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Regarding Threadless and Artistic Quality

  • by FM
  • posted Sep 01, 2005

I dont think any of you kids realize that this shirt was designed by one of the top illustrators (and designers) in the world. Threadless started as a DESIGNER tshirt company. Threadless used to support incredible artists like Presstube, Prate, HungryForDesign, DemoDesign... With the exception of a few shirts, the stuff you see now is comedic conceptual bullshit. Just like the pop music industry,only shite stuff ever makes it to the top because of the democratic process. The sheer overwhelming demographic is of 16 year old boys and girls who like to giggle when they see a tshirt.

For a moment you should realize the bullshit (ala 'Calling Home', 'Pandamonium', 'Robot Derby Girl') and start thinking about tshirts more for their composition, color, form, originality, and style. The elements of art..which Nico Stumpo's Rabbit shirt has executed successfully.

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Robot Derby Girl did not win for its comedic value. It is just a really cool illustration of a cool character.

And her robot.


I still don't like it, top designer or not.


^About let the rabbit poo in peace.

talkin about good submissions. you really wear nice tees - pff


alot of people 'make it' due to connections and ass kissing, or existing wealth,regardless of actual talent.

just admit, this is from a good artist who didn't have the time or compassion to turn out a decent tee.

and thanks for the free advertising. all the 16 year olds hate my shit.


l wear Robot Derby Girl over wanky design concept.

l buy tees l enjoy, l don't buy tees because if they have high design, most people here who buy the tees aren't designers they're consumers who want a quality product.

you're wrong dismissing people's stuff because it doesn't have the ideals you look for, however, most people won't give a toss what you just said anyway.

The tees here are meant to be fun and worn.


i'd also chance to say that the guys have more of a say in choosing than the votes. they use them as a guide but i think they know better than to let the site get taken away by 16 year olds. how can you praise them for supporting great artists then chastise them for printing crap?

and why would anyone want to sell the rights to thier 'best' work away for a one time fee and some shirts.

don't take it so seriously. everyone's having fun but you.


I find that threadless has a great mix of beautiful designs and comedic pop-culture stuff. I myself, prefer the more comedic ones (I own Battleship, Something we guess not, but yes, and Zombie donkey) so it's really all personal preference. I'm not a fan of Let the rabbit eat at all, but I do recognize the artists talent (after looking at his website).

EZFL should read my blog about this design....


You think that if you don’t like something then it shouldn’t exist. You hide behind “freedom of expression” and yet all you want to do is impose limitations. What’s wrong with funny? Nobody is telling you not to wear your bunny shirt.

Ash Sammy

> Just like the pop music industry,only shite
> stuff ever makes it to the top because of the democratic process.

Theres a reason why some stuff succeed other stuff.


FM? More like AM.


I think people have made very good points as a reaction to the blog. But also, since when does 16 years old = moron? Your profile reads that you are 20. I could say that all 20 years olds are full of themselves and their lofty art ideals since I'm 25, but I don't. Because it's a crap arguement.


oh well, i think that he is somewhat right, due to the wave of humor winning shirts, and ive been told it was different b4, in the beggining of threadless. humor wins more i think, it may be due to the demographic which is overwhelmingly becoming more younger, including my peers i guess. not every humorous design is very well designed....tho i do really like the ones hes mentioned. maybe it is the demographic?


i like the real old designs much better...


Don't hate the player, hate the game. Oh I think you were hating the game, never mind.

While I agree with you that there appear to be many shirts that are being printed because of its immediate comedic value, or shock value (Ice Cream Mann), I don't think there is a reduction of shirts being printed because of their artistic merits, as let the rabbit eat must prove.

So maybe you aren't angry that shirts aren't getting printed (I feel they are) but because people are complaining about those shirts once they are printed. I think this is a valid thing for you to complain about - after all if they don't like it it'd be best if they were constructive with their complaints or just moved along. I think your criticisim of their qualifications for comenting isn't valid, but thats a small nit.

Anyway, good point that the people who designed these shirts are respected designers.


I agree with the idea that this site used to be full of DESIGNER t-shirts.

I agree that Threadless gets the help of top notch designers to design for them.

I do think that the conceptual design of "Let the Rabbit..." was done very well but that head area of the rabbit was not done well. After seeing the style and other forms of art from that designer I truly feel that it could have been done better. (I speak of the head area of the rabbit. I feel that the text and carrots were fine.)

It just makes me wonder what the designer was thinking when they created the piece. If we knew that, then maybe we could better understand why it looks the way it does.

