placed in our clearance section). Yesterday we discovered there are 40,000 affected units in our current inventory. Today we have made the decision to completely pull those down off our site and out of our warehouse.

Going forward, rest assured that creating a high quality product is a top priority for us. You only deserve the best! In addition to the better blank we are currently printing on, we are also working to produce a Threadless custom tee with our own fabric weight and cut specifications as well as a rigorous quality control process. Expect more news on that in the coming months.

If you've had issues with our t-shirt quality in the past and are skeptical about giving us another try, we'd love to prove it to you by involving you in the development of our custom tee. The first 5,000 people to sign up here will receive one for free when it's time to share.

Let's Make A Tribute To Steve Jobs

by skaw / founder /

This image above is what got me interested in making art & code with computers. I was in 7th grade in the early 90's and lucky enough to have a few Macs in our school library. I started playing with HyperCard, creating interactive stories that you could click through. Choose your own adventure style :) ... I was hooked. I spent many long afternoons after school in the library, not wanting to go home. Soon I figured out how to make web pages, went to art school, started connecting with other like-minded creatives on the Internet, started Threadless, etc.

Steve has changed so many of our lives. If your life was impacted by him, please share your story here. Or make something in tribute and post it up.


Never Stop Making

by skaw / founder /

Update: Here's the video!


^ tl;dr, stop here and just go make something :)

Last week I had the opportunity to speak at TEDxBoulder in front of 1,700 people! TED talks are all about "ideas worth spreading." I've given many talks over the years about Threadless but they are usually just telling the Threadless story. I approached this talk by challenging myself to share a more relatable idea that my experience in starting and running Threadless has helped me develop over the years. Something that we can all use in our lives. I'd like to share it with you all here.


It's been 11 years now since starting Threadless. It began as a hobby. I was attending art school and I just wanted to make cool things together with my friends. I started a thread on an art forum that I participated on asking for people to post some ideas for t-shirt designs and I'd print the best ones. For the first two years I didn't take a penny for myself, every dollar was spent on printing more shirts. The next two years Threadless graduated from hobby to side project for a small web consultancy I started called skinnyCorp. Finally after those four years in, it became our real business, what we did every day. "Making cool things together with friends" is still what Threadless does today. The group of friends is a bit bigger with millions of people involved in some way and over a hundred thousand artists having submitted designs, but the spirit remains. Threadless exists as a place for artists and designers who make things to have a productive way to show and benefit from those things. We make products from their art and distribute them to the world.


Jeff Howe, the guy who coined the term "crowdsourcing," wrote an amazing piece in our book last year. He wrote about following Warped Tour one year, how he witnessed all these creative kids making tattoos, poetry, videos, music, etc. But they weren't doing it because they wanted to be filmmakers or poets. And they weren't doing it to make money. The way Jeff puts it is because "making stuff is the most joyful occupation in which we ever engage. It's the closest we come to God." This really struck me. I believe that we all have a need to create.


Being mostly self-taught myself, I find great value in learning how to do something on your own. Don't get me wrong, sometimes you need to ask for help or go to a class to learn something. But I love the discovery process of learning, it gives you your own point of view about a subject. I learned HTML by clicking view->source in a web browser and reading it line by line. I learned Photoshop by clicking every button in the program until I figured out what it does. I learned how to build a tree fort by nailing a board into a tree, standing on that board and nailing the next one in. There is so much value to be had in figuring something out on your own. It teaches you to have confidence when you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation. You must rely on your own, new ideas. You learn to be innovative.


When you don't know how to do something, so long as you have the confidence to try, that's when you're the most creative & innovative. Be good at something, comfortable with it, but realize that when you are doing something that you're an expert at, something you've already mastered, you aren't really adding anything new to the world. That was a lot of commas. So uncomfortable. Step outside of your comfort zone and approach a situation with fresh eyes. Offer a new perspective. You'll either learn something new or you'll teach someone else a new way of thinking about things!