Daniel James Diggle

IN other words, theres people on here who would prefer it to be more exclusive. I personally 'would' sacrafice the excellent work of the younger designer 0-16yr to have it for just us older audience. Maybe a seperate section for the younger artists. Of course this wont happen but it would give threadless and even stronger tighter comunity, and people would get much better consise help from each other. All the best advice i have been given on here so far is of course from the older more experienced designers. And with this constant influx of overt humour (which will at some point suffocate itself) some older more experienced people may leave threadless and go elsewhere.

Daniel James Diggle

Humorous t-shirts are like McDonalds
You love the smell,the taste, you sit there and devour tons untill your bloated. Then you feel a bit unwell and realise you'd have been better off with a sensible sandwhich or baguette.

Humour is infectious, it will probably always score higher because it actively ingages with us much more.

But other types of design are like the sandwhiches, you can wear them again and again, non humour design T's have longlivity.


that would be something i would hate very much. if the really more experienced designers left, than all we'd really have is the humour. maybe some already left?


So the older more experience designers leave Threadless and go elsewhere. Isn't that great? I mean why suggest creating two artificial social communities based on age? Art never works well under situations like that. Let the artists you enjoy leave, create a new community that isn't overrun with 0 - 16 year olds, and they will flourish naturally. until such time as the 0 - 16 year olds try to co-op your new private shanra la. Your suggestion doesn't make economical sense for the business, or the community.


"Id start thinking about tshirts more for their composition, color, form, originality, and style. The elements of art..which Nico Stumpo's Rabbit shirt has executed successfully."

I agree to an extent as I'm a bigger fan of aesthetics than I am of the 'humorous' concept-oriented shirts that have been Threadless' bread and butter lately. But disagree in that I think this shirt is an aesthetic mess. The jarringly white, near unreadable text. The unsubtle logo tackily etched into the ear. And the overall clumsiness in execution, an intentionally messy 'style' that I've seen done much, much better, all based around an 'evil' bunny that in itself is not an entirely original design.

Mind you, I give it points for its originality in comparison to the typical threadless tee, and I personally would love more original, 'artistic' designs here on threadless. But 'Let The Rabbit Eat His Damn Cereal' is just shit design, plain and simple.


what is the fucking difference between a designer and an artist? adobe illustrator? looking through the design magazines to see what everyone else is doing this season? it would often seem so.
design is usually art for the business or corporate world..incorporating symbology, icons, and text, all of which are hated lately at threadless.

but i prefer to think of it as art on a shirt, rather than 'design'.

...cause i don't want the special k logo on my shirt.


First of all, I'm insulted by your generalization of 16 year olds. As a 16 year old girl I do NOT gravite towards shirts that "make me giggle". Though admittedly, I do have one or two "funny" tees, I think you'll find we don't all have a tasteless, conformist and immature sense of humor that makes us think "Calling Home" is the peak of humor and coolness. I for one think it's actually pretty lame, not to mention unoriginal.

So be it if the demand on threadless is for funny shirts. Whether you like it or not, the folks at Threadless are ultimately trying to make money, so if the majority of their customers wants humorous shirts, that's what they're going to print.

I don't mean to sound self-righteous or snobby about my tastes. My sense of humor does not find Calling Home particularly funny, but there are other shirts that I do think are funny, and would buy because of that. But there are a great deal more shirts that I would buy that I simply find interesting and aestetically pleasing .

I would also point out that one of your own designs, the only one, in fact, that won, is humorous. And yes, I do think "Bring it Back" is funny, but I know that it is also exactly the type of shirt my 16 year old peers would go for, exactly the type of shirt that you claim to abhor so much.


Design is kind of an ambiguous term these days. A lot of things fall in and out of it, regardless of what term you use to define your work, all that matters is what you put into it as an artist.

Have you ever seen Boondock Saints, Travis? I nearly busted a gut when you typed symbology up there.

But anyway, I still stand by my original statement that Let the Rabbit Eat is very well done. I would buy it were the shirt not printed on Fruit of the Loom shirts. I also understand that it has zero of the mass market appeal that is common in the Threadless top sellers. So this is by no means a shirt that everyone can like. But then, how much of art is something that everyone can like?

I do see a change in Threadless though. What I miss more than anything is submissions just being an artist's work. People trying things, anything, and sharing it with the rest of us. Now it feels like people are trying to fit the established formula, that they aren't trying to be creative so much as they are trying to fit that comfortable level of cleverness, or cuteness, or whatever that person thinks will sell.

I'm just glad that Psilocybe got printed.


Beasts is pretty hot too.


Nico Stumpo is a talented artist, I love his work but I do not associate this shirt with him at all, at least I would prefer not too. It does not look like his typical graf style, strong holding lines etc.... Not that he has to refrain from broadening his style, infact, I prefer to see artists explore the & break boundaries but when you explore you can fail and this shirt is a failure in my opinion because there is nothing aesthetically pleasing about this shirt and it does not really explore anything new.

The "crappy" shirts you mentioned recently are not crappy at all, those are just shirts that are done in a different style and very well done at that. I love abstracted designs, I wish there were more. There are a few people submitting currently that do push the abstract envelope, I hope you are voting for them cause I am.

Just because a well established artist submits something it doesn't mean it is automatically deemed a great shirt or worthy of being printed.


I remember when I first saw Let The Rabbit Eat His Damn Cereal, it'd been out for a little over a week. At that time I avoided the discussions on it for lack of time. My first impression, though, was surprise at the radically different design aesthetic it represented, pleasently surprised. I'm fully with MrD that this is a well done design, and though it looks like it's half-assed, I don't buy that it was. The aesthetic isn't what most people on here expect to see, so I'd guess that explains at least some of the reaction.

Ross and Glenn, for all of their very well deserved success, have to a large degree influenced the style of designs submitted here because of that success. I wonder if this shirt is an attempt by the t-less gang at shifting the design styles away from funnyfunny shirts to more serious stylistic statements.


Almost everyone of you has stated that the Rabbit design fails aesthetically. I am open to hearing a rational, and systematic critique.

If everyone declines, i'd be happy to critique it positively.


So, what you're saying is it's ok to support awesome designers, but it's bullshit to support awesome Illustrators? There are lots of struggling and amazing Illustrators out there too who need support as well, but your going to sit there and tell me that only this one form of art deserves any attention? If all threadless did was support designers then they would be a biased company, what if an amazing designer submits shit work? Will you attack Threadless for not supporting them? I personally like the funny designs, it's not like they're printing "I'm with stupid" shirts and shirts with titties printed on them. I like the designer shirts too. Have you ever thought that maybe some of the people who submitt Illustrations or funny designs might be serious artists? Did you ever check up on any of these people? If all you want to do is support one form of art and completely disregard another, then all you are giving us is your opinion, and your opinion doesn't go for everyone.


First off, he's hit it with his own logo, let the egos grow, art for arts sake right?

The type is barely legible, which is fine, I see it as a pattern but the pattern doesn't really interact with the rest of the piece. I would love to see the type broken down even further and pushed into the rest of the elements.

Then there is the "head": a circular form, with the "ears" and the "eyes" expounding further on the circular movement. The "ears" however also push the eye out and away from the design.. to what? my armpit and my head.

The "carrots" try to hold the whole piece together, containing the type at least and acting like quote marks?

The only thing I see holding the piece together is the background color, the shirt, other than that it is somewhat sporadic and inconclusive.

Finally, say what you will, I could indeed go on, but this is completely open to interpretation, infact, you will offer an explanation contrary to my own and therein lies the only beauty I see in this piece.


But it's by a top designer.


You're not helping, Gerp.


wait.. didn't you design "bring it back" the mustache shirt.

isn't that kinda like "the pot calling the kettle black".. or whatever the term is.


there's no color theory, or even thumbing of noses to color theory. the greys are almost lost, being the same tone as the tee. stylistically the head and text are polar opposites, but even the head contains abut 2 different approaches.
i don't hate the shirt. i don't love it. it just does nothing for me. there aren't many shirts here i want right now. i have $150 in credit just sitting there because the only shirts i want are sold out, and very illustratorly, because that's what i respect.
i do think the arrogance and worship of artists based on thier name or hwat they have done holds little bearing on individual works. work should stand alone and not rely on the artist's name to give it credibility.


I'm just stating the obvious tesko.
No matter how much people exchange their opinions, they're still sticking to their own guns anyway.


There is only one way to settle this, physical violence.


right gerpander, this is like liberals and conservatives fighting over anything- no one is going to budge, so fuck this. let's blog about titties somewhere.


Maybe next we can talk about religion, and follow that up with a discussion on politics.


Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Two Tribes video said it all.


oh damn, Travis beat me to the political discussion.


i think duran duran's video hungry like the wolf said it all.


Why can't we all just get along? Why do some of us feel the need to spout pretentious opinion like it's the gospel? Oh, right, this the intertron. Nevermind.


that's an awesome song, Duran Duran rules. Wish I could have seen them in concert back in the day because I wouldn't go and see them now, they're probably over priced and the clothing and hairstyles are not the same at all... wish they were still in the eighties, I wouldn't hate them for not changing.

My wife and I were going to see Devo recently but the tix are about $80 each!!!!!!


trav, no no no, Girls on Film definitely. Yes yes yes.




wild boys?


Yeah, Notorious Wild Boys!


threadless is notorious for wild boys


Who just Come Undone.

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