Make something and put it out into the world. It's impossible to predict what will happen, what you'll learn, how people will react, how it could snowball out of control. One thing's for sure, more will happen than if you do nothing. My hobby turned into what I've done for a living for over a decade. It turned into a multi-million dollar business that supports artists all around the world. That was certainly unintended. Thousands of years ago we divided our lives into "work" and "play" and I'm here to say that it doesn't have to be like that. But let it happen organically. The best, most fun things to work on were results of the Joy of Creation. At first you're just having fun with no real purpose. You want to learn to cook. The next thing you know you own a restaurant or you're making a killing selling bread on the internet.


Do it for yourself. Scratch the itch. Give yourself a creative release from your work, your wife, your kids. Have something in your life that you do and do well, that you're proud of. And you do it simply because it's something you are craving to do with your life. In today's culture it's far too easy to just become a passive viewer of the world. It's up to you to define your legacy. When your children ask what kind of people their parents were, you don't want them to say "he was really good at watching funny youtube videos." This weird state of our culture is exactly why we need to make stuff more than ever.


The other day I went out in my backyard in Chicago and built an outdoor fire pit from brick and mortar. It may have been illegal. That was my first time mortaring anything and it turned out quite ugly. But it got the job done, I learned something (don't use too much water), and best of all, I built something with my bare hands. It felt good. I made that fire pit! And now I cook marshmallows over it with my wife and kids. Every once in a while you just need to build something. Stretch your own canvas and paint on it. Dig a hole in the ground. Or, one of my favorites, go camping without a tent and build your own shelter :) It reminds you what we're here for.


You have ideas you want to bring to life, I'm sure! Maybe you've had them for years. A lot of times they are so big that they are overwhelming. You think you'll never do it and you never start. Well, start small. You don't need to know the master plan for the great american novel or the next Facebook or mona lisa before you being. Simply start sketching it out a bit, write out how it would work, build a prototype. The simple, physical act of touching a pen to a piece of paper is so powerful. I also find that this is the best way to stop a bad idea from haunting you. As soon as you start to see it's physical representation as a doodle, just give it it's moment - it'll show you right away that it may not work. Also, try doing this when your 'supposed' to be doing something else. Try it at work.


This is something that a lot of artists do within the Threadless community. It's a fantastic challenge to give yourself. Commit to making something. Every. Single. Day. I'm trying to do this with my wife and kids. We skip a day here and there but the goal is to actually do a project, no matter how small, every day. It can (should) be silly! One of the things we want to do is build a visitor center for this mysterious "shoe corner" in our home town. It's a corner in the middle of a bunch of corn fields where shoes just appear on the side of the road. Every week they have to clean it up and ever week more shoes appear. We'll make up a story for why and celebrate it with the visitor center.


This is so important! Don't forget the power of collaboration. If you're an entrepreneur looking for a co-founder, a musician who wants to start a band, a writer looking for an illustrator, whatever the case may be, here's my suggestion to you. Make friends. Then make things with your friends. I first met my co-founder by getting into weird, experimental javascript battles with him on an artsy-fartsy forum on the internet. He figured out how to make the whole browser window move with some code. So I made it move in a circle. Then he made it move in a star shape. Then we started Threadless! You may think you're just goofing around. And maybe you are, but embrace it. That's how great things begin!


Watch less TV. Always have a project. I don't know about you but once I get going on something, I can't put it down. Making things is the best fuel there is for making more things. Get into that cycle. Any waking moment you have, try to use that precious time to create something!


The internet is so empowering for people who make things. They no longer just collect dust in the basement. They live on in ones and zeros. At the very least, take a picture of it and post it up. Tumblr, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram, Facebook, wherever! Just let people see and react to what you've made. Maybe they will make it better, get inspired, who knows. Take it a step further by using services like Etsy to sell your crafts. Or set up shop on Foodzie. Post your design to Threadless! As powerful as simply making something is, it's that much more powerful when you let the world have it.


Basically, making things is the best medicine there is for anyone feeling stagnant, lost, in a rut, caught in a routine, too comfortable, whatever it is. Grow and learn by making stuff. It could be the beginning of something amazing.

Many thanks to everyone who contributed "Make" drawings to this thread. It had the unintended consequence of helping me put together this presentation!

Top photo by Rocky Mountain Joe

Congrats To Harper, Our Former Cto!!!

by skaw / founder /

Have you heard the news?

Harper Reed, our former CTO, just signed on as the CTO of Obama for America!

Here's a great article from the Chicago Tribune.

Harper building stuff with wires Harper back in '05 working on Threadless computers.

There's no one else like (or as amazing as) Harper. His friendly, excitable demeanor compliments his massive, tinkering brain in a way that is impossible not to love. He's in his own class! We're super excited that he has joined the Obama campaign and can't wait to see what crazy technological innovations they come up with as the campaign progresses.


Join In Threadless Causes

by skaw / founder /

Threadless Causes

We're using the power of community-based design to call attention to the good guys: non-profits, world-changing organizations, and important social movements. We need you, the world's designers and thinkers, to submit tee designs and wear those designs proudly. Call us nutsos, but we believe the world can change one t-shirt at a time!

Threadless Causes is! There are two design challenges you can be involved with:

The first is with the Demi and Ashton Foundation which exists to to raise awareness about child sex slavery, change the cultural stereotypes that facilitate the horrific problem, and support survivors. The challenge is to create a tee around the theme of freedom. Learn more...

The second is with the Oceanic Preservation Society which creates film, photography, and media inspiring people to save the oceans. OPS's first film, The Cove, won dozens of awards around the world, including the Oscar® for Best Documentary in 2009. Their next documentary, Singing Planet will inspire a movement to save the most endangered species. The challenge is to create tee around the theme of listening to our planet. Learn more...

Check it out, get involved, help us do some good :)

Timely Designs About Current Events.

by skaw / founder /

Looks like we're going to fast track another design this week due to the fact that this Wednesday is National Opt-Out day in the US due to the body scanners the TSA is using and David Vincent Wolf submitted a pretty amazing, clever design, "Land of the Free?" that is a great commentary on the whole situation.

It's only happened once before where we released a design for sale before it even finished scoring. "Three Keyboard Cat Moon!" And I'm sure a lot of us remember the bit of drama that caused. But we have done a lot of printing up designs really quickly after they finished scoring if they are timely. Recently, "House Brawl" is a good example of that. Both those designs and others like them have sold amazingly well and were pretty timely to different things happening in the world. We've also had others that we released too late like "What Did I Ever Do to You" about when NASA bombed the moon looking for water.

I know this has been a somewhat controversial move in the past. But I think it makes sense for us to do this. Everyone likes to get a nice fair shake of 7 days of scoring, but for exceptional circumstances like these really timely, strong designs, I think the buzz that comes up around them is enough for us to know to print them and it makes sense to make an early decision. In the same way that subs can get dropped early from the running because we know right away they won't do well - I think there's a case to print early too!

I'd love to hear your thoughts/concerns on this. And, actually, personally I'd love to see even more designs that are commentaries on current events. It'd be hilarious if lots of people wear "Land of the Free?" while going through security lines.

Today I'Ll Be On Fearless Tv!

by skaw / founder /

Just in case you're interested...

At Noon MT I'll be talking with Alex Bogusky for an hour on his weekly live show, FearLess Revolution! Tune in live here or if you miss it, it will be posted up here afterwards. If you have a question, you can tweet @FearlessForce and we'll try to get to it on the show.

We're going to be talking about a new thing we're working on called Threadless Causes. It's still a work in progress but we're hoping to get it launched super soon!

Also, check out this painting that they made of Alex and I for the show :) (I'll try to post up a better picture of it in a bit.)


Designs From The 101010 Challenge Already Being Chosen For Print!

by skaw / founder /

By now you're all probably aware that the 101010 design challenge is running right now and going strong. We're giving out $30,000 - $10k to 3 designers in 3 separate categories.

BUT, did you know we will be printing way more than just 3 designs??? In fact, designs have already started finishing scoring and we've already started picking some for print. And, they will be available for sale in a few weeks. We wanted to have as many of these amazing designs available in time for the holiday rush as we could. As outlined on the challenge page, we will be printing a lot of the designs that come through the challenge and then awarding the 3 big $10,000 winners in January. If your design is chosen for print early, it is still eligible to get the grand prize come January.

Just wanted to clear that up so you guys aren't confused when you start seeing designs from this challenge for sale soon. And also wanted to make sure you all knew that we will be printing way more than just 3 designs that come through this challenge.

Stp Brainstorming

by skaw / founder /

Hey hey hey....

We've been thinking about some changes to StreetTeam points for years now and I just wanted to throw some of our ideas out there so we can hear what you guys think. Maybe we'll actually do something different with them soon :)

First, we were thinking 1 point should equal $1.00 even rather than $1.50. If we made this change, we would convert everyone's point to the new system and round up. Example: if you have 9 points ($13.50) you would be given 14 points ($14.00 even) when we make the change. (BTW, this wouldn't effect the end value of the current system. Referring sales would earn you 3 points, $3 instead of 2 points, $3)

Second, we want there to be more ways to earn points. Currently it's just from posting a photo or referring a sale using your STP URL. Lots of various ideas here, and I would love to hear how you guys think points could be earned.

Third, we want to make points GIFT-ABLE. So on people's profile page and on other key areas around the site, you could hit a little +1 button and actually gift another person a point! If you found someone's comment or critique about your design helpful, give them a point! ... Really like someone's photo or design or slogan? Give them a point.

Another idea would be to give artists their $500 gift certificate as 500 points rather than a GC so they could go in and thank other users for their support and such in addition to using it to buy products. Simple.

Maybe you could even buy points straight up, just so you have points to gift others.


You've Seen The Book, But Have You Seen The Special Edition Hardcover Version !?

by skaw / founder /

Check it!

The SE comes in a nifty case that has a soft texture and a burnout illustration on it. The book itself has a cloth-bound hardcover and a bookmark ribbon. On top of that goodness, there's a satiny hardcover sketchbook, where you can sketch all your billions of tee ideas. The idea being that the book tells the story of Threadless and the sketchbook is for you to become a part of the story.

Coming soon

Thanks For Threadless, Everyone!

by skaw / founder /

Ten years ago when I was sitting on my computer in the corner of my studio apartment I thought it would be fun to print up some t-shirt designs contributed by various artists around the world. It was just a little fun side project, it wasn't even meant to be a business at all let alone such a massive community. It very easily could have just fizzled out into nothing, there was really no reason for it not to.

But then, you guys all slowly started finding it, hearing about it from a friend or seeing one of the tees on the street or reading an article, whatever. And, something you saw inspired you to contribute a little bit of yourself. A t-shirt design, a comment, a score, a cake, a tattoo, a photo, an idea, an event... or maybe you're just a lurker ;) And over time, this place became more and more special. So many stories, relationships, memories ... so much talent, creativity, inspiration.

Threadless is all of you and you have all helped make something amazing happen here. Thank you for inspiring me every day and for the best 10 years I could possibly imagine.

Also, be sure to check out the Threadless book which officially launched today (even though Amazon's been selling it for weeks lol) and the 101010 design challenge - 3 designers will get $10,000!!!

Now... what should we do next !?

Books, Parties, Tees &Amp; Secrets.

by skaw / founder /

Sunday Sunday SUNDAY!

10/10/10. The date we officially celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Threadless. We'll be partying all night long on the 9th, counting down the date. Then up bright and early to bring some $10 tees to the world, officially launch our book for sale and announce a super secret incredibly amazing mind blowing special fun project that's going to get everyone worked up into an uncontrollable tizzy previously only known to albino Pterodactyls.

Threadless Everywhere Tour - New York Day 1

Cheers everyone, see ya Sunday.

OH! And if you're in Chicago come down to the MCA on Tuesday at 6pm and hang out with me. Pretty please! I'll be signing books.

ps... look at our fancy new blog!

The Threadless Story, A Mini Documentary

by skaw / founder /

Motherboard has made a cool little mini documentary about Threadless! They really did an amazing job with it. The video is mostly Threadless artist Brent Schoepf and myself talking about Threadless, the artist community and how the company has grown over the years.

Check it out